Viewpoint: Shaping Ourselves as Leaders – Without Titles

Viewpoint: Shaping Ourselves as Leaders – Without Titles

A message from our International President

Back in 2004, your Board of Directors established a Big Audacious Goal (BAG) to guide the development of Toastmasters International for years to come. Our “BAG” is: Toastmasters International is recognized throughout the world as the undisputed expert in communication and leadership development. Now that’s pretty big and audacious! Yet we are best known for our ability to help people become better communicators, less so for leadership. Most people who come to our clubs do so because, first and foremost, they want to develop communication skills. Not many guests open with: “Hi! I’d like to become a better leader. Can you help me?”

The good news is that the answer is “yes,” even for those who do not identify themselves as leaders! Do you know that right now about 80,000 of our almost 240,000 members are in leadership roles, ranging from club officer to International President? That means one in three of our members is learning leadership by actually doing it. So what about the other 160,000 members who are not in formal leadership positions? What about those who say: “I just want to be a better speaker...not interested in leadership, thank you very much”? From time to time I meet people in Toastmasters who make a similar point: “Chris, I’m not here to be a leader.” Read on!

Recently I came across an article in which Robin Sharma, leadership guru and author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, shared his idea that each of us has the power to craft world-class careers for ourselves and lead remarkably successful lives. In his view, leadership is a way of being; it’s about inspiring all those who surround you to realize their gifts and stand for personal greatness, and it’s about connecting to people...deeply, genuinely and passionately (Isn’t that what we do in Toastmasters?). He sums up this philosophy in one simple phrase: “Lead without a title.” Lead without a title! Now that is one of the most powerful leadership insights I’ve come across in a long time!

In other words, regardless of status or position or title – or none of the above – leadership is for everyone. We all influence our circle of friends and family, colleagues and club members, and we can influence these people in a very inspirational way, thanks to Toastmasters International. Aren’t you glad you have the opportunity to experience the inspirationally shaping influence of Toastmasters every time you participate in your club meeting?

Chris K. Ford, DTM
International President