Every Toastmasters club needs leadership, yet many clubs suffer from a lack of willingness by their members to take on leadership roles. Considering that our organization’s tagline is “Where Leaders Are Made,” this pattern undermines our avowed aim of becoming the premier provider of communication and leadership skills, and it goes against the reason many members joined their clubs.
The sixth commitment in the Toastmaster’s Promise is “to serve my club as an officer when called upon to do so.”
For many, the combination of communication and leadership is hard to accept, but, in reality, the two skills are inextricably linked. I know of no effective leader who is not also an effective communicator. Each individual skill enhances the other. Yet the lack of members willing to commit to leadership roles is a major obstacle for clubs. It keeps the club from delivering a positive and safe environment in which members benefit from the club experience.
So why this reluctance to take on a club leadership role? Some believe they are not ready for it. You will never know if you are ready until you step outside your comfort zone. Others simply do not care to take on additional responsibility, maybe due to time constraints. To those people, I simply say that if everyone pursued that line of reasoning we would have no clubs and no organization at all. Finally, there are those who believe that the current club leaders are doing a “good enough job, so let them get on with it and we will do our own thing.”
Membership in your club is a commitment not just to achieving your goals, but to helping create an atmosphere of support for your fellow members.
The danger with that thinking is that we run the risk of “burning out” the willing few. Second, to quote a well-known saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you always get what you always got.” But, most important, the club officer pool is the well from which all our future district and international leaders come. Restrict the depth of this pool and you restrict and diminish the source of our future leaders and the organization itself.
Fellow members, district or international leadership may well not be your goal. I know it was not mine when I joined 26 years ago! However, the experience of fulfilling your commitment to your club could change your life … as it changed mine. Can you afford to miss the opportunity? Take the challenge, fulfill the promise and become a club officer.
Membership in your club is a commitment not just to achieving your goals, but to helping create an atmosphere of support for your fellow members….“Remember the Member.”
MIKE STORKEY, DTM