Servant leadership is the lifeblood of the Toastmasters experience. Clubs have officers, districts have directors and regions have region advisors. There are Pathways Guides and Chief Ambassadors, translation reviewers and international directors. Leaders at every level of the organization serve their fellow members, helping them boost their confidence, build their skills and accomplish their goals.
If you relish making a difference for others while honing your leadership skills, consider applying for the position of region advisor (RA). The role is far- reaching: Each advisor supports several districts in their region by mentoring the leaders, supporting their ideas and efforts, and helping the districts expand their clubs’ membership.
“It’s an incredible experience working with district leaders and learning all the amazing things they are doing to make our organization more successful,” says Lark Doley, DTM, a two-time RA and now the Toastmasters International President-Elect.
Region advisors around the world are selected each year by the Toastmasters Board of Directors. Region advisors serve a 15-month term, beginning April 1 and ending June 30 of the following year. Drawing on their experience and knowledge as Toastmasters, region advisors guide leaders in many ways: communicating consistently with district leaders, helping them plan, providing marketing advice, coaching them on how to meet their district goals, facilitating teamwork among the leaders and serving as a link to World Headquarters.
Most importantly, says Doley, they help leaders focus on the district mission of club- and membership-building and why it’s so important. A Toastmaster for 25 years, she is a member of two clubs in Texas and was part of Toastmasters’ first group of region advisors in 2010. She served in the role for Region 3 in 2010–2011 and then again in 2011–2012.
RAs don’t fix problems for districts or dictate to leaders the steps they should take. They mentor, facilitate and help leaders develop their own strategies and solutions.
“Servant leadership is the lifeblood of the Toastmasters experience.”
And RAs truly make a difference, say district leaders. Mohamed Makhlouf, DTM, the 2017–2018 District 20 Director, says the support from his region advisor, Aletta Rochat, was invaluable. She held virtual meetings with district leaders and provided constant encouragement and advice for overcoming challenges. “This helped all district leaders to easily achieve the District Success Plan,” says Makhlouf.
Rochat, DTM, a member of the Cape Town Toastmasters club in South Africa, served two terms, from 2016 to 2018, as the region advisor for Region 11. James Taruc, DTM, District 79 Director in 2017–2018, also cited the impact of Rochat’s guidance, praising her generous sharing of her Toastmasters knowledge. He recalled a webinar she presented on “What Leaders Learn from Speech Contests.”
“She goes beyond the norm to help her leaders succeed,” says Taruc, a Pathways Guide.
The contributions of region advisors embody servant leadership and are key to the success of Toastmasters International. The volunteer role is challenging and demanding, says Doley, but the rewards are worth it. Not only do RAs help others flourish as leaders, she says, they improve their own leadership skills in the process.
“We want individuals who want to grow in their skills,” says Doley, “and who want to lend their skills to help others.”
Paul Sterman is senior editor, executive and editorial content, for Toastmasters International.