It was 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 1, 2003. I was nervous and uneasy. I had been elected President of the Toastmasters Club of New Delhi. It seemed like such a daunting task.
As a fairly new member of the club, with no experience serving in any club officer position, I was apprehensive at my first meeting as President. Somehow, I gathered courage and hesitatingly spoke about my vision for the club when, to my shock and amazement, my club members began applauding! Little did I know then that I had embarked on a leadership journey that would culminate in becoming the Toastmasters International President 16 years later.
I can imagine the stress many of you are going through now as you begin your leadership journey, perhaps for the first time. There is added pressure from the ongoing pandemic, which has altered our lives in unimaginable ways. Leadership in normal times requires special competencies and attributes that we learn as part of our Toastmasters experience. The present unusual situation requires more adroit actions to ensure that we continue serving our members.
What can we do to stay on track in these extraordinary times?
Teamwork is critical to the success of any project and more so now in Toastmasters. Motivate the team, share your vision, and plan together for success. Review the plan frequently and if necessary, tweak it based on evolving needs. Be resilient. As we’ve seen in the past six months, our members have demonstrated resilience brilliantly, as they coped with the crisis and emerged victorious!
Leadership in normal times requires special competencies … The present situation requires more adroit actions to serve our members.
Be adaptable. When we are inflexible and unwilling to change, we are often left behind. Get creative. The pandemic appeared to present an insurmountable meeting challenge. But you adapted to the new world and switched to an online format, making clubs more successful than ever before!
Have compassion and stay calm. We are all in this together. If we practice active listening, empathy, and care, we will be serving our members to our full potential.
Be generous with kudos to those who have contributed directly or indirectly to your success. Create an environment of positivity and support. Appreciation and gratitude at all times lets members know that we value them.
Stay on track with enthusiasm and passion, remain undaunted, and enjoy your leadership experience. When it is time to take up a new leadership role on July 1, 2021, look back to this year with satisfaction and say, “I did it!” Better still, “We did it!”
Deepak Menon, DTM