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The Leader Ladder

Why the Club Executive Committee is a valuable training ground for aspiring leaders.

By Gitel Hesselberg


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One of the most valuable aspects of being a club officer is the opportunity to serve on the Club Executive Committee (CEC). Participating as a group member is an excellent way to develop a broad range of leadership expertise. Opportunities to learn and lead abound for this member-elected officer team, who steer the club’s business operations and foster quality education programs and energetic club activities each year.

The CEC is chaired by the Club President and includes the Vice President Education (VPE), Vice President Membership (VPM), Vice President Public Relations (VPPR), Secretary, Treasurer, Sergeant at Arms, and the Immediate Past President (IPP). The IPP provides support and advice as needed to the new leadership team.

If you’re looking for hands-on training, the CEC offers many opportunities, current and former club officers say. Manuela Parisi Brage, former VPPR of Vila Olimpia English Toastmasters in Sāo Paulo, Brazil, prizes the skills—and the new friends—she gained during two extensive Toastmasters Leadership Institutes, training events for club officers. She directly credits her CEC training for helping her attain positions in her professional field of communications and public relations.

Celia Lim, DTM, found she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her CEC after observing their dedication to cultivating happy, goal-oriented members. She has been an officer almost continually since she joined Toastmasters in 2014 and is now Immediate Past President of Emmaus Catholic Toastmasters Club in Singapore. Lim says some of her leadership lessons came from studying what the Club President did and internalizing those qualities.

What advice do current and former CEC members have for aspiring club leaders? Lim notes that potential candidates should “know the Toastmasters structure well,” and suggests the Club Secretary or Sergeant at Arms as good offices to hold first.

George Brown, former VPE of Cranston Communicators in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, says one of the most important things you can do is read the Club Leadership Handbook. You can also log in to Leadership Central and watch club officer tutorials that detail the responsibilities of each position. Understanding each role, and how they fit together, helps to build a strong, cooperative leadership team, the handbook explains.

Naturally, it’s also a good idea to talk to former or current officers if you’re thinking of running for a club officer position. Not only do you gain fresh perspective and get to know these leaders better, you can see and assess what skills they have and think about what talents and value you could bring to the CEC team. Club leadership committees will be meeting soon to choose an officer slate for the coming year. Should you run for club office? That’s something only you can decide. However—like any Toastmasters experience—the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.


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