A member of a team has been working hard
at a company. The year has started off well. The team is driven,
everyone knows what they’re doing and things look like they’re
Suddenly, that team member feels unwell.
They take a week off. When they’re fit and well, they return to
work…only to find total chaos! Their team members are relieved to
have them back and the team’s returning member soon help get things
back on track again.
Is this you or someone you know? The
moment you (or someone in your team) step out of the picture, do
things fall apart? Could something like this happen in your
If so, you need to introduce systems into
your club! Having systems in place will help your leadership team
members and club members run your club smoothly and efficiently,
making sure that it continues to function without your (or any other
member’s) regular personal intervention.
Think of running your club a bit like
running a business. Most successful businesses have effective systems
built in. Can you imagine a CEO of a Fortune 500 company going on
holiday for a fortnight and their company then collapsing? I think
not. Why? Because of teams making use of systems.
These companies work well because they
factor in the possibility of company personnel changing, moving on,
passing on as well as moving into different roles. And your club is
Where do you start in your own club? Ask
yourself: “If I had to take a month off, what would need doing and
who would do it?” Based on that, you can begin rallying your team
together and building systems accordingly. To effectively achieve
this, you can do some of the following
Share skills with fellow embers so that
there is a pool of skills to draw from when the time comes
Create easy-to-follow role guides for
meeting functionary roles specific to your club. Make sure these are
accessible by all of your members
Create easy-to-follow leadership role
guides so that your leadership team successors will have your
knowledge to take pointers from (and refine themselves)
Introduce a leadership mentoring process
where members of your leadership team can take on members as
‘mentees’ and get them to assist with roles. This will provide
them with a taste of what things will be like on the leadership
During my time as President of Early Bird
Speakers, one of the things I had on my manifesto at the start of the
year was ‘Leadership Focused Mentoring’. I realised that our club
already had solid mentoring systems in place to help our members
develop as speakers (and in other meeting roles), but I wanted to do
something to bolster the leadership team aspect of mentoring and get
ordinary members involved in leadership roles so that they too can
get a taster of what the roles are like and thus, consider taking on
a leadership role in future.
Our VP Membership, Cindy, took on two
members who supported her with the weekly VP Membership role tasks.
At one point, Cindy was away. However, with the effective systems put
in place (the two supportive members now had the skills), business
could continue as usual without Cindy. Cindy (alongside the two
members) had expertly created a system to support the club.
As an added bonus, both of the members
who supported Cindy are now members of this year’s leadership team
at Early Bird Speakers! With the skills they procured during their
time supporting Cindy, they were able to be part of the new
leadership team with the advantage of having already had some
experience. What if your club already has great systems in place? As
per our Toastmasters creed, there is always room for improvement!
Listen to your club members (guests too!) and refine your existing
systems. You’ll soon find that there are many areas for improvement
and that those little regular tweaks can go a long way, slowly
transforming your club into an efficiently run and well-oiled machine
run by great members for all your members.
Also, as new things are introduced to
your club (such as GDPR this year), you will need to effectively
implement that into your club whilst working with the relevant
leadership team members to create appropriate systems that will take
care of that area. Factor in the relevant people, technology and
other elements involved. Get your team and entire club on board!
Collectively, you’ll all keep the cogs of your great club turning.
To see where I can refine a system, I
sometimes like to sketch out a flow-chart, listing the different
‘steps’ of a particular event. If there is a gap in the
flow-chart or the relevant personnel have not been listed, I can
clearly see what needs doing to improve it. Small example:
Guest visits TMI website (guest)>
Guest finds Early Bird Speakers and wants
to attend (guest) – Meeting/venue info up-to date >
Guest emails club about visiting (guest)
Email received in shared Leadership Team
email account (all/part LT have access) >
VP Membership (or supporting members)
reply, providing meeting info (VPM) >
VP Membership adds guest name to
attendance list (VPM) >
VP Membership (or support) prints the
attendance list on Wednesday night (VPM/support)
Now that you have an idea of building
systems, go forth and bolster the systems in your club.
Build systems for your team to use so
that your club can run without you/one specific person
Create easy-to-follow role guides for
meeting roles and club leadership roles
If/when you have systems in your club,
refine, refine, refine!
Have a fun time working alongside your
team as you collectively build superb systems into your club. See
you again in a month!
Shaheen Jamshed Mufti is Immediate Past President, Early Bird Speakers