Why Leadership? What’s in it for you as a District Leader?- Morag Mathieson

If I were to ask you to describe yourself as a leader today, what would you say?
Are you a happy leader? An experienced leader? A reluctant leader? or maybe a terrified leader?

One question I am often asked in Toastmasters is why leadership? Why do you put yourself through it?

5 Cs to help remember what’s in it for us when we take up the mantle of leadership.

1. Contribution
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – when we get to the top of the pyramid and reach level of self actualization there is a desire to give back and taking a leadership role allows us to do that.
• Make a contribution to the district mission (We build new clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence), helping bring the advantages of Toastmasters to a wider audience and helping members be fulfilled in quality clubs
• Make a contribution to the Toastmasters International Mission (We empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders). You support clubs to become centres of excellence for the member experience and so enable members to reach goals and achieve greater levels of competence and confidence.
• Make a contribution to your district – encouraging excellence in education wherever you are.
• Make a contribution to your peer group in the District Council meetings – sharing perspectives, encouraging each other.

2. Connector
You are a bridge between clubs and district. You facilitate the success of the clubs and help the district develop its goals.
You are not a district spy!

• You connect clubs in the area
o help them share ideas and share the responsibility of leading their clubs.
o Help them catch enthusiasm from each other and share challenges

• You connect an exchange of ideas
• As you connect you increase your understanding of Toastmasters
• As you connect you can identify and develop future leaders
o Who shows a great attitude?
o Who is always available to help?
o Who gets on with others and is encouraging?
o Who asks questions and is interested?

3. Collaborate
You get to practice collaboration in leadership.
• You function as both a member of a team and its leader
• You need to identify a clear purpose and goals for the team.
• As you work with others you learn how to develop and lead an inclusive team that functions well.
• You learn how collaboration helps you to manage change and accomplish something significant.
• You collaborate with your peer group – consider peer mentoring.

4. Character
Stephen Covey quote:
“Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition- such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.”

Challenges will come – may be your own personal challenges e.g. fear of failure, lack of confidence or it may be in working with others.
• Develop character as you deal with political issues and conflicts
• Your integrity is put to the test, when you are tired or stressed. For example when someone offers you an easy option that lacks integrity it can be tempting to take it.
• Your core values come in to focus. We make decisions through the filter of our values. It can be a chance to discover very clearly what your own personal core values are.
• Don’t stay stuck when you face challenges. You are not alone. There is a team and others in the district to help you and support you to reach decisions and to persevere.

5. Collector
In district leadership you are given an opportunity to become a collector of many things:
• Accomplishments
• Leadership skills

o Planning and organizing
o Guiding a successful team
o Change management
o Conflict resolution
o Presentation skills
o Giving and receiving constructive feedback
o Inspiring others

Think not just about achieving Distinguished Toastmaster Award by serving but about the skills you will gain in the process and let this be a year where you make steps towards being a leader who is made.
When you look back at the end of the year what kind of leader would you say you are? I hope you are a satisfied and skilled leader and ready to continue developing as a leader and / or support others in their leadership path.

Morag Mathieson
International Director 2017-19

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