By Helena Brewer, Division J Director
Great Team Work in Division J
Stepping up to take on a leadership role is something we all can benefit from. From the elections in May 2018, the work began.
The year began with District Officer Training in June and July. This is where I met the members of my team of six Area Directors. Division J stretches from the Thames Valley to the rolling hills of South Wales, so it wasn’t surprising that we he’d not all met before.
The role of Division Director is pivotal, sitting between the District Leadership Team and the Area Directors. In the early days, there were messages from the District Leadership Team to pass on to the Area Directors. I found myself checking, mainly for the wording and jargon, adding useful links on the resources required and translating experienced Toastmaster speak into newbie speak. It proved to be both a challenge and a knowledge sharing exercise, dealing with questions and queries from Area Directors on what things actually meant.
With six Area Directors, I asked each of them what else they would like to take to support the Division activity. Instantly they volunteered for additional responsibilities; stepping up to organise the Division Contests, the Toastmasters Leadership Institute, providing insight and information to District reports and training, delivering workshops and promotional activity on social media.
Within a matter of weeks, everything had settled down, with the Division targets and goals for the year ahead set. The Area Directors jumped straight into their roles, arranging Club Officer Training, agreeing dates for autumn contests and looking at educational workshops for the year ahead. The support and the respect each showed the other, established a trust that my team members would support each other. By September, with the Club Officer Training under their belts, it was on to club visit reports and contest season.
Jumping forward to March, we are now over the halfway point of this Toastmasters year. The second round of Club Officer Training and the Division’s first Toastmasters Leadership Institute has been delivered. The Area contests are complete and now it’s on to the Division Contests and workshops in Worcester on 7 April, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/district-91-division-j-international-speech-evaluation-contest-tickets-57096337683?fbclid=IwAR0BNqEoKpxF1AkmksTiAaIjpnu6fI2Qlz7g3egs1ffn7NnobwRdovmJtyY.
As a team we do not get to meet face to face, all together very often. We have taken full advantage of the training and executive committee meetings to catch up as a team. The way we communicated as a group became important. There are many different support tools out there for quick messaging that have proved invaluable for regular contact with each other. It’s also allowed for the relationships between the team to develop. Sometimes it’s simply a witty retort from one of the team that makes you smile. One to one catch up phone calls have provided the opportunity to share candidly and express the good and any concerns. What began with war and peace emails from me in the beginning is now reduced to my Area Directors answering each other’s questions as they arise.
When I mentioned to the team our Division was taking over the newsletter, the articles flowed in. A bounty of riches for the District PR Manager. As with everything in Toastmasters, it’s an opportunity to try something new in a safe environment.
We’re not sitting back just yet, there’s plenty of work supporting our members to keep us busy in the coming months. The educational awards are flooding in from members in Division J in both the legacy and the Pathways programs, with DTMs, triple crowns and Pathways Level ones in most clubs. To all members, and especially those in Division J, keep up the hard work!