September Update and review of the TMI Convention and District Leader Training, from Jean Gamester, District 91 Director, 2015-16
It is a fact that serving as a district leader in Toastmasters is a lot of hard work.
There are many consolations though. For example Vanessa King, Dorothea Stuart and I got to attend district leader training and the international convention in Las Vegas this month.
At the convention, there are elections for board members. All of our clubs have a vote and we were carrying the proxies for the 100 or so clubs in our district who assigned those proxies to us. And because we wanted to make the best possible decisions on behalf of our clubs, we found ourselves conducting around twenty five fifteen minute interviews with board candidates.
Through all of those interviews, a couple of key themes came to light for me;
Let’s start with this one. Dorothea had a killer question on international tax. It became clear that none of the candidates (unless they were tax lawyers) would be able to answer the question perfectly – it was way too complicated a question for an ordinary mortal. It also became clear that the best candidates were the ones who listened attentively, said something like they hadn’t been aware of the issue that Dorothea raised and said that if they got onto the board, they would do what they could to raise awareness. And the weaker candidates would attempt to answer the question like a table topic – just say something, anything and give the impression that you know something about this. It came down to the question of integrity – am I going to say anything to get elected, or am I going to be honest about what I don’t know?
The next one was this. My question was about what challenge they would seek to address when they were on the board. Now I have discovered that there is a fairly standard answer to this question, which goes something like this. “I don’t know which committee I am going to be part of when I get elected so I don’t know which issues I will get to address”. I have to admit I have been a bit frustrated with this – if they don’t know what they want to do, why should we vote for them to be on a board that leads 330,000 members in 135 countries around the world?
I chatted with other people at the convention about this to try to get my brain around this, and then International President Mohammed Murad said something that helped me work it out. Actually, the best leaders are the ones who have the respect for their colleagues to come to the table with an open mind and hear what they have to say, who were prepared to collaborate with them to serve our members with excellence. It wasn’t the people who dominated with the best ideas who we needed to be our leaders, but those people who could work with others to draw out the best ideas and hold the organisation to account to make them work.
It was fortunate then, that Vanessa’s question was all about how they would work with the board as a team – it turned out that that was the most important question of all.
So perhaps, when we are next thinking about your next club officer meeting, or area council, or other group, let’s think not on our own agenda and passions, but on how we can work with the others and hear what they have to say, so we can serve our members together.
Have an amazing September, see you in October!
Jean Gamester, District 91 Director, 2015-16