Do you consider yourself to be a leader or to have leadership skills?
Hello Madam Toastmaster, Madam President, fellow Toastmasters and welcome guests, thank you for letting me take part in your meeting today, I very much appreciate it.
To answer the question I posed at the start of this speech, no, I never did consider myself to be a leader or to have leadership skills, which, when I think about it now is a bit odd. In school I was a sub Prefect, a Prefect, Captain of our Fencing Club, Head of the School Bank, on the Debs Committee, a member of the School Council, a member of the MUN, and on the debating team.
In my camera club, I have lead small groups of people learning new techniques, I have also helped design and teach a photography course, but, it seems my time in Toastmasters has taught me that those roles involved leadership and this together with what I have learnt from Toastmasters, appears to have turned me into a Leader.
I joined Toastmasters in March 2019, and because I was ludicrously early for the meeting, partly because I am always early and partly as I was coming straight from a Guitar class and there was no point in going home, passing the venue and then having to come out again, and because I like to help, I accidentally started to shadow our SAA, within two weeks they were asking me did I want to be SAA, they thought that I was trying to get that role. Little did they realise how ignorant I was of what was involved in Toastmasters, other than talking of course.
In June 2019, I became the SAA (Sergeant at Arms). The following June, I became the VPPR (Vice President of Public Relations). I am our Zoom Master and also our Club’s Pathways person. How to use Pathways and Basecamp is the basis for my HPL (High Performance Leadership) Project.
I have also co-sponsored a Club and will soon be Coaching another Club. My plan is to earn my DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) award, these are all roles that I have both enjoyed and benefitted from. In time I hope to become VPE (Vice President of Education) and President, that is of course dependent on the Elections.
As required by this project, I asked my immediate circle of colleagues, in this case, my Committee peers to complete a 360 Degree evaluation on my leadership skills to date and how I can improve on them. It was a joy and a surprise to see that the vast majority of the Committee did complete the evaluation for me. So I am very grateful to them for that.
I truly hated asking them to do it, it is six pages long and takes time, being very aware that peoples time is precious, I considered it a massive compliment that they would take some of their time and fill in the evaluation for me. I would have avoided this project completely if I could based solely on the requirement to bother other people, but, I had no choice, as it was a required project.
However, reviewing the results of the 360 degree evaluation has probably been one of the most useful exercises I have done in Toastmasters, and I will forever be grateful to my peers for their time. I am trying to incorporate their helpful feedback into my actions going forward, as I do with all the feedback I get in Toastmasters.
The 360 evaluation is broken up into eight sections which include, Leadership, Communication, Interpersonal Skills, Teamwork and Building, Problem Solving, Motivation, Prioritisation and Reliability.
Many of the results of the 360 evaluation were not at all surprising and some very a revelation. I have been trying to match together some of the answers, to try and focus on the areas of improvement, as there may be overlap.
I received a number of comments in the evaluation referring to my style of leading by example, this is not something that I have ever intentionally cultivated, however, when it was mentioned to me, I could see what they were referring to. I do understand that you need to change your leadership style dependent on the circumstances you find yourself in. You would, probably, never lead a room full of 5 year olds the same way you would a room filled with CEO’s.
My leadership style normally oscillates between being Authoritative, meaning I am trying to inspire enthusiasm, innovative, as I want to prompt peoples creativity, democratic, as I like consensus decision making and I like communicating with my team and finally affiliative as I like collaborations and teamwork. It always depends on the circumstances in which you find yourself.
The benefits of adjusting your leadership style means that you can probably create the right environment for the team members to work in, thereby, hopefully achieving your joint goals in the most efficient manner possible.
I am going to implement all the feedback that I have received, I realise that I need to be more direct, one of the things that has prevented me from doing so previously, is that I don’t want to come across as bossy as I would hate to be considered bossy. The evaluation has given me a lot to think about and I believe that it is a document that I will return to over the years.
William Arthur Wood once said that, “Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.”
In the Leadership section the comments indicate that I need to accept compliments and praise better, I need to delegate more, ask for help with tasks, be more direct, give more useful feedback, I also need to change my apologetic tone, this feedback is valid and accepted.
The Communication section tells me that I could improve on my feedback, this made perfect sense to me when I read it, as I find it very difficult to find faults in peoples speeches and presentations, partly because I don’t want to offend anyone, but, mostly because I am alway so impressed with the speeches, so I agree that I do need to improve in this area, and I am trying.
The Interpersonal Skills section suggests that I am good in his area. The comments again refer to my apologetic tones and phrases, clearly, I really do need to improve on this.
The Teamwork and Building comments were complimentary, I shall continue to try and improve in this section, but, at least I know it’s not as high a priority as some of the other areas.
The Problem solving results one of the members mentioned in this section that I need to ask others to help more.
The replies to the Motivation section, indicate that the members believe I am a motivated person, but, I could improve on my use of effective strategies to motivate others, I need to be more proactive.
Under the Prioritisation and Reliability headings, the members seem happy with my skills.
It was clear to me after I reviewed the 360 evaluation that I needed to improve in the following areas: I need to delegate more, I need to be clearer and more direct when I am asking somebody to do something, my apologetic tones need to go, I need to be more proactive when motivating others,
Stephen Covey said “What you do has far greater impact than what you say.”
My experience being on the Clubs committee has been only positive, the other members are exceptionally supportive and we are all pulling in the same direction, as we all want the same thing. If you have a chance to serve on your Club’s committee, I would advice you to take it. It is such a wonderful opportunity to learn and to improve your Leadership skills. I have really enjoyed my time in Toastmasters, and am delighted that I joined the Club.
Thank you Madam Toastmaster, Madam President and fellow Toastmasters for your time today.