Dynamic Leadership 5.2b – HPL 

Have you looked at Pathways and wondered what the High Performance Leadership (HPL) Project is about?

Good evening Mr Toastmaster, Mr President, Fellow Toastmasters and very welcome guests.

The function of the High Performance Leadership (HPL) project is to use your leadership and planning knowledge to develop a project plan, organise a guidance committee, and implement your plan with the help of a team. It is also designed to give you a chance to put your skills into practice. It shows you how your Leadership skills are progressing and it can assist you in figuring out areas you could possibly focus on for improvement.

This project is one of the longer ones to complete, but, it is really helpful. It is not a component in all Paths, but, in some Paths it is compulsory, these include Level 5 in Effective Coaching, Innovative Planning and Persuasive Influence, in others it is an elective. It is an incredibly flexible Project as you can base it on absolutely anything, which is fantastic. If you are targeting the Distinguished Toastmaster Award, you will need to complete the HPL as part of that process. I would recommend taking part in this project as you could use it for work, another hobby, or an organisation that you are involved in. I would also advise people to think about what topic they might focus on and to get started before they reach Level 5.

Once I had come up with the Project idea, the development of the plan was straight forward, as there was really one way to execute the plan. For me, coming up with the idea was the tricky bit, for the simple fact that the HPL Project is so flexible. I had a lot of ideas, but, I kept making them too complicated and they did not have as clear an ending as the plan I finally settled on. 

Simon Sinek said “The goal is not to be perfect by the end. The goal is to better tomorrow”.

One of the reasons I picked this particular topic, apart from the fact that I like to help people, is that when I joined Toastmasters, the Organisation had just replaced the CC and CL Manual programme that they had been using for years with the new Pathways programme. I volunteered to try and figure out the new system and to share the knowledge with our Club. My theory was that this would help both me and our Club, that has to be a win, right? 

I remember when I started trying to grasp Pathways, to a quote a friend of mine from Tipperary ‘it was like looking into a field full of thistles’. In other words, at the start it was all a little confusing and it took time to try and figure it all out, especially with some of the contradictory information that was issued at the start. However, Toastmasters have now clarified their information and are constantly improving the TI site. The thing about trying to clear fields of thistles or learning something brand new, is that you just need to start somewhere and then everything else will fall into place eventually. 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said “What is not started today is never finished tomorrow”.

What did the HPL teach me, you may be asking? Well, the ongoing battle between aspiration and reality was further solidified. Yes, I wanted to get this project finished by April, and yes, it is now June. 

Hands up if your life has gotten in the way of some of your best laid plans. Mine certainly has, and on a far more frequent basis than I would like.

Thank you, you may then agree with Robert Burns, who said ‘the best laid plans take 40 years to complete’. 

This project helped me to practice my active listening and my ability to take on other peoples perspectives and advice and act accordingly. I learnt that picking the right person for a job, can be a challenge, and that it is ok to ask people to do you a favour. The worst they can do is say no. That’s ok.  I HATE asking people for help, as I don’t want to disturb people or put them under undue pressure to say yes, or give them another task to do. It also taught me the difference between Leaders and Managers. 

I learnt about the best ways to deal with disagreements between project personnel, on a purely theoretical basis, as there was no stress between the people helping me. The training information on Pathways in relation to this subject was brilliant. The tools Toastmaster supplies you with are exceptionally useful.

One of the most useful elements of this Project was the 360 degree evaluation. I learnt a lot of about both myself and how others perceive me. It has given me a number of things to try and improve upon, and I am now working towards those goals.

One of the criteria of the HPL Project is that it has a specific, measurable outcome that all can see has been attained. With that in mind, I’m pleased to report that most members are now using Pathways. Excellent work everyone! I look forward to seeing some of your HPL Projects in the future. 

There are elements I could have personally improved upon and should I complete another HPL in the future, I will keep these points in mind. One of the reasons I joined Toastmasters was to continue my quest for knowledge and for self improvement, I believe that this Project, like all Toastmasters Projects, has definitely helped me with this aim.

If anyone has any queries about Pathways, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Many thanks to Karen O’Donnell, Colm Roe, and John Dunleavy for becoming my Committee for this Project. Thanks also goes to Grainne who I worked with in the early days of the Project to produce some documentation. Thank you all, your help, kindness and advice was invaluable and very much appreciated.  

Thank you Mr Toastmaster, Mr President, Fellow Toastmasters, and very welcome guests.

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