How Toastmasters Actually Works

(This post originally appeared on my own blog The Toastmaster.)

Over my working career of 50 years or so, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many interesting people. These managers, bosses, owners and associates came with their own management styles and their own foibles and mannerisms.

Some were inspirational leaders. I had a mentor back when I was a young man who literally changed my life for the better. I’ve also had some managers who did everything they could to make everyone’s life around them as miserable as possible and, for the most part, usually succeeded at least until they too were terminated (nice word!).

I’ve recently taken on a new role in Toastmasters as a mentor of a new club and my recent experiences got me thinking about management styles and how we approach leadership in the Toastmaster program.

At my own club, First Oakville Toastmasters, the management style might best be described as we leave no Toastmaster behind.

What does this mean?

Without identifying anyone let’s put it this way: Sometimes new members need a lot of mentoring.  I sure did when I joined. It’s not because they’re incompetent or difficult but they’re new and they can be new in many different ways. They aren’t aware of the Toastmaster culture of supporting each other in Toastmasters and then, there’s mentoring as done at First Oakville.

I’ve seen actions and progress with new members at Toastmasters which could only happen under the direct monitorship of one senior member helping a newcomer to achieve. It is so heartwarming to witness and the results, as you might imagine, are amazing. And, they’re amazing not just for the new member or the mentor but for the entire club and dare I say all of Toastmasters.

One of management processes I’m learning (after 50 years of essentially being my own worst enemy as someone who works very independently of others – with both good and bad results) emphasizes that the people are much more important than the process.

Any driver manager can get results (and often get results that far exceed their peers) but the human wreckage left behind is enormous and not something we should tolerate as Toastmasters, as workers, as citizens and as just plain people.

Often new members come to Toastmasters seeking education, positive experiences and new ways of moving forward in their lives. It doesn’t take that new member long to realize there is so much more to our program and the sincerity of our welcome at the door never ends. And that’s why so many of us keep coming back – it works.

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