Friday, November 20, 2009

Leadership and Management Training - Toastmasters Style

By Edwin Ebreo

This post is inspired by an educational speech I delivered at El Presidente Toastmasters club. Thanks to club President Marilyn Abella for the opportunity.

When people join Toastmasters it is mostly for one purpose and that is to enhance their public speaking skills. What not too many people appreciate is that Toastmasters is a great training ground for developing leadership and management skills among others. the functions members play is a practicum for some corporate management roles. Let me cite them one by one.

In case you don't get to finish reading this post, be forewarned that the Toastmasters Leadership Training that I am tackling here only works for those who want and strive to be better. Practically nothing can be learned from mediocrity. This only applies to those who subscribe to the idea that anything worth doing is worth doing well. Read on for more learning.

Sgt-at-Arms a.k.a. Events Manager
If you get elected to this post, you will be responsible for seeing to it that club meetings run smoothly. It means all logistics are prepared, people know what to expect and how to behave and their needs are anticipated and addressed. Taking the challenge of regularly coordinating toastmasters meetings and getting better at it every time develops your skill for events management. It sharpens your anticipation, planning and coordinating skills. It helps you develop the discipline needed by events managers for ingress and egress.

Treasurer a.k.a. club CFO
When you take on this role, you are not only holding the clubs coffers, you are managing its finances. You worry about revenue generation, cash flow and liquidity. You learn to forecast, plan and control because you of all people in the club knows how much money it takes to maintain the club's lifestyle. Aren't those the same exact things that finance managers do in a business?

Secretary a.k.a. Knowledge Manager
The secretary keeps the club's record, keeps minutes of meetings and ensure accessibility of information when needed. By that I mean not just during this term but long after. Many corporations now invest in keeping corporate history in tact as people come and go. It helps keep people aligned and motivated to contribute to that history in a positive way. It helps keep good practices, stay as good practices from one manager to the next. A good secretary ensures that information and communication is archived and ready for use when needed. It takes planning, strategic thinking, persistence and resilience to do this right. this job builds character.

VP- PR a.k.a. Head of Marketing
This is an amazingly challenging and exciting job. When I took this role, I looked at the job description and realized I have very little preparation for it. I searched high and low for ways to generate awareness about our club and got interested in Internet marketing and SEO. The result is BnT website becoming one of the top results for finding clubs in Makati and Philippines. It also became a source of information for managing clubs and meetings, not to mention entertaining and chock full of wisdom speeches from club members. We get inquiries almost everyday and get new members regularly thanks to having meetings that are worth attending. as they say the sales man sells the first machine, the engineers sell the rest. Know what i mean?

VP- Membership a.k.a. Head of HR.
This role has two important objectives. They are recruitment and retention. The incumbent gets help from VP-PR in attracting guests but once they attend the meeting, our Head of HR must have a strategy for getting them enrolled and later on engaged. They make sure that the guests feel the love of the club. When they become members, they are integrated in the club and not stick out like a sore thumb. It takes the sensibility and nurturing nature of a good HR Manager to do this job right. I recommend that you look to HR Managers for inspiration on how to do this job. The good ones, not the ones who suck.

VP-Education a.k.a. COO
Think about it. If Toastmasters is all about education, then this person is definitely the boss. It takes a great combination of leadership and management skills to do this job right. The end product of this operation are the CC's AC's, CL's and AL's. As expected the head of operations works with marketing to generate the customers, HR to keep them and the mentors as aides in keeping them moving towards their goals. if you are head of operations, you can't afford to make excuses for not producing the needed results. You know that failing to deliver the right numbers of CC's, etc. is like failing the business. Isn't this a good laboratory for operations management?

President a.k.a. CEO, a.k.a. Chief Inspirer , a.k.a. Great Leader
Definitely not Chief Slave. The reason for a company's failure is the failure of the leader to lead and inspire. This to me is both the easiest and the hardest job of all. It's the easiest when the leader manages to form a cohesive working team. When everyone is clear about the goals and all play their roles well, the leader doesn't have much to do but  keep everyone inspired and motivated. It's the hardest because inspiring people to do their jobs well is not the easiest thing in the world to do. As a matter of fact, some Presidents find it easier to fill in the jobs of non-functioning officers than inspire them to do their job. The keys to a President's success are the same keys to any Leadership success. Let me borrow from Kouzes and Posner to describe those keys. They are; inspiring a shared vision, modeling the way, empowering others to act, challenging the process and encouraging the heart. What I learned from experience is you cannot demonstrate all these leadership practices in absence. A good CEO has to be present and in the thick of things in order to make all these happen.

There are other leadership and management skills to be learned in Toastmasters that run across all leadership and management positions of organizations. They are mentoring and evaluating.

Mentoring a new club member (or a new club President in the case of Immediate Past Presidents) is an important human resource development activity that all supervisors and managers must learn how to do. It's important for them to be able to help shape people's skills and abilities so they can contribute optimally to their organizations. The same is true with club mentors, their job is not just to answer questions that new members or new presidents have but help shape them to achieve their full Toastmasters potential. You can't be a good mentor if you are acting like a help desk to your "protege". A manager cannot be a good mentor if they think that telling their staff to let them know if they have any question so they can respond to them.

My friend TM Boom San Agustin said employees don't need criticism, to improve their performance, they need encouragement. The best place to learn how to do that is in Toastmasters. Whenever you evaluate a fellow member's speech you keep in mind that you want this person to deliver another speech and a better one at that. You use the various techniques that you learned from other members to do this job right. You know very well that after you evaluated a speaker, you will be evaluated on how well you were able to point out the person's strengths, how clearly you shared your suggestions on how the person can improve and how you were able to encourage the speaker to do it again. That's another way for you to learn how to get better at it, another way to learn how to give better feedback to your employees if you are a manager.

There you have it, all possible leadership and management skills that I can think of at the moment that you can learn by joining and becoming an officer of a Toastmasters club. So, join a club, take a role and STRIVE TO BECOME GREAT AT IT. As I said, there's practically nothing to be learned when you are being mediocre at what you do. Make Toastmasters your laboratory, and then apply your discoveries to your leadership and management responsibilities in your other organizations. This is the way to make the most of your Toastmasters membership.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails