This is the thought that I have had multiple times this year as the president of my Toastmasters club. See I have never really served in a leadership role with a title. I have absolutely been a leader in most of my jobs but never with a title. This year has been quite interesting, to say the least.
I have contemplated quitting as much if not more than I have yelled out to God about this durn year of presidency. I read through the book Developing the Leader Within 2.0 by John Maxwell when I first became president but nothing stuck because I read it as an instruction manual. It wasn’t relevant to me because I had not officially done the work. It was a reference book at best but today, it is my leadership bible.
You have to get the book to fully understand but the references to the five levels of leadership are so true. I was naive to think that a winning personality and desire to lead would be enough. Patrice Washington of Redefining Wealth Podcast says that clarity comes in the doing. Boy! Was she right? As I reread John Maxwell’s book after completing almost a year in leadership, I completely understand the principles from a different perspective.
While I have a great team of volunteers who want to serve our club in our executive committee, there were things that I could have done better to make sure that we executed certain things sooner, quicker, and faster. I made the mistake of managing my teammates’ responses to doing what was necessary to reach our goals in a timely manner. I unfairly assumed that they would be offended or feel like I was bothering them rather than giving them an opportunity to speak for themselves.
If I am honest, the truth is that I do that in most of my relationships. I don’t give people the opportunity to tell me how they feel about my requests. I work on one side of what is needed and leave it at that. Can anyone else relate? I suppose this is why the assessment that I took on Toastmasters International’s website said that I needed to take the Team Collaboration as a Path in Pathways.
I have learned so much in the past few months.
- I have learned that no matter how nervous I am, to allow my team to talk. I talk a lot when I am nervous. They have great ideas, too. Silence is their moment for thinking. Let them sit in that.
- I have learned to ask questions even when I have a solution. Again, let them talk it out. The truth is that I have been sitting with these questions and ideas for longer than our 45-minute meeting so I have had time to process and think things through.
- I have learned the importance of following up and offer support when I notice someone is not performing at their best. Tough and uncomfortable conversations are a part of leadership. Not to mention that I may have built it up in my head to be more than what it really is. Sometimes people really did not know what to do and did not ask for help.
- Lastly, I learned that my teammates are more like me than I accept. Everyone wants to do the best possible job with what they have. They just need someone to challenge them to stretch themselves in their creativity, production, and follow-through.
I only have a little bit more time in this role as president and am grateful for the stretching even if I yell at God for allowing it. This has definitely been a long day’s journey but worth every twist and turn that got me here.
I would love to hear from you about your own lessons in leadership whether you are new to it like me or you have been at it for years. What is your favorite lesson? Leave a comment below.