Toastmasters International is well-known for its programme to develop skills in Public Speaking. It's name alone suggests a focus on public speaking - its origins being in the art of after-dinner speaking - toastmastering.
Communication AND Leadership
What is not so apparent is the major programme in Leadership that Toastmasters International has developed. Indeed, for most newcomers to Toastmasters, they do not specifically join to learn Leadership Skills - and to many members, Leadership may not be a focus until they realise that the highest award - the Distinguished Toastmaster award - cannot be achieved without completing the Leadership Track as well.
Why are Leadership Skills important?
For many people, Leadership is something only a few can do. It's the domain of Managers, Corporate Executives, Big Business, Politicians. It's something that is beyond reach. It's something that people in positions of authority have. It's a skill we ourselves don't need. From some perspectives, they may be right! At some times in our lives, though, many of us find ourselves needing to:-
- work with one or more people to achieve something
- teach someone something we ourselves have learnt
- extract information from others so that we ourselves can achieve something
- engage someone else to take on our point of view
- chair a meeting
- help a group solve a problem
- assist an organisation as a Co-ordinator, Secretary, Treasurer or President
- help a group arrive at a decision
- change the way something is done
- show appreciation for someones contribution
- give frank and honest feedback to people
- resolve conflict or disagreement between people
Each of these activities need us to leverage our listening skills, our communication skills, our influencing skills, our credibility. To develop these traits, is to develop Leadership Skills. And... in fact, everyone is a leader - because everyone contributes to the outcomes they experience.
Toastmasters can help develop Leadership Skills
By participating in Toastmasters, there are a number of ways you can assess and practice your abilities to work with others; Leading you to develop skills you may never have thought possible or necessary.
You may even find that developing these skills will help you manage time more effectively so that you can have more time for things that you really enjoy!