What positive influence has being an Executive Committee (ex-comm) member had on your career?
Everyone has a reason to join Toastmasters. As evidenced by countless speeches, it leaves a mark on every individual’s life. We were curious about the extent of the part it played in helping members in their professional lives – whether in networking, finding a job, furthering one’s career, finding new opportunities, solving problems, showing leadership in times of crisis et al.
Toastmasters places a lot of emphasis on leadership. A good leader also needs to be a good communicator. An aspiring leader’s journey starts at the club level. Those are the Toastmasters’ equivalent of grassroots. It is where the real leadership training starts. Being part of a club’s executive committee requires the ability to have a vision, to shoulder responsibilities, to be empathetic, to be a good mentor/guide, and to carry the club baton forward from the previous team. These are some of the qualities that organisations expect from their employees. Having demonstrated them in a formal setting such as Toastmasters can potentially have an incredible impact in one’s career.
Therefore, we asked the past executive committee members of various clubs about their experiences in performing their roles. Let’s see what they have to say…
Priya Muthukumar, the charismatic area director of I3, is the immediate past president of Rising Pillars Toastmasters club. Under her leadership, the club has grown formidable in terms of talent and potential. It has won many awards at District conferences. One look at the young club’s resume will inform the reader of its extraordinary achievements. Within merely 1.5 years of its existence, it has managed to get noticed by all of District 82.
All this makes one wonder how influential the role of club president is. Priya says in her own words, “The moment a Toastmaster is elected as the president of the club he/she will be asked to deliver the presidential acceptance speech. In those two minutes, you must inspire with word. Further, through your activities you demonstrate to your members that we are walking together towards a mission. An acceptance speech without the mission is similar to building an air castle.”
When she took up the role, the club was in its nascent stage. And her team comprised of relatively new ex comm members. Therefore, the primary goal was to make them understand their roles and responsibilities. It required patience. However, she wasn’t deterred by anything. As she began to demonstrate all the qualities that were expected of ex comm members, others were motivated to respond and join in.
Now, coming to how this demonstrates leadership in her professional life, Priya says, “It made me react less and respond more. I learnt how to influence others in a positive way.” Her ex comm team had members belonging to different age groups and it provided her with an opportunity to understand how their perspectives differed during each challenge.
While Priya has demonstrated the best way of going about with executing her role as the president, we asked for her views on the don’ts. She says it’s all about building one’s own standards and not blindly imitating anyone. “You can’t please everyone, but you need to act on genuine feedback given to you.”
Before signing off, we asked her about memorable moments in her presidential term. She said, ”They received a silver badge crediting our club for being rank 4 from Tamilnadu and Srilanka. That was a goosebumps moment for us as a baby club chartered in the year 2015. And yet we managed to accomplish so much!”
We can’t agree more!
Vice President – Education
Dikshma Paul has had an impressive Toastmasters journey. An important part of being the VPE of a club is being able to motivate individuals to pursue their respective CCs, CLs, ACBs, ACLs, etc. It’s a job that requires a lot of conviction and positive attitude. When asked on how she went about it, she gracefully gave credit to the “never back down” attitude of her club members.
It’s no wonder, therefore, that Dikshma was able to successfully guide her newly chartered club, Sol VIT Toastmasters, into achieving 10/10 DCP points in a span of 6 months. Now, there is a funny story behind the serious achievement. Until as recently as last week, she had been under the impression that the Distinguished club points were to be achieved in 6 months. But in reality, it is to be achieved in a year. It was a fortunate misunderstanding as it led to the club achieving a perfect DCP score in half the allotted time.
One of the challenges she faced during her tenure was dealing with the back-outs every week. Again, she credits her club members for readily taking up the roles whenever required.
“So how do you plan to use your ex comm experience in your chosen career?”, we asked her. She says, “Initially, I used to think about myself, my roles and my commitments only. Now, I think about how others (members) will benefit from my work? Will it make their life better? Am I doing enough for their betterment?”
That is servant leadership in its pure form!
Vice President – Membership
Arun Alavala of Infosys Toastmasters demonstrates what it takes to be the VP membership of a club. It’s a tough job as it is, more so when the club has membership retention issues. It is addressing that problem and producing great results that have made Arun stand out. He has set a record of 40% growth in membership in a club that had member retention issues.
We asked Arun about his role and the challenges that come with it. In his words, “VPM is the one who is responsible for getting new members into the club and also for renewing membership of the existing members. So ideally, VPM serves as the backbone of club growth.” He says the foremost difficulty is to meet the GG/GG+ criterion on the membership front i.e., to get the base membership renewals on-time and also to ensure membership growth of the club.
How does he do it? According to Arun, the key is in all the vice presidents working together to promote the club. As the VP membership, it’s his responsibility to invite guests and talk to them about the achievements of the club. The VP education ensures that the meetings are of high quality, which helps the VP membership to take things forward.
A crucial part of this task is in establishing credibility and good connect with the guests. That’ll help in complementing the VPM’s efforts. We asked Arun his thoughts on this. He says, “If you say that, being a member in Toastmasters improves your communication skills, you should create an impression that you’re good at communication to the guests. That is when as a VPM, you gain credibility. Also, a VPM should frequently take up some roles or give speeches in the club meetings in order to gain momentum while speaking to the guests.”
Arun has demonstrated exemplary contribution as the vice president of membership of a club.
“Who do you think should take up this role?”, we asked him. He says, “Being a VPM will definitely improve one’s marketing skills. But, any individual who wishes to gear up for a challenging career should take up this role.”
Other Ex-Com roles to be continued in the next post. Click HERE to read the next blog on VP-PR and Secretary