Tag Archives: toastmasters

The 5 Levels of Leadership in Toastmasters


Last night I was award the Golden Gaveller Award by my Club, the Golden Gavel Advanced Club. It was truly an honour but also a surprise as I did not expect it.  Thank you Golden Gavel for this honour.

It got me thinking about Leadership and Toastmasters. For the first ten years of my TI life, I  was unaware of the benefits of the leadership track in TI. I was only interested in speaking, connecting and bonding with those like-minded individuals who have the same passion for self-development as I did.  Because I enjoyed the common ground found at meetings I powered through various committee roles, including President, as  there was no one else to do it, without paying heed to any learning, and thus missed out on a great opportunity to grow and develop true leadership.

I look back amazed at how much I have grown… but also how much TI has grown. Without a doubt this organisation has become a world leader in both communication and leadership development. With an excess of 270,000 members scattered across 14 global regions, found in almost every country on the globe, it is truly the best investment (each meeting costing the price of a Big Mac and Coke) you can make in yourself.  By attending a meeting at one of the 13,000 clubs, you are immediately part of a series of learn-by-doing workshops, which form a sustainable education programme that is based on  life-long, sound bite self-learning,

That is not all!! There is more…. Much more…   becoming visible only when you truly get involved in the leadership track which begins with completing of the Competent Leadership Manual.

We know that we live in complex world spinning out of control, everyone trying to do things cheaper, faster, better in order to compete for survival. We also know that many of the challenges facing the world today are the result of poor communication and toxic leadership.  Every man and his dog talks about leadership!  Everywhere you look there are books and seminars on leadership. Hundreds and thousands of rands and especially dollars are spent on leadership development – yet every day in every way we are live with the results of appalling leadership.

Why ?

Leadership is not a course you can go on, get the piece of paper and hey presto you are a leader!  Leadership is a process, a journey of self-development, passing through a number of levels of leadership.  Since I became the division governor, I realised how amazing the TI leadership journey is because it takes you step-by-step through all the levels of leadership …. Provided you follow the manuals and commit to carrying out our responsibilities reliably.  Attached is TI Leadership Levels to show how it works:

Three profound things I learn are:

  1. We don’t recycle leaders – leaders must keep growing, moving to new positions, designing visions, missions and toolkits to get us there, otherwise they become toxic in their style – we take on the leadership job for one year max (three if we are coordinators) and then we move on to make space for new leaders  – the minute a leader stays in the same position longer than the required period that is when problems arise, dictatorship sets in. Megalomaniacs suffer from the leaders for life syndrome, and we know what the result of that is.
  2. Immediate Pasts are the great mentors that keep this global organisation thriving – the immediate past presidents and the immediate past governors are our secret weapon, our Magic Mentors, our atomic missiles… their selfless giving is where servant leadership comes from
  3. Every level of leadership requires different skills to ensure success

With mounting complexity and interdependence and the increasing pace of change in organizational environments, leadership agility has become a much-needed competency. The ability to connect with others using many methods, is an essential trait for success. Keep learning, growing and adapting. Your journey of connecting with others begins now!

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