Voluntary Champions

  • Have you been challenged in your Toastmaster journey recently?
  • Did you ride the roller coaster of DOUBT? Doubt that you could RISE to the challenge?

roller coaster

International Pathways Guides Team Building

My recent challenge, as a leader among fellow International Toastmasters, was to build a collaborative team of voluntary champions. Their mission (should they choose to accept) was to support a selection of clubs from District U as they prepared for Pathways roll out scheduled for May 15. Each would perform similar duties to other Pathways Guides and Ambassadors who have been supporting clubs within their own districts.

The BIG DIFFERENCE was that everything would need to be done online – they would be expected to visit club meetings and provide support session virtually!

This seemed like a mission impossible – and I was filled with doubt – doubt that I could become a leader for this massive project involving over 160 clubs and doubt that we could recruit the required number of voluntary champions in time. I was on a roller coaster ride – reaching the top of one learning curve and then plunging into yet another learning curve. Imagine what sights you can see at the top of a roller coaster track filling you with awe and wonder, and then imagine that sudden drop with your heart in your mouth and your stomach contents doing flip flops, as you cascade down to the bottom of the next roller coaster track.

It was like that at the beginning of this ambitious High Performance Leadership project.

As soon as the ‘call to action’ was sent by George Marshall, I was jumping straight in, ready to ‘make a difference’. (Luckily there was nothing scary involved such as ‘this message will self-destruct in 30 seconds)!

I could see a perfect opportunity for the skilled online toastmasters in my Network. I could see them ‘at the top of their leadership journeys’ gaining the experiences and feeling the excitement of leading outside their comfort zone. The vision was enticing and I took the challenge to team up with George Marshall in D57 and recruit a Steering Committee. Momentum expanded in January this year and after meeting with our chosen Steering Committee, Michelle Alba-Lim and Mark Snow in February, we had high hopes for our success!

The four core values in Toastmasters enabled us to work toward fulfilling our mission.  Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence are the core values of Toastmasters.

RespectIn Toastmasters we Respect each other – I had enormous respect for the talents and principles of my wide community of online Toastmasters. All we had to do was reach out and invite them to volunteer their time! Add to this growing networks of Pathways Guides with whom we had connected in our own communities online and we realized that we had a huge pool of voluntary champions from which to recruit. Our February task to find 32 talented online Pathways Guides. (We built in a fail safe clause for this part of the roller coaster ride – we needed 28 – and we knew that we may lose some.)

integrityIn Toastmasters we have Integrity. We do what we say we will do. That knowledge gave us the confidence to expect eager responses from our ‘expressions of interest’ to participate in the project. So many of our voluntary champions stepped up eagerly – they were eager to make a difference. (I had originally thought I would be ‘steering’ not ‘guiding’ then I needed to increase my own integrity – I stepped up as a Guide too. I needed to experience the same as other OPGs in order to support them effectively.)

Iservicen Toastmasters, we are here to give service to other members. Leadership is about how many people we can serve not how many people serve us. This core value was an ideal framework for such an ambitious project – an opportunity to demonstrate that it is all about how many lives benefit from the service we give. Toastmasters from Kenya to Karachi; from Rwanda to Russia; from Chile to Costa Rica; from Mauritius to Morocco and from Serbia to Slovenia – are showing gracious acceptance of our offers of support.

excellenceToastmasters thrive for excellence! We give each other constructive feedback so we can be the best we can be. This project has provided further opportunities to support each other in a cooperative learning environment. I am so impressed with the way in which small teams have banded together to present Pathways Experience in different languages (French and Spanish translators have been in high demand). We have experienced a range of challenges, moving us outside our comfort zones. Some clubs are needing extra help for the process of reinstatement – others are brand new chartered clubs that need help in club management.

Personal challenges for me have included the assignment of clubs to the Online Pathways Guides based on:

  • time zone compatibility
  • language needs
  • balance of clubs per guide

This process took me on another roller coaster – juggling the various components to find a workable mix. Some of these assignments were turned on their head when our team membership reduced (due to ill health or conflict of interests). Reassignment requests were always met with enthusiastic agreement – even when this meant that one or two Online Pathways Guides had up to 8 clubs to serve.

This wonderful team of Online Pathways Guides has risen to every challenge – they are awesome Voluntary Champions.

I recommend close attention to details of our core values when you are challenged with a large international team leadership project. Use Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence as your framework to build your team of Voluntary Champions.

Prepare to be amazed!

Reference: RISE – the Toastmasters International Values 

Acknowledgement and Thanks to the Online Pathways Guides – you are AMAZING!

Blue Team Green Team Orange Team Yellow Team
George Marshall Michelle Alba-Lim Carole McCulloch Mark Snow
Ashwani Kumar Sinha Brian Dodd Fabiola Cleofa Adrian Watts
Cate Arnold Jing Humphreys Krishn Ramchurn Julie Kertesz
Ellen Arthur John Todorovic Mark Worthy Mufid Mustafa
Kannan Shankara Maria Martinez Matthew Kleinosky Narayanan Doraswamy
Marci Antion Marian Gramlich Samir Malak Scott Johnston
  Mathilde Fischer Wendy Upasena Valerie Pedvin
  Zaldy Co Magda Van Rooyen