Reflect on your Path

This week I have been reflecting on my progress in my third Path and unpacking what I have learned and achieved. My overall perception of my growth as a Public Speaker and a Leader has definitely changed in the 14 months I have been working in Pathways. Changed for the better!

Pathways has provided me with a welcome challenge to my personal and professional development. I now understand the Pathways framework!

My understanding of the ‘Why Toastmasters?’ question has improved and deepened – there is so much more to achievements than just completing a manual of speeches, a suite of projects in a Level or a number of roles in a meeting. Now I am much more focused on my long term goals and how to select a Path that will help me achieve them. Now I know how to plan ahead and select elective projects to fit my short term goals. Now I am a much more knowledgeable and skilled mentor after completing the Pathways Mentor Program.

I have completed Effective Coaching and Visionary Communication and almost finished with Strategic Relationships. My next Path, Team Collaboration, is already selected and I have begun to request my speeches for projects in Levels 1 and 2 with my clubs. Meanwhile I have scoped my approach to my Pathways Distinguished Toastmasters program and will be working on that during 2019.

This week I am looking back over my achievements and experiences in those Paths and preparing my final speech for Strategic Relationships.

Toastmasters like me, who reach Level 5 in their Paths, need to prepare for the final project Reflect on Your Path, as the final requirement for Path completion.
reflect on path purpose

  • What are your strategies for engaging your audience in this final 10-12 minute speech?
  • How will you summarize the skills you have learned and developed?
  • Why should you consider the process of reflecting on your growth during the completion of an entire Path?

reflecting on learning experience

I like this quote from John Dewey for its relevance to us as we reach this part of our journey in a Path.

Thinking back on the 14 projects that you have completed in the Path is essential in preparing for the Reflect on your Path project.

But what do you do after that? How do you share your reflections with an audience?

Reflective Practice

I recommend a simple Reflective Practice process to prepare for this project! This process is based on the Gibbs Reflective Cycle model.

reflective practice

  1. What happened?
    • Describe what happened during your Path:
      • who did you involve
      • where did you give speeches
      • what did you learn from the projects
  2. Thoughts
    • Self-awareness:
      • what did you feel
      • how did others around you feel
      • how do you feel about the outcomes of projects
  3. Evaluation
    • Consider your feedback:
      • what went well and not so well, in your speeches, from others’ perspectives
      • what was good and not so good about your own experiences
      • what feedback have you been able to incorporate into other projects
  4. Analysis
    • What is your learning viewpoint:
      • break down your Path into the levels and consider each one separately
      • ask new questions to dig deeper and make sense of your progress
  5. Conclusion
    • Synthesis:
      • explore what you could have done differently
      • define new strategies or directions
  6. Action Plan
    • Implement your learning:
      • consider what you will do for the next Path
      • consider how you will share your reflections with others in your club

At the end of this process you will have a speech outline for Reflect on Your Path. Plus you will have become a Reflective Practitioner.

reflective practitioner Someone who:

  • Takes the time to step back and make sense of what was done and why
  • Tries to understand the (often implicit) ‘theories of change’ that guide actions
  • Is not afraid to challenge assumptions – both their own and those of others.

Are you a Reflective Practitioner?

How will you share your reflections in Reflect on your Path?

In my next post, I will show you how to create your own Reflective Practice Eportfolio!

eportfolio for reflection on pathways

Leadership Style: lessons learned

Toastmasters, what do YOU do when you are building a new team? And what are YOUR strategies for team success?

Here are my three lessons for successful team building:
effective timing, strategic networking, and visionary planning.

  1. Building teams requires effective timing!

One year ago, I was about to launch myself into the realms of Pathways as a Guide. The purpose was to support 8-10 clubs in preparing for Pathways. This was the start of new experiences as a leader and I was determined to grow my own skills – the soft skills in communicating with Toastmasters I was yet to meet. I was comfortable with my own clubs and the company of my Club members and do have a reputation for coaching. However, I was also feeling dis-empowered as Pathways Guides back then, were not yet fully immersed in Base Camp. The experience of leading back then was like evangelism, attempting to enthuse the clubs about a new system that I had NO practical experience with. My leadership had to rely on the trust of the people I was leading.

Timing of my work as a Pathways Guide was ‘off kilter’ by about three months – the real work of supporting clubs in my districts became more effective at the beginning of 2018 when the impact of Pathways roll out was being felt. The early club visits prior to roll out were NOT effective in building teams, the later virtual support sessions were.

Growth of trust with this new group was the first important lesson learned for my new leadership style. AND Building trust among the Pathways champions within the clubs was an integral strategy towards their empowerment.

  1. Building teams requires strategic networking!

Six months ago, I was immersed in building a new team of Pathways Guides who were to support the 150 clubs in District U. Little did I know then just how important this team was to be AND how important the networking was to be. The first step was to build a steering committee and to include direct liaison with WHQ. George Marshall and I each recommended another member and then we were four. Each of the four recommended candidates for the larger team and then we were 32. The process of identifying, inviting, short listing and selecting online Pathways Guides was a collaborative effort using online collaborative tools like Google docs and sheets to share our project plans.

Building a network of communication strategies with this new team was an integral strategy toward their empowerment. Each of the four was to lead groups of eight and to collaborate with the teams to ensure that all 32 were informed, empowered, and valued.

Social media, regular Guide Support Sessions online and centralized email were employed for consistent communication and support of the teams.

There were some unexpected challenges in this project: lack of contact with clubs, some clubs folding and new ones forming, difficulty in scheduling effective meeting times in different time zones, and life issues for one or two guides. It was the networking that provided the solutions for each of these challenges and strengthened the comradery among the team. Guides stepped up to fill gaps and go the extra mile in the collaborative spirit of an international team with strong ethics.

  1. Building a team requires visionary planning!

Just one month ago I began to form a new team called D73 Team Pathways. My vision for D73 success in integrating Pathways was built on the experiences in the other two projects. This new team is required to support the new executives in the 350 clubs across Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania during the transition period.

Firstly, we will work with the District trio to support the ongoing efforts of Team Pathways – going beyond the Pathways Guides model – embedding pathways integration through support of the Base Camp Managers. This group (mostly new executives elected at changeover in June/July) now needed ongoing support in providing services to all members of all 350 clubs in the district.

Secondly, we will work on providing a framework for building a larger team – ensuring that at least one person in each club was empowered to support club members throughout the transition period. Team pathways will support this larger team with monthly webinars for the BCMs, scheduled as two separate events – giving choices, for weekend or weeknight.

Thirdly, we will work in collaboration with D70 to build a framework for support across Region 12. Keeping the vision clearly in view – our success in integrating Pathways – we can utilise strategies to empower, communicate and collaborate. For example: Region 12 Base Camp Managers discussion forum was initiated.

I have learned that “before you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you are a leader, success is all about growing others.”
Jack Welch

Growing others requires effective timing, strategic networking, and visionary planning.

What is YOUR vision for team success?