Division A Governor Gerry Fryer  - speech to 2014-15 Club Officers at Division A Officer Training - 06/26/14

On behalf of Division A and the more than 800,000 people in Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Markham who can benefit from what you do, thank you for being here. Today you have become leaders!

You may not yet realize the potential you now have as a club officer and leader. That’s what I’m going to talk about this evening.  All of you have my respect for stepping up to leadership. Give yourself a big hand for that! By the end of this training evening you will be on your way to giving back to the members of your clubs – that’s why they elected you, to serve them!

Our club mission statements include these words: “members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth”.

My fellow leaders, what you have signed up for this year is -- an exchange program. You have agreed to invest yourself in your club, and in return -- you will become a better person. Tonight that process begins.

How does a person become a leader? Long ago, it was a royal birthright. Or the leader may have been the strongest one – that’s the case in animal societies, after all. Money once dictated who got to the top, but even that circumstance is fading away.  In a society based on merit like ours, who emerges? Is it the child who takes the lead with others at home or in kindergarten? Is it the smartest one in the room? Or is it the quiet person who pays attention to what goes on around them, learns from experience, and gradually develops an understanding of what motivates people and what really works?

I first became a leader at the ripe age of 51. Earlier in life I believed I was the smartest guy in the room – until the room got a lot bigger, at university. It took a long time to polish my softer skills. I was an introvert and I had to learn how to relate to people. Along the way I became fascinated by the characteristics of good and bad leaders – in politics and in the workplace. I watched them and I read about them. I acquired mentors, formal and informal. Through this process, when my leadership opportunity finally arrived, I was ready to succeed.

My leadership guru, the great Warren Bennis, says that the most important ingredient for a great leader is Trust. Here are 3 principles under that umbrella:

  • Leaders are Authentic – they are the same as leaders as they are in the rest of their lives.
  • They are Reliable – they support their co-workers, or the people in their club, when it matters.
  • They have Integrity – leaders honour their commitments and promises.

I recommend Mr. Bennis’ book “On Becoming a Leader” to you, as you develop into a more effective leader in the safe Toastmasters space.

But wait – you thought you were coming to a training session and tonight’s program is headed ‘Generating Club Excellence (by Training Committed Club Officers).’ Is this a trick? Not really. Our ultimate goal is having excellent clubs in Division A; you are the catalysts for achieving that excellence; and tonight’s training will help you become a catalyst in your club.

What will you come away with after tonight? Your training will be relevant to your specific role in your club. You will learn how. 

  • To lead by example
  • To serve the members of your club
  • To help to plan and then drive the success of your club throughout the year, and
  • To make your life easier as a club officer by using Toastmasters resources efficiently.

John Quincy Adams said: If your actions inspire others to dream more…learn more…and become more, then you are a leader.

I urge you…

Toastmasters International Values:  Respect • Integrity • Service • Excellence
Our Principles:  Lead By Example • Work / Play as a Team 

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