Every year the leadership changes within Toastmasters. It is a key component of why Toastmasters has become so successful. Everyone, no matter your age or experience level, has an opportunity to develop their leadership skills within Toastmasters.
So why is it that many clubs find it hard to recruit new leaders every year?
There are a few factors club leaders need to consider in developing a succession plan and the OCM model is worth exploring.
The OCM model (Opportunities – Capabilities – Motivation) looks at three factors that can impact whether a member chooses to take on a leadership role and more importantly whether they are successful or not:
- Opportunity – Toastmasters has embedded at their core, opportunities for members to take on leadership roles. Every year members get the chance to be elected to a club. Area, District or International position. But one factor often eludes us. Does the member have the support of the club? Now, on the surface clubs openly vocalise that they support members taking on leadership roles. But actions speak louder than words. Too often clubs challenge new leaders when mistakes are made, with some of these challenges being aired publicly. On the surface this may seem harmless but for someone considering taking on a leadership role, when they see this, they realise that it is not a safe environment in which to lead. It’s up to clubs to create a supportive environment so that opportunities are seen as a genuine place to learn and grow.
- Capability – Toastmasters has developed a series of different approaches to training and developing leadership capabilities. The challenge is that most of these occur once you are in a position. Sure, members are encouraged to attend the Club Officer Training which provides a high-level overview of what we need to do, not necessarily how to do it. Members need to feel they have the underpinning skills and knowledge to feel ready to take on a leadership role. Because of this clubs should also be investing in providing leadership training pertaining to the various roles throughout the year, not just before the elections.
- Motivation – This is often the biggest hurdle to overcome at club levels because of the decline in membership over the years. People tend to be strongly encouraged to take on a leadership position, or even pressured into the role. They are not motivated to do it but feel they have to because “it’s the right thing to do”. The problem with this is that when members are not motivated in the role, they easily burn out with many leaving half-way through their term. Worse still, some members leave Toastmasters altogether after being pressured into a leadership position. As leaders we need to explore with each member why they are at toastmasters and what they aim to gain from being a leader at the club. Explain to them what they will gain from their experience and how this will help them in the future, By showing them the value this has you will likely enhance their motivation to become a leader.
As we close off the first 6 months of the year, I would encourage club officers to explore how the OCM model may be impacting your ability to attract leaders for the new Toastmaster’s year. How can you help people get excited about the opportunities available to them and how will you start developing their skills and knowledge in this area? Look at whether the club is supporting the club officers and explore ways that this can be improved. It’s only when these things are in place that you will provide members with the solid platform to launch from and succeed.
Interesting Read – Identifying potential leaders during tough times