I thought a lot about it before sharing my plan with the six Area Directors and club mentors in July 2019. I wanted to visit all clubs, first existing 18 and thereafter every new club as they opened. Learning from the AD role I took up two years ago, I wanted to understand directly from the members their problems, challenges, and what ails in their journey to become a quality member of a quality club. 

Many questions snaked up my mind cluttering it with many thoughts. Would the ADs feel undermined that I am reaching out to their clubs directly? Would the members be alarmed that the Division Director is coming on an official visit? What if a member points out that the visit is not mandatory, so not required? Will the members attend in numbers? What if they realized I was not getting any credit either, so why bother? 

My conscience was clear. It was my choice. If I was to engineer a beautiful Toastmasters experience for members to spread the good word, attract more members, and expand the numbers of clubs, I had to embark on this journey and work with the members directly. I had to sense their pulse so that the members feel empowered, stay motivated, and provide helpful feedback to improve club experience. 

Area Directors were alerted and the Division Secretary Neha Amatya actively took upon herself to coordinate the meetings throughout the year. After visiting all 36 clubs in Nepal (some virtually during Covid-19 pandemic lockdown), I can say that it has been undeniably worthwhile. I received feedback and insights that I would otherwise be ignorant of. An important real-time leadership lesson learned – through one reads about it in books, the difference in practice is startling. 

There are numerous instances and understanding I have received from the visits. It is not possible to list them all. However, I shall highlight a few insights that can be useful for future leaders and members to consider. 

After listening to their stories, I instinctively changed the format of my 60-75 min interactions to address their genuine requirements. If I did a short session on crafting a speech in one, I switched to making a yearly club plan for another, and put new members at ease about table topics in a third. I realized every session became more dynamic responding to member needs rather than a structured one. 

1Baneshwor 4-Sep-20195
2Rato Bangla8-Sep-20194
3Kathmandu 9-Sep-20193
4Sanima Bank11-Sep-20194
6Bodhi 16-Sep-20191
18Laxmi 22-Oct-20195
22Nepal Womens13-Mar-20201
26Lead Box3-Jun-20203
28Nami 6-Jun-20201

At the end of every club visit, the members had thanked me for inspiring, motivating, and encouraging them with my talk and repartee to their questions. I am thankful to them for being at ease, trusting me, and providing candid, constructive, and open feedback that enriched each discussion. 

I enjoyed every visit and I am thankful to all the clubs for making me wiser, more reflective, and more ready to put on different pairs of lenses with every different group. I agree that as a General you are far removed from what is happening on the battlefield, and it is worthwhile to visit the frontlines yourself and feel their pulse once in a while. 

Suman Shakya, DTM
Division A Director

Published in Inkspire Issue 4. Click here for the full newsletter. 

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