A horse came galloping down the road. It seemed as though the man on the horse had somewhere important to go. Another man who was standing on the road shouted, “Where are you going?” The man on the horse replied, “I don’t know! Ask the horse!”

What sets apart a leader from “the rest” is vision. We often talk about what we would do if only we had known. We never know. Because leaders are entrusted with responsibilities, they have to plan for all contingencies. Things not going as planned should be anomalies rather than the accepted norm. It is not about ironing out minute details of distant negative possibilities to justify that the leader has planned, but about creating a mindset of resilience and resolve within the team.

COVID-19 pandemic has invited a fresh perspective and created an unprecedented global situation. Lives and livelihoods have been lost; wealth has diminished. These are times that test leadership in countries, corporations, and communities. New Zealand has defeated the virus even as most world economies are reeling and scampering. As more companies are filing for bankruptcy, Ferrari headquartered in Maranello, Italy showed preparedness, and developed a “Back on Track” plan way ahead of authorities and many companies. This allowed the company to ensure the safety of employees and led them to be ready in adapting to the pandemic before most companies did.

In my last year as Area A5 Director, the one thing I have learned well is to plan. The Division Director had set high benchmarks and our team was very much willing to replicate the best practices in ‘how’ our Area functioned. An example was Citation 2019 that Area A5 co-hosted. Citation was scheduled for December but we had begun planning in August. Our Area contests were scheduled-and-planned well in advance. We were the first Area in District 41 to have chartered three new clubs and also the first in becoming Distinguished Area (we would go on to become President’s Distinguished) because we had rigorously planned and communicated with our teams and clubs. Planning, I have learned, helps in ensuring the clarity of objectives and responsibilities. After learning to become a planner, I feel I have become a better leader. ‘Learning to plan’ is one of many leadership skills that we learn at Toastmasters.

The crises and conflicts that we have faced this year show the world needs leaders more than ever. Leadership is not learned through books but is practiced. The fundamentals of leadership work in the same way in larger organizations as they do in smaller ones. Toastmasters Clubs allow many opportunities for exercising and experimenting with leadership. Leaders at club practice mentorship, delegate roles, create succession plans, work in teams, and learn to communicate effectively. Leaders in bigger organizations do the same, on a larger scale. Leaders at Toastmasters clubs create a vision and lead members towards achieving common goals.

The journey at Toastmasters begins with a single speech. Giving speeches at Toastmasters may not be an easy feat for many. However, as they say, it is the difficult horse that has the most to give you, at Toastmasters, amazing possibilities await.

Avish Acharya, Area A5 Director 

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

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