Around September of 2019, The Association of Chartered Accountants of Nepal under the strong leadership of President TM Ananda Raj Sharma Wagle came up with the idea of chartering ACAN Toastmasters club and had their first meeting accompanied and coordinated by fellow Toastmasters from Nepal Toastmasters Forum. Noticing the platform coming to my side of the profession, I was ecstatic though I regretted not attending the first unofficial meeting before chartering the club. A few years back, I had heard from a friend about Toastmasters being a speaking club but I didn’t do further research on that.
Being in the profession for almost a decade now, life at this juncture needed some positive encouragement. I have been speaking as a part-time teacher to young students, and as a trainer and employee in various meetings and seminars. I decided to join Toastmasters and showed the intention of contributing to it in the way I had always envisioned. I requested TM Ananda to join the Ex-com of the Chartered club. I was assigned the role of VPE.
The Vice-President Education is equipped with the privileges of glowing roles of educating the members, assessing how well the trajectory of members is, and making timely interventions whenever required to ensure non-derailment of the journey. Having no prior experience, the role of VPE was invigorating given it envisioned leadership and practiced influence. My reluctance had to go and I had to come out of my comfort zone.
When the pandemic happened, it was again challenging to push members out of the comfort of in-person meetings to virtual ones. Our club has had around 28 meetings, out of which almost 10 meetings have been held during lockdown. Today, even the Toastmasters who had given only the Ice-breaker Speech are nearing the completion of Level 1. The best feeling of approving the first official transcript of level completion is something to cherish as a VPE since you can see the visible results of your constant push that moved your members forward.
As a VPE, coordinating everything right from the discussions to scheduling speeches of members needs thoughtful deliberation. The leadership exercise comes in the form of persuading inactive members to come for speeches, asking the members to make necessary amendments in their write-ups if they happen to comfortably share the speech with us when mentors are in the process of being assigned, making constant communications and convincing members to take roles, providing alternate club platforms if the speech or evaluation sessions are jam-packed, jumping into an anonymous world of Nepal Toastmasters Forum where you make requests on public or individual basis calling for evaluators, and taking impromptu roles in any unforeseen situations. All of these demand a comprehensive exercise of influence; this portrays what leadership challenge is all about in Toastmasters.
Joining Toastmasters has been a blessing in disguise for me since I have realized through myself and others that leadership is not just about leading with orders, rather it is about leading with care, empathy, and a passion to lead your members. It is all about diverting your personal drive to a group of beneficiaries and towards their successful journeys. Having said that, if I happen to lead ACAN Toastmasters Club one day, I will aim for it not because there is a requirement of a leader under a protocol but because real leadership trait is reflected in my efforts.
Surendra Bahadur KC, VPE, ACAN Toastmasters