Toastmasters International Pathways Program
Dynamic Leader Pathway
Good Morning, fellow Toastmasters and guests!
After attaining Nirvana, the Buddha, founder of Buddhism, remained in the same location for the next few weeks contemplating the Truth that he had discovered. He did this before walking out into the world to disclose his newfound knowledge.
So, what does this have to do with the Dynamic Leadership Pathway I just completed?
The lesson is that it highlights the necessity of reflecting upon what we have recently acquired.
Introspection is Important. Introspection is not [ever] about dwelling in the past. It is the pause for all of us to reflect where we have been and what we have learned. It is in this reflection that we will find our authentic selves so we may forge our path forward, perceptively.
I started on Pathways as soon as I completed the Advanced Communicator Gold series in the Legacy Program. By this time I had given at least 40 speeches, therefore naturally there is a sense of confidence speaking in public and the ability to write on a given topic. While all-encompassing, the Legacy program did not reflect who I am, what my strengths are, or possible traits that I needed to improve.
Level 1 starts with project 1, the Ice Breaker speech. A big deal for the newcomer, but to me, it was nothing to write home about. Level 1, project 2 required two speeches and an evaluation. I found the evaluation piece surprising because even for a seasoned Toastmaster, giving an evaluation can be nerve-racking. In the Legacy program, you can keep giving speeches without giving a single evaluation. For the brand-new member, just beginning to learn how to articulate speeches, suddenly thrust into this role. The beginner is expected to hear someone’s speech and then interpret the core of the matter back to the audience. It is an intimidating experience.
Fellow Toastmasters, it is the other Ice-breaker in the Pathways program! it is a bold step to invite the new Toastmaster to break out of their shell and encourage them to think inquisitively, rather than becoming a habitual preacher of what’s on the mind. It is a pro-Toastmaster step in the Pathways program.
There are two projects in Level 2.
1. Understanding Your Leadership Style
I went through all of the material, of course, with the full intention of writing the speech. This is where things began to get complex for me. It listed 8 leadership styles; Coaching, Democratic, Pacesetting, Innovative, Authoritative, Bureaucratic, Affiliative, and Altruistic. I realized that there are attributes that are related to me in each style. I was puzzled in my attempt to put a leadership label on myself. I began to think about my experiences, and my wheels began to turn in a different direction. If I tried to align my leadership style with my values and beliefs, perhaps it will be easier for me to identify my leadership style.
Aha, the introspection! This moment, it dawned on me, is the miracle of the Pathways. It is no longer about writing a narrative and presenting it.
In Pathways, it wants you to first understand the material, then discover how the material is relevant to you. It forces you to dig deeper. Level 2, project 1 helped me to discover my leadership style.
2. Understanding Your Communication Style
This project is not just about an individual’s communication style, but about everyone’s communication style. Do you remember the line from the original Rush Hour when Chris Tucker screams at Jackie Chan, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?” We all find the humor in it, but the reality is how many times have we told ourselves, “Oh man, I don’t understand what he is saying.” This is not about the language. This is not about even the accents. You all have different accents, but I still get you. The truth is, if we are unable to match another communication style, then we will have comprehension problems and issues of getting our messages across. The material in this project will help to educate us to overcome the deficiencies in our communication.
Did I mention it is the miracle of Pathways?
In Level 3 the main project is Negotiate the Best Outcome.
Think about the relevance of leadership and communication in Negotiations. Communication and leadership are the foundation for great negotiations. Level 2 naturally flows into Level 3. Pathways is a progressive educational program.
There is an elective in the level. I chose Active Listening because I wanted to sharpen my evaluation skills. I used to have apathy towards evaluations. It was the fear that held me back. Since Pathways, the dislike has turned into a strong appreciation.
Level 4 Managing Change.
To manage change, this chapter taught me to establish a set of principles and a set of supporting behaviors. It will be my framework, my footing, to handle things in the time of change, or the uncertainties mitigate adversities and amplify advantages.
If you think about it, that’s how to handle anything every day. How brilliant is that?
Another wonder happened at this level. My wife has been encouraging me for a long time to write a blog. There was an elective for that! Finally, I chose to write a Compelling Blog. ManujaSpeaks.com is a work in progress. My speeches, book recommendations, Q&As, are all in there.
Please check it out!
Level 5. Lead in Any Situation.
This is the final piece that completes the who-you-are as a Dynamic Leader puzzle. It is a summation of everything I have learned so far.
When Level 2 led me to deliberate on my beliefs and values, I realized my leadership style is 3-dimensional. That is how I Lead in Any Situation. I gave the three sides 3 names.
Five guys burgers.
Cast down your bucket where you are.
The Street Sweeper.
In 2002, Rick Miles of Rigby Idaho became the exclusive Potatoes supplier for Five Guys. Jerry Murrell, the CEO of Five Guys was very impressed with the quality of the spud, he went to meet Rick in Idaho. They met in an open-air food court. They discussed quality. The quantity. And then the terms. With a simple handshake, Jerry committed to buying the potatoes from Rick. Just on that handshake, Rick Miles committed to selling the best quality potatoes to Five Guys.
That was 17 years ago and the handshake agreement continues.
Leadership starts with and is founded on trust & commitment. Trust is the greatest character of Leadership.
Mr. Booker T. Washington, one of the greatest educators in the history of the United States, gave a speech in Atlanta, in 1895.
A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal: “Water, water. We die of thirst.” The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” A second time, the signal was resent, “Water, water. We die of thirst.” For the 3rd and 4th time, the answer was the same. The captain of the distressed vessel finally cast down his bucket and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water. The broken ship had drifted from the sea to the Amazon River. Resources are all around us. A mindful leader avails of those opportunities.
In 1967 Dr. King gave a speech. If a man called upon to be a street sweeper, he should sweep those streets well. He should sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; like Beethoven composed music; like Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.
Whatever you do, do it well. Do it extremely well!
Something else happened in Pathways journey. I began to read books related to each subject with the full intention of expanding my knowledge. What a fantastic by-product!
Pathways helped me discover, who am I as a leader and the way I lead. Pathways is an action plan within the frame of a speaker. Understanding who you are goes in hand in hand with the stories that you tell.
You can’t be an authentic leader or speaker, without understanding your authentic self.
To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.