Posted December 14, 2023
Leadership Matters

By Sheryle H. Warren, DTM, PDDD | December 2023

Diane, a two-time District Director (DD), showed up to mid-year training with her Dynamic Duo, her Program Quality Director (PQD), and her Club Growth Director (CGD) in tow.  Diane and her team took their Mid-Year prework assignments seriously, completing every single one before mid-year training.  Because they had everything under control, the three of them sat at their table laughing and talking about the previous night’s outing of shopping, eating, and souvenirs.  The Mid-year trainers approached the trio with a look of disdain.  One of the trainers asked Diane why her Trio was not working on their assignment.  The CGD laughed out loud and said, “Yawl must not know our District Director.  She led us through discussions months in advance to complete our District Success Plan.  “The trainer, pleasantly surprised, responded, “Do you mind helping another trio with their work?”   

Diane said sure and led her team to another District’s table.  Unfortunately, they were not far enough along to help.  Diane was kind but direct and explained the processes that they had gone through.  They needed to discuss their visions and values before they could move on to the next steps.  Darren, the second trio DD, looked at Diane, both in respect and disbelief.  At the first break, he and five other DDs went to Diane asking her how she was able to complete all the trio’s prework so quickly.  They all wanted to learn the secret of her District’s success since Diane’s District was already Distinguished.   She simply said, “I read somewhere “Do not serve from an empty cup, fill your own cup first, then serve from the overflow.”  

This was Dianes’ second time to be District Director.  During her first year, as DD, she remembered how on July 1st her phone rang constantly and emails flowed like white water rapids.   Being eager to serve each member, Diane’s philosophy was hand-shake leadership.  When members called about the Toastmaster’s education program, she should have pointed them to the PQD.  When they called about getting a coach for 20 clubs, she should have pointed them to the CGD.  When one member called and wanted the District Contest to be moved from the morning to the afternoon, she obliged.  To make matters worse, a month later, the same member wanted the contest to be changed back to the morning!  The first time around, she tried to be everything to everyone and wound up drained and empty. 

Don Miguel Ruiz said “Every day, we awake with a certain amount of mental emotional, and physical energy that we spend throughout the day.  If we allow our emotions to deplete our energy, we have no energy to change our lives or to give to others.” 

Diane realized It is the District Director’s responsibility to serve the Dynamic Duo, the Division Directors, and the rest of the cabinet.  In turn, their jobs are to serve specific groups and then all members.  She learned, you cannot be the world to everyone, but you can be the world to someone.  This time around, Diane focused on those who reported directly to her and empowered them to serve those assigned to them.  She had one-on-one meetings and group meetings.  Her handshake philosophy was still applicable, but now it was more of a heart-shake philosophy.  She empowered each leader to do their job by giving them all the necessary resources and authority to make decisions.  This approach enabled all of the directors the ability to serve the mission first and members always.  Success! 



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