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August 31, 2013
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Regie Ford: Report from Toastmasters International Convention
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Regie Ford, fresh from his travels to Ohio, regaled us with a report on some key ideas presented at the 2013 Toastmasters International Convention.

It is important to realize that Toastmaster members, like people joining any organization, may progress through four key levels.  The danger is that  as competence grows, engagement and enthusiasm sometimes wane.  Consider the following list:

Level 1:  Low competence/high commitment.  Example:  Follower is new to the task, unsure of how to do it, but excited about the challenge

Level 2:  Low or some competence/low commitment.  Example:  Follower has begun a task but lost some motivation.

Level 3:  Moderate or high competence/variable commitment.  Example:  Follower has some skill to complete a task but is uncertain about doing it alone.

Level 4:  High competence/high commitment,  Example:  Follower has the skill to complete a task and the motivation to do it.

It is important that when we are helping new members develop their goals and decide on their involvement in our organization, we help them to see past the first, obvious goals.  We need to provide input and ideas, support and coaching that help them to grow in competence and to connect to motivation at every stage of their involvement.

As we develop our own leadership styles, we need to consider the types of leadership styles and select the elements from each that are appropriate to the situation.

Directing:  High directive and low supportive behavior.  Example: Leader gives the followers specific instructions about goal achievement and supervises carefully.

Coaching: High directive and high supportive behavior.  Example: Leader encourages the followers and seeks their input.

Supporting:  Low directive and high supportive behavior.  Example: Followers are responsible for day-to-day decisions.  Leader is available for support as needed.

Delegating:  Low directive and low supportive behavior.  Leader allows followers to take responsibility with minimal or no supervision.

In our small group exercise, we discussed test cases and determined the leadership style being described and the style that would have been more effective.  It was interesting that the participants were not completely in agreement.  Determining the appropriate leadership response to a situation and a person is more important that identifying the proper label for that leadership style.  However, the exercise of examining leadership decisions through the lens of this list was very enlightening.

Regie concluded by reminding us that the convention is another example of the high quality, effective training to which we have access as toastmasters.  He strongly urged us to attend future events.  The world travels to attend and hearing from leaders from around the globe lent him perspective about our work here at home.

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