That’s Not Leadership — it’s Salesmanship

Military 599

Let’s not abuse the term

From an Oct 27 Founders District letter to Division/Area officers:

Opportunity to Exercise your Leadership Skills and Call to Action! . . .

Very important, to contact your local businesses and organizations. 

To contact businesses and ask for gifts and donations, please see attached donation request letter (you may personalize it before sending).  

If the “Call to Action” had invited us to exercise our salesmanship skills . . . But it didn’t. We have to wonder what definition of “Leadership” is being used.

If leadership is truly “the ability to inspire supporters’ enthusiastic and effective efforts to accomplish goals,” then in the letter “leadership” is being used as a buzzword.

Soliciting businesses to donate prizes involves sales, not leadership skills. Further, selling business owners on donating to Toastmasters is unrelated to building a great club through the exercise of leadership principles.

The first step in leading involves defining the goal. Then, a well-considered plan is presented with assignments to each follower that will help the unit reach their goal.

The goal for the “call to action” isn’t related to any club; it’s a staffer’s desire “to make my numbers.” So, we are being asked – almost ordered – to help the writer raise cash for a District function. A laudable goal perhaps, but not necessarily our goal as a club. TI isn’t organized to pass orders from the top down, like military, police and some government units. These organizations are organized to deal with crises that need prompt, emergent action.

But Toastmasters is focused on helping individual members grow and on helping clubs help their members learn and improve. Leadership is certainly required. However, we emphasize “Servant Leadership.”

Calling on Club and Division officers to exercise their leadership skills in order that the “numbers look good” is, in our opinion, ill-considered. The very real need for leadership in Toastmasters Clubs is demeaned by abusing the term. We might be more willing to solicit prizes if we were asked to help — or challenged to sell. Toastmasters deserves better.

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