I often compare what is learnt as a club officer in Toastmasters to the skills needed to run a business. Here’s another area where the lesson applies to both Toastmasters and businesses.
While performing a club officer role, members learn the skills and acquire the knowledge to perform the role in the best way possible. Things may be shaky at first, but ideally they have the support of members who have performed that particular role before. By the end of their tenure in a role, they’ve usually developed confidence in what they’re doing and initiated some bright new ideas.
And then they need to move on; to a new role which is a little bit different. And so they grow.
Yes, you identify who has the potential to grow into a role. Not everybody is suited for every role. Part of becoming a leader though is being able to identify and mentor your replacement. You don’t stay and do it again, now that you know. A fellow Toastmaster once stayed on for a second term as area governor (as they were called in those days). He felt that he would do an awesome job now that he knew what he was doing. By mid-year, it seemed his passion and enthusiasm had waned. By the end of the term, he told me he felt he had made a mistake by repeating the role. While he may not have started with confidence the first time, he was constantly developing it, and acquiring knowledge and skill while doing the role. When he repeated the role, the challenge was no longer there and he became bored.
I’ve noticed this in business as well. If you hire someone who has absolutely all the skills you need and want, and who has done this job or better in the past, you run a huge risk that the person will become bored and lose interest. If you must hire an expert because of a pressing business need, hire someone on a short term contract to just get the job done and leave. If you need someone to take on the role permanently, hire someone who has to reach a little bit to grow, they’ll do it with enthusiasm and passion.
So the lesson I take away from all this is not to look for pre-made experts, regardless of the benefit you perceive they can bring to your club or company, whether you’re in Toastmasters or in business. Give someone the opportunity to grow and enjoy doing it. Let the ready-made experts look for their next challenge as well.