Club Officers

How to be an effective President

The success or failure of any club falls on the lap of the President of the club. In fact, it’s commonly seen that the quality of a club as a whole jumps when an energetic and proactive person is at the helm. Conversely, if the President is laid back, the club quality declines as well. The effects of a President are so pronounced that the same club’s quality can fluctuate wildly within a span of 12 months due to a change in the person at the helm.

How to be an effective President?
How to be an effective President?

So, as the President, how do you make sure that your term is an out and out success? The first suggestion is from the book Parenting 101. It says that kids don’t do as the parents tell them to do; they do as they see their parents actually doing. This is equally true in Toastmasters as well. (Or for that matter any organisation.) Take roles. Give speeches. If you don’t do so, the Executive Committee (EC) members won’t and if they don’t, the club members won’t. So, rather than telling EC members to be active, show them an active President.

In a well functioning EC team, all tasks of the club are divided among the EC members. The President may therefore feel there is no task left for him to do except perhaps supervise the EC members and boss around. That can be a big mistake. Remember, Toastmasters is a non profit organisation where you have volunteers for club officers, not employees. Bossing around is only going to backfire. The ideal thing to do would be to find one activity that you can do as a President so that other club officers see you doing equal parts in the running of the club. For example – in one of our previous blogs, we mentioned about a point system that clubs can install to motivate the club members to take roles. A President can take charge of the point system, updating it regularly on club WhatsApp group and rewarding members. This gives an impression that the President is also doing his/her share of tasks propelling other club members to put in efforts as well.

Since the office bearers are the ones actually doing the role, it’s evident that they have a better grasp of what their role entails and ways in which it could be done better. Simply giving directions without consulting them first is therefore not advisable. Yet, more often than not, this is what happens. A better way is to simply ask them first for their opinion and experiences. As the President, you can later add your observations, experiences and suggestions. This makes the officers feel heard and respected. He/she would be more likely to work on the way ahead.

In a team of seven, it’s not uncommon to see one of the members lacking in his or her duties and efforts. Reach out to them. See if they are facing a genuine problem or are over worked. Ask them if they need an associate. If nothing works, appoint a new club officer in their place.

As the President, you would be calling an EC meet form time to time to discuss various agendas. Make sure these meetings are not lengthy affairs that last for hours. Also while one meeting every month is acceptable, one meeting every week is not. Rather than calling an EC meet for every small issue, get on a conference call with two or three officers affected by the issue and sort it out at a micro level. Avoid engaging everyone unnecessarily.

A small follow up call after ten days with any club officer who has been assigned a task is a great way to ensure action. Ask them if they have any problems in initiating action or resources they may need in doing so. This one simple approach can go a long way in achieving club goals.

Lastly, remember – while you may be the President, you are not holding a whip. Be a team member and team leader in equal parts. Help in bringing about the change rather than ordering EC members to make it happen.


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