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"For what we've discovered, and found, is that leadership isn't the personal reserve of a few charismatic men and women. It's a process ordinary people use when they're bringing out the best from themselves and others. Liberate the leader in everyone, and extraordinary things happen."

-- James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations

Some individuals in "management roles" are excellent leaders. On the other hand, many people who have no formal management function are outstanding leaders. In today's rapidly changing world, we all need to be leaders.

To lead is to show the way by going ahead. To lead is to guide or direct a course of action. To lead is to influence the behavior or opinion of others. We all need to be leaders, regardless of our official title or role. This starts with inner self-leadership and moves outward to influence, guide, support, and lead others. The process of becoming a leader is the same as the process of becoming a highly effective human being. Leadership development is personal development. Leadership ultimately manifests itself in what we do "out there." It starts "in here."

It would be easy if we could all become leaders by following a simple set of steps. However, the journey of personal development means finding our own path. There are, nevertheless, essential areas of personal development based on timeless principles. The distance we need to grow along each leadership dimension will differ for each of us, but defining and continually growing along each of these paths is the way of the leader.

A Leader drawing a Chart

Strong leaders are well-rounded and constantly expanding their personal leadership across these key areas:

Choose Not to Lose.
Whether we choose to focus on our problems or our possibilities is a critical leadership issue. When faced with obstacles and failure, those who can overcome adversity and learn from their experiences, turning them into opportunities, are the ones who will be truly successful.

Focus and Context.
THE CORE OF MY BEING: This is central to our growth along all other dimensions. Our Focus and Context are shaped by three essential questions: Where am I going? (my vision); What do I believe in? (my values and principles); and Why do I exist? (my purpose or mission).

IF IT'S TO BE, IT'S UP TO ME: Leadership means taking responsibility for our choices in life. Leaders recognize that life accumulates, and that choice more than chance determines their circumstances.
GETTING REAL: Leadership isn't just what we do, it's something that we are, which then drives what we do. Authentic leadership comes from within.

Passion and Commitment.
BEYOND NEAR-LIFE EXPERIENCES: Successful people are energized by a love for what they do because it brings them ever closer to who they are. They overcome lethargy and cynicism, develop a burning commitment to their cause, and with discipline achieve their dreams and desires.

Spirit and Meaning.
WITH ALL MY HEART AND SOUL: What is the purpose of our work? Of our lives? Material success alone is not enough. Leaders seek within—and discover something more. In what is all too often a mad dash from cradle to grave, we need to take time—in work and life—to nurture our inner selves.

Evolving and growing.
FROM PHASE OF LIFE TO WAY OF LIFE: The conventional goals of stability, security, and predictability are lethal.

Energizing and mobilizing
PUTTING EMOTIONS IN MOTION Leaders don't motivate with punishments and rewards. Highly effective leaders boost the energy of others with their passion and appreciation.

Toastmasters and Leadership

Toastmasters can significantly contribute to your journey towards becoming a better leader. By offering a supportive environment, Toastmasters encourages the development of effective communication and leadership skills. Engaging in Toastmasters activities can help you refine your inner self-leadership, strengthen your decision-making abilities, and foster genuine connections with others. As you grow within the Toastmasters community, you will experience the benefits of cultivating a well-rounded and dynamic leadership style, enabling you to make a greater impact in both your personal and professional life.

Big "D" Toastmasters in Dallas, Texas, is always welcoming of guests to visit our club and see what Toastmasters is all about. We may be the club for you, we may not. You won't know until you visit us.

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