3 Lessons I Learned About Leadership at the Toastmasters District 47 Conference

Image by Mobile Portrait Pros

Image by Mobile Portrait Pros

He stood up before a room filled with over 200 of his Toastmasters peers. With confidence in his voice, he made his pitch to us, the leaders within the District. Elvis shared why we should vote for him as the new Division F Director. He only had two minutes to convince us to trust him with this important position to oversee over 400 people in Division F.

Image by Mobile Portrait Pros

Image by Mobile Portrait Pros

After Elvis’ well outlined speech, he sat down to listen to his opponent do the same. Once they were both done, the District Governor gave the go ahead for the leaders to cast their ballots. The ballot count took about 20 minutes to complete. During this time, the candidates sat nervously awaiting their fate. The election official came in and handed the results to the District Governor.

The winner was announced. Elvis had successful won over the confidence of his peers to entrust the role of Division F Director. A loud cheer went out across the audience. The emotion on his face said it all. This victory was a sweet one for him.

Image by Mobile Portrait Pros

Image by Mobile Portrait Pros

This was not Elvis’ first attempt in his pursuit for the Division leadership role. It was his third! His first attempt was a bruiser. He lost handily to his opponent. In my observation, Elvis was a young leader in his Toastmasters career. The group of leaders felt he had more to learn. Normally, a lot of folks would walk away dejected by this defeat.

Not Elvis, he came back the second year. Again he was defeated. I believe this time his speech was not a winning one. Elvis did not logically state his case: what did he learn in the previous year as a leader, or how he intend to help his Division grow. His opponent did and she won.

Instead of going to the corner and licking his wounds, Elvis did something that make leaders great. He went back to the drawing board. Here are some of the things that I learned from observing Elvis:

  1. Reflect: Elvis took time to reflect on what went wrong. He reflected on what actions he needed to take to demonstrate his commitment to the organization and to improve his leadership skills.
  2. Refresh: Elvis refreshed his attitude and volunteered to be one of the District’s Club Coaches. He went around the division assisting clubs that were struggling in membership growth or needed guidance in conducting successful meetings for their members.
  3. Resilience: Elvis did not give up. He knew he had it in him to be a leader over his Division. He did not quit when he experienced two losses. Instead he committed himself to prove to the District Leaders that he was deserving of their trust.

Some of the greatest leaders known have faced defeat in one form or another. Yet they did not give up. They reflected, refreshed and were resilient. Elvis’ journey to the Division F Director position reminded me of these three points. This was one of the most memorable leadership moment for me that I had to share it with you all.


Thank you for reading my post. Please hit the “follow” button at the top of the page to allow me to share more Purposeful thoughts, ideas and experiences with you. Feel free to leave a comment or share the article with others.


Marlene M. Bryan is a Distinguished Toastmaster, DTM. She is a certified speaker and leader by Toastmasters International. She is currently the District 47 Public Relations Officer, and leader of the Public Relations Team. She provides her services to over 3800 members throughout the district. Marlene is the owner of Marlene M. Bryan, Corp and Small Biz Evolution, LLC. She is a speaker, an author, and a coach. Pick up the latest copy of her book:

 Live a Diamond Life, A Life of Purpose: Diamond Cutters  

Live a Diamond Life, A Life of Purpose: Diamond Cutters

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