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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Butter N Toast Lessons on Leadership and Teamwork

Butter N Toast is a Toastmasters Club running on it's fifth year. In the last four years, it received one Select Distinguished Club award and 3 President's Distinguished Club award, distinctions given to clubs that are able to hit their goals. The jury is still out on this term, but as a member I am completely confident that we are destined for another banner year.

A typical Toastmaster's club in the Philippines will have around 15 to 20 people in a meeting or less. On a good night, Butter N Toast can have as much as 40. The conversion of guests to members is also high. We attribute it to the quality of our meetings and the warmth and welcoming nature of the club members. At a time when some Toastmasters club struggle to keep members attending, what keeps Butter N Toast's meetings well attended and vibrant? The reasons, I believe are just about the same ones that keep employees engaged at work and performing well.

A Shared Goal
When we found the club, Michelle Lim, our Charter President kept harping on achieving club goals ,which as a new member, I cared very little about. I mean, who cares about a club goal when all I was interested in was my own goals. Michelle's ability to communicate the importance of the goal to the club and to its members helped me appreciate it more. When it was my time to lead, I didn't have any difficulty rallying the club towards it and succeeding to achieve it because by then, I was completely bought into the goals.

Lesson: the leader's ability to communicate and get members' buy-in on goals enhance their commitment to it.

Holding the other leaders and members to the same high standards you hold your self to.
On the second year of Butter N Toast, Sheila Dela Cruz took the helm as President. I was Vice President for Membership and future President Gege Sugue was VP for Education. It was the same year when we had our first taste of the President's Distinguished Club award. I remember it to be a tough year for Sheila because she was still adjusting in her new job. She, however was able to keep her presence felt not only on meetings but online. She made sure that the other leaders were doing their parts and members were on their way to achieving their individual goals. When members were being remiss, sheila would call, text or email to make sure that members know that they were being missed. the communication was open and members were made clearly aware of what was expected of them. Those who were unwilling to commit to the club's goals and culture left or was let go, those who like what was going on stayed up to this day.

Lesson: keeping communication clear and lines open enhances accountability. It also keeps the right people in and the wrong people out.

Make it happen
When it was my turn to be President, I had the fortune of inheriting a solid club brought about by two successful leaders before me.

My job was to enhance the already strong club culture. I did it by strengthening teamwork among leaders and continuing to strengthen the personal relationship among members through activities outside club meetings. When my term was done and we received our award, I can only attribute it to strong friendship and leadership teamwork.

Lesson: high performing leadership teamwork reflects on the whole organization. Friendship among team members create a desirable working environment.

Make the most of your organization
"Make the Most of Butter N Toast" was the mantra of the fourth president, Gege Sugue. She made clear to us that the club's success can only come through the members' individual success. She motivated the members to take their goals seriously and the officers to do whatever they can to help the members succeed. During Gege's term the club enhanced it's coaching and mentoring practices and increased it's membership two-folds due to positive meeting experience by guests who turned into members. New members were taken care of and given mentors to help them through their basic projects.

Lesson: create an environment that is conducive to success. If people know that they are in a desirable environment, they are most likely to pursue success.

What is common among the four past Presidents is their ability to be present. Half-way through her term, Michelle had to go to the US. She left management of the club to the officers. Mind you, I said she left the management of the club, but she didn't leave leadership. She continued to be present virtually to give directions, make decisions and step in whenever needed. This club continue to benefit from the presence of the past Presidents. Whenever we have elections, we don't really change leadership, we just add more.
Stay on top and keep it coming
This is the battle cry for this term with Pat Pascua at the Helm. To most of us this simply means keep the success flowing. Today's Butter N Toast Leaders are doing the best they can to make it happen. As a student of leadership, I can't wait to learn what lessons this year is going to teach us as an organization. I'll be sure to blog about it.

Click here to find out more about Butter N Toast, Toastmasters Club.
Click here to find out how we can help you strengthen leadership and teamwork for your organization.


  1. Well said, Ed! Bravo!
    I especially like what you said, "Whenever we have elections, we don't change leadership, we just add more." :)

    More power to BnT!

  2. Anonymous10:22 PM

    Kool.....very intresting post. Like to hear more soon. I like to share one more blog.


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