Less Second Guessing More Empowering

“Don’t second-guess the team. If you’ve empowered them and given them the opportunity to make decisions and you’re always second-guessing them, they’re gonna stop making decisions…”

This is what the 2020-2021 Toastmasters International President, Richard E.Peck, said during his keynote speech at the 2021-2022 District Officer Installation Ceremony on Facebook Live. I immediately jotted it down on the Notes app on my phone, and reflected on the phrase.

When I became a Toastmasters club officer, I had very little confidence in my leadership abilities. I had completed a questionnaire from the “Understanding Your Leadership Style” project under Pathways, and two of my top three results were: Bureaucratic and Autocratic. While these leadership styles can work well in certain situations, too much of them isn’t a good thing. In my younger days, I had a tendency to over-control things, a tendency to second-guess my mates in school due to my lack of trust in their diligence and decision-making abilities. Growing up, I realised that I no longer wanted my over-controlling self to be reflected in my leadership.

Our club has a practice where the club officers will take turns to lead-organise an event. When I was blessed with the opportunity to lead my club executive committee last term, I continued the practice. During the term, I assigned one to three club officers to be the “event leaders” of different programmes. Each event leader was in charge of tasks that included pitching the event, planning it, and finding role players. I wanted them to have the leadership experience, and feel empowered as leaders and decision-makers, just like how previous club officers had empowered me. The results spoke for themselves. My team proved their capabilities beyond expectations and I couldn’t be prouder of their transformations. Throughout the term, the best ideas and decisions came from my team members. I learned to trust the process and to trust my team, and I learned a lot from them.

Dear readers, I reflect on Richard’s words and wholeheartedly agree. As leaders, at times we need to be in the passenger seat instead of the driver’s seat. Let your team members shine, and they will amaze you in many ways!