At Toastmasters, we take advantage of Pathways educational program to build our public speaking skills. I’m currently on the Dynamic Leadership pathway, level 4, project 1, “Manage Change.” This project focuses on how to plan for change, develop a communication plan, and identify obstacles to success. The purpose of this project is to practice developing a change management plan. The educational program calls for preparing a 5-7 minutes speech to share a change management plan for a real or hypothetical situation. Here’s my speech I delivered last week:
When I was younger, whenever change happened, I tried to control it, blame it, or ignore it. Toastmasters and dear guests, the last 10 years, I learned that this is not the way to go through my experiences in delegation, talent management, and succession plan implementation.
Control It All
In college, when I first started Enactus Club, which was a volunteering club to help the local community through a project-driven approach, I tried to do it all. I decided on the projects to do, recruited the people, promoted the club, organized the social events, and more. I even had a title, “Mama Yao.” Oh – I was a proud mama alright. We did well, won the regional championships and more. But after a year, I decided not to pursue the president role further because I was burnt-out. I had a hard time letting things go and needed things to be done a certain way.
When I saw “change”, I saw “control.” I had to control it all so I could ensure success, but that wasn’t sustainable.
Blame It All
At the beginning of the Enactus Cub chartering process, I asked our club sponsor, Todd, who was also a professor at UC Berkeley, to be part of the interview panel to ensure the competitiveness of the club. He happily accepted the role. But the day of, he had to cancel because of an unpredictable car accident with his son. I panicked and didn’t know what to do. I cancelled the interviews and felt defeated for a long time. I blamed my luck – why is this happening to me?!
When I saw “change”, I wanted to “control.” When I couldn’t control it, I felt dismay. I blamed things that somehow made sense in my mind.
Ignore It All
When I was in college, I had no idea about the importance of a succession plan even though I was passionate about the mission of Enactus as were many of the members. I never thought about a succession plan to ensure it can continue its legacy in a meaningful way for others to come. After college, I took off and never looked back. Even when one of the projects’ leaders reached out and asked if I wanted to help out afterwards, I didn’t see the importance of commitment and continuation of the mission we built – to create a better, more sustainable world.
When I saw “change,” I quit and ignored it. Why do I need to control it?
Did you see a difference? From wanting to control it all to control absolutely nothing?
Fast forward 10 years later, I grew and learned a lot more. Managing change isn’t about trying to control it, blame it, or ignore it. Managing change requires leadership skills to properly delegate tasks, emphasize with people, and execute on the vision.
Delegate & Believe
This year, I’m the president of a newly chartered club, Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters, which now reaches people from more than 50 countries. I learned from my mistakes and made a conscious effort to build a strong officer team who will be able to thrive on their own and then delegate tasks. There were some new officers who weren’t as social media savvy – yet – and needed to promote our work on social channels. Instead of doing it myself, I took time to build training materials so they can learn to fish, instead of being given the fish itself. Now all of the officers know how to use social channels more effectively to bring in new members.
These days, when I see “change,” I see “opportunity.” It’s an opportunity to build a new, stellar team and delegate important tasks. Change is a constant that I need to get used to.
Empathize & Train
Right after Women L.E.A.D chartered, two officers were unable to continue supporting the club due to new work commitments. Instead of panicking, I took a deep breath, acknowledging that life happens. I thanked them for their services thus far, being honest with me, assured them that this community would always welcome them back whenever they were in a better place, and politely asked if they could find the new replacements and train them before officially leaving. They did and thanked me for my understanding. Now we have our full term of officers like a well-oiled machine, executing towards the mission — to create a safe place to practice public speaking and leadership.
Now when I see “change”, I see “opportunity.” It’s an opportunity to empathize with people and train new talents. Change is a constant that I’m getting used to.
Prepare and Execute
The first officer term for Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters is coming to an end in 2-3 months. I already started thinking about a succession plan. I believe in the mission and want more people to benefit from it. Instead of last minute planning, I asked the officers to come with a documented succession plan next month and share whether they’d like to continue to stay on or prefer new ones to take on. If the latter, we’d ask the officers to look for potential replacements. The commitment is for the old officers to train the new ones, before the term is officially over. This ensures the mission lives on with a well-prepared new term of officers moving forward.
Now when I see “change,” I see “opportunity.” It’s an opportunity to sustain a mission. Change is a constant that I’m used to.
The last 10 years, I’ve learned through delegation, talent management, and succession plan development that it’s important to see the opportunity in change — instead of controlling, blaming, or avoiding it — embrace it.
Change is a constant.
See you all in our upcoming meetings where we talk about public speaking and leadership on Wednesdays. Next meeting’s theme: Choose to Challenge. Time: March 31st, 2021 7- 8:15 p.m. PDT. Register here.
-Written by Renee Yao, President of Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters