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Lessons From The Top
District 61, Chris Ford, DTM, #8 in the World
We had a clear understanding of where we stood at
all times. As a Top 3, we knew not just where we were ranked, we knew
our strengths and weaknesses. We can all see this now on the web,
but how many District Officers take the time to do it and understand
it? Most of the District Officers should be able to see how their
Area and Division is going.
Selection and maintenance of the aim are paramount. Goal setting at
the start of the year and maintaining the focus on the Critical Success
Factors are paramount. Be clear in your mind, focus, and exclude the
distractions. It was Operation Excellence. We knew what we wanted
to do. Anything else is time and energy.
We paid meticulous attention to detail in the final stages of the
We used concentration of effort and economy of force. We tracked by
club where the per caps were coming from. We made calls to the clubs
week to week.
Be clear. Focus on what Area Governors can change. We've been a President's
20+ District many years in a row. We didn't take a passive approach.
We directed guests to those (under 20) clubs with our District phone
line. There was a time when it looked doubtful, but I refused to accept
that. Keep it to yourself or share it with a PDG.
Maintain a positive winning attitude throughout of "we can do
it, we have the talent."
District 23, Donna LaBatt, DTM, #9 in the World
Communicate! We held conference calls between Executive
A tele-conference account number was obtained from the phone company
and the agenda was sent out in advance. Use email and personal calls.
Involve people in the decision making process. Ask for their feelings
and opinions. Provide explanations for decisions. Decisions should
not be a fait accompli.
Be keen on delegation. Tell the team up front here are the requirements
but let them do their job. Approach it as "this is fun and easy
Visit a lot of clubs. I was able to do this as a retired military
Talk about what's happening in the District during visits.
Give individuals recognition during visits and via the District newsletter.
District 23 has a geographic challenge with 400 miles between clubs.
Remote areas appreciated meeting the District Governor.
Walk the walk and talk the talk: give manual speeches.
District 73, Dick Briggs, DTM, #10 in the World
What made the difference was what we were taught
in training, knowing where you are,
being in control of the figures, and being able to interpret the figures
and the reports.
Concentrate on teamwork. We returned (after not being distinguished).
Stan Stills said, "It was the greatest return since Lazarus!"
District 37, Carl Campbell Jr. DTM, #11 in the World
Our District theme was Quest for Excellence through
Teamwork. We were Distinguished the year before but hadn't been for
several years. Our District was willing to take a hit on the numbers
to build a better team for the future. My little part was to inspire
everyone else to do their little part. That's what I brought to the
table. It was not just the Top 3 that did their job, collectively
we can do anything. In Toastmasters we fail sometimes as speakers.
It's okay to fail as a leader as long as we learn to change course
and get better.
It's okay to make mistakes and my team knew that. All the decisions
you make are during your year. Hand it over, don't become involved
unless requested. Let the new Governor drive the chariot!
District 12, Michael John Bayne, DTM, #12 in the World
Never giving up! Always bring people back to focus
on the goals. It's a lot of communication and focus. Know who you
can count on and who you can't count on during crunch time. Use an
email tree to reach Presidents, VPEs, Division Governors, and Area
Governors. Let Area Governors know they are so important and they
should have the pulse. Without snooping, know what's going on in each
Area or Division. Know where to put your resources. When you really
have a problem, hold a face to face meeting. The buck stops with you,
set a good example. Always share success. Don't take forever to recognize
somebody. Dress to set a professional tone. People are looking up
to you. People are looking at how you are reacting. Even if you can't
get to International, get to know WHQ's support staff. Don't talk
down to people. Don't talk down to the World Headquarters staff who
help you. The incoming Top 3 should be going to the International
Top 3 Track workshops.
Distinguished Districts 1998-99
District 1, Phil Taylor, DTM, #13 in the World
Have a strong rapport with other members of the
If they see a Top 3 pulling together, it will motivate them.
Teamwork and determination are essential. Give deference to what matters.
Have a good plan to start and get the right people.
District 47, Timothy Pesut, DTM, #14 in the World
I preached Distinguished District all the time with
the theme "Being the Best."
I preached to the Top 2 and Division Governors to be the best at what
they are best at. The Top 3 have to work as a team and put their personal
agendas aside. PDGs guided but didn't interfere. I used them as advisors
and invited them to Executive Committee meetings.
We set up club rescue teams for clubs with less than 12 members. This
freed up our resources for clubs with 14-16 members. The criteria
for club rescue was the club officers had to agree to meet and map
out what they were willing to do. If they were not willing to meet,
let it go. Six weeks before dues were due, "7 Habits of Highly
Successful Per Caps" was sent out.
We listed unpaid clubs and paid clubs by club name on our web site.
Our web site asked, "Are you unpaid and unable to compete in
the next contest?" We awarded Area and Division Governors with
educational materials. District 47 has 246 clubs, 42 Areas and 10
The biggest challenge was to encourage members to do their best and
be distinguished themselves. I didn't mention the District but we
really wanted Distinguished Clubs. Many clubs have no idea where there
members are with their speeches, so we used the
8 ½ by 11 tracking chart.
With non-manual speeches, we didn't get upset, counsel the member,
or make a federal case, because we found that didn't work. We said
we won't force you, but we asked the member which manual assignment
could this fit into? We told them this is what you are going to be
evaluated on. The club benefits, the member was not harassed, and
the Evaluator had something to evaluate.
Focus it on individuals. Use mail and the district web site. Email
tips or ideas to District Officers. Each Area and Division Governor
was strongly encouraged to submit a CTM and went back to their club
VPE to find out where they were and encourage them.
People want to belong to something successful.
District 21, Sheila Hayes, DTM, #15 in the World
Remain totally focused on the 4 Critical Success
Make sure the team knows what is going on, via email.
Information needs to go to those who need it, like the Division and
Send out congratulatory commentary on the successes of that month.
For example let the team know "these Area Governors have 80%
of their visits done."
Do it in writing and take advantage of the internet. Communicating
was acceptable to the team. Our "District Link" Newsletter
was mailed 3 times per year to every member and was also posted on
our web page. We posted an awards and recognition section on our web
page. Getting back to recognition was so important.
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Lessons from the Top Compiled by Pam Keyzer, DTM