Sunday, March 1, 2020

Leadership level speech - Toastmasters International.

As I reach to the last speech of level 2 of my Innovative Planning Learning pathway at Toastmasters Intl, here’s a sample speech of the third part of level 2 for those who need to understand the structure and content.

Duration: 06 min. 15 secs.

This level requires me to discuss about my leadership style and/or the leadership style of my favorite leader.

First, a few aspects of my leadership style - as a leader my experience has been limited.  I led a few college projects that I hardly remember; I was the class monitor of 8th A and yes the Whatsapp Admin of a nerdy joint family. Ah! I anchored two big live shows; that was tough! But that’s about it.

When I got married and became a mother I realized I have to lead a family. I have to lead my kids through learning, in forming relationships, inculcating good habits and living a healthy happy life. And honestly, in this context I can feel the heat of being a leader.

When they say ‘Some Leaders are Born Women’, they can’t be more virtuous! Some leaders are born women. Men can challenge themselves to become a leader, but you cannot take a leader out of a woman. It’s inherent to her. She has to and she must step forward, her true self as a leader at some point of time. She isn’t only a mother, she’s a teacher, a caretaker, the backbone of the family, a juggler of work and home– I am a woman and a leader. I think I better say – I am a leader who is born woman.

And did I say juggler of work and life?


Balance is the fundamental of all things fighting gravity. Woman, the leader trudges every step with care or she might fall this side or that side. That would be a big fall according to her as she stands up high on the pedestal of her own benchmarks, in spite of being accused of missing out - on work if she’s a homemaker or on family if she’s a working woman – on the pedestal of a patriarchal society.

I am a proud juggler. I am a leader who is born woman.

A woman wants to make Hercules out of her children and also Einstein and for that she knows she has to be a meticulous planner. She has to make optimum utilization of resources – her limited energy, notwithstanding that she’s a super-woman without a cape.

 I plan the activities that I’ll do with my kids, the meals of the week, the creative activities, and the books to read.  I plan my lectures I have to take up with my students. I am a strategic planner. I am a leader who is born woman.

Coming to my favourite leader, my pick today is Michelle Obama.

Michelle writes in her bestselling book ‘Becoming’ about a lesson her mom taught when she was in first grade. A boy once punched her in the face. Her mom spoke to that boy and then told her daughter - “Michelle, the guy was angry and fearful but it had nothing to do with you.” This lesson came handy to Michelle when she was campaigning for her husband.

So lesson 3 of leadership –

Not letting another person’s actions change or influence you. Because most of the time It is not about you.

Lesson 4 –

Build a community.

She says it is important for a leader to have a community. Here the community means a) a network of mentors that you build throughout your work life and b) the people who support you unconditionally – they can be anyone from your friends or family. They help you navigate the many bumps in your journey.

Now a few leadership lessons I learnt from my grandmom, my Dadi. My father has a humble background. His family was financially deprived and many times he studied his school lessons under the light of a lamppost.

Today he is at the topmost level of his field. Like him the rest of his 7 siblings (yes my grandmom had 8 children), too are all well-settled in their respective lives. Who made this possible? It was the leader amongst them - their mother, my dadi.

She was a true leader who nurtured not only the lives of 9 other individuals including her husband through frugal means but also never forgot to take care of herself!

At sharp 4 am each day, dadi lit up the bulb of our room to get ready for her unbreakable morning routine, doing ‘jaap’ with her rosary. She would have already taken a bath by that time with ice cold water even in extreme winters. And the best part was she didn’t know how to read a clock and yet every step of her routine fell into perfect time slots unfailingly, each day!

She filled her plate with salads and loved tomatoes. Her molars were intact at the age of 99 - the grinding teeth!

And if she hadn’t slipped in the bathroom that fateful evening she would have lived to be a 100!

So lesson 5 –

A leader takes care of her physical and mental health.

My dadi was uneducated but her death was a celebration of her life as a leader beholding the wisdom of having a great physical and mental health.

So let’s end it on a note to compliment the father of a daughter. For he is a blessed man who has an intense caregiver by his side, he has by his side the womb of the universe that would nurture a life beyond. I am a mother of two amazing souls whom I willingly commit to care for. I am a nurturer, a guide. I am a leader who is born woman.