Core values are a small set of timeless guiding principles that are essential to an organization. Toastmasters International’s values are: Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence. The entire Toastmasters program depends on the integrity of each member; that is why it is our first core value.
For example, 28,357 Competent Communicator certificates were awarded during the 2014–2015 program year. Does the organization know with certainty that these speeches were given? No. We believe the member gave the speech based on each club vice president education’s certification.
The vast majority of members hold fast to our values, but occasionally a few members will trade their integrity for something else. They are willing to not follow the rules due to peer pressure or an overpowering desire for recognition of an achievement.
Each of us has to make a decision at some point: Do I keep my integrity or allow it to breach and go in the other direction? Almost all the time we follow the right path, but occasionally we follow the wrong path.
If you witness something that’s not OK, you’re obligated to speak up. If you don’t do anything about it, then by default you approve of the bad behavior. A common mistake for new leaders is to not have the courage to stand up for their values. I urge everyone to not only maintain their personal integrity, but to realize as a leader that you’re responsible for supporting the integrity of everyone in the group and for calling out lapses.
Also, support people who make the right decisions, even when the consequences might be perceived as failure. It’s better to fail and maintain your integrity than to succeed and lose your integrity.
I invite you to think about situations in which you will exercise our four values. Where might you have a challenge in holding each one? By identifying these situations in advance, you can develop a strategy. Also, ask your fellow leaders to hold you accountable. If they see you struggling, they can support you to do the right thing.