Posted on Jul 11, 2019
Article by Euan Miller, D9520 Membership Chair
I have just completed two years as District Membership Chair and the standout observation is clubs that have effective leaders are clubs that demonstrate Rotary in Action.
They are dynamic, they achieve Rotary Citations, they maximise membership retention and they grow their membership.
On the other hand, clubs that elect Presidents without much thought about what makes a good leader because it is somebody’s turn or because nobody else wants to do it; are at risk of ending up with a wasted year.
What’s more, it usually leads to · drop-in morale in the club · sometimes disputes between members which are left to fester · an inevitable net loss of members for the year. Relying on PETS and District Assemblies to magically train leaders over a couple of days is futile.
We need to select Rotarians with the capacity to lead first. Rotary knowledge and experience is not a good measure of leadership.
In my district, we have examples of standout club leaders with less than two years of Rotary membership. One solution would be for AGs to be given some authority to assist clubs to identify potential leaders and to have a say in the selection of Presidents’ Elect. AGs know their under-performing clubs and rather than this being seen as interference, I believe club members would welcome such intervention if it means their club can become both dynamic and fun again.
Even if a club has an effective membership director, it is not going to be successful with membership growth and retention if the club as a whole lacks direction. New members soon become discouraged if they are not asked what they want to achieve if they are given nothing to do if meetings are not purposeful and there is a lack of social interaction and networking.
It is not only PE’s that need to have leadership qualities. Clubs should have a strategic plan in place that includes a succession plan for future Presidents over the next few years. It this way club members can be given the confidence and skills, training and mentoring to be future leaders. Like a good wine, leadership has to be developed and matured over time. Sometimes clubs get lucky and get a leader that has already gained their leadership skills in another environment, but more often than not we have to make and bottle our own club vintage. If we don’t get more effective leaders we will continue to lose members and our clubs will continue to decline. It is not the Rotary model that is weakening Rotary.
It is our lack of effective club leadership that is leading to less than effective clubs and consequential membership decline.