I have been privileged to go around the District over the past two weeks in order to fire current Club Presidents. It’s not that they did a bad job or anything like that, and I’m sure they didn’t deserve to be fired. But fire them I did. I have to tell you most of them took it very well….maybe a little too well. In fact, virtually every Club President that I fired over the past two weeks seemed positively gleeful to receive the news. Perhaps they were so happy because along with firing them, I was hiring their replacement for the 2015-16 year. And perhaps they were happy because they were in incredibly good company.
In fact, I informed them that they joined a parade of about 34,000 Club Presidents all around the world that got fired. And they were joined by over 500 District Governors that got fired. And they were joined by this very nice guy from Taiwan, who we all grew to love last year, who asked us to “Light Up Rotary.” That’s right, RI President Gary Huang got bagged last year as well. There is some new guy now who wants us To Be A Gift To the World.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve often wondered about Rotary’s determination to commit corporate suicide every year by firing our leadership team….just when they finally get the hang of the job. From the perspective of trying to execute a strategic plan, where having continuity of leadership is critical, I can’t imagine anything more dumb….OK….less productive. Why do we do it you ask? I have a few ideas about this, but first….I thought I would share a couple of clips about getting fired. Here’s the gentle “your fired” clip from the very intelligent movie, The Invention of Lying.
Here are three reasons to change Club Presidents every year. You may not agree with them, but heck…it’s Sunday evening on Fourth of July weekend and I have the microphone. Here you go.
First, it’s hard to imagine this now, but back in the day being a community’s Rotary Club President was one of the most prestigious positions in town. There was too much competition for the job to allow any one person to have it more than one year. Those days are sadly gone now, but it is an interesting thought experiment to wonder what we have to do in our Rotary Clubs to get back to those days.
Perhaps you agree that that reason Number One doesn’t seem to resonate, so let’s go on to reason number two. Being a Rotary Club President, or a member of a Rotary Club Leadership Team, presents an enormous opportunity for personal and professional growth. We don’t talk enough about it, but for many of us we will never again have the opportunity to lead in the same way. Being an effective Club President requires someone to employ numerous skills, including public speaking, planning, recruiting, persuading, engaging, being an expert in peace and conflict resolution, and being a visionary for their Rotary Club. Why not give everyone the opportunity to give it a try? Ask Past Club Presidents what they learned during their Presidential year from the perspective of professional and personal growth (as I’ve had the pleasure to do many times) and you will get a long list of really cool stuff.
Before I get to reason number three, I thought I would share a scene from the movie, “Jobs.” You have to cringe as this is a VERY bad firing. Fortunately, we have an orderly and cordial change of leadership in our clubs, and I’m using the words “your fired” in order to get a laugh and elicit some thought. Anyway….let’s hope this never happens to you!
“But Ken, he was the best Club President we ever had, and you just fired him.” I DON’T CARE. HE (or She) IS ALREADY FIRED!!!!!
OK. It’s time for reason number three that we “fire” our Club Presidents every year. How about this? There is no better opportunity to change the world for the better than being a Rotary Club President. Just about every great Rotary club program begins with a great idea from someone in a Rotary club, that usually gets nurtured and implemented by an effective Club President and Club Leadership Team. As I like to say, there is no “good idea form” in District 7620. If you have a good idea to improve your club, your local community, or the global community, then the only barriers to your success are your own imagination, skill, capacity for hard work, and determination. Can you imagine a better job description than that? With that kind of capacity to promote positive change in the world, then doesn’t it make sense to give as many Rotarians as possible a shot at it? I think so, even if it means that strategic planning is more of a challenge. Smarter people than me obviously figured out a long time ago that it makes sense to turn the gig over every year so everyone gets a chance.
RI President, Ravi, asks us this year to “Be A Gift to the World.” Thanks to all of our outgoing Club, District, and RI leaders who served us so well. And thanks to all of you who stepped up and volunteered to be a leader of your Rotary Club. It’s your turn to shine.
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