PDG John Wan – Continuity – October 1999
Effective clubs, the making of
(October 1999 Issue)
By now, you would have heard that the Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International in 2001-02, having functioned in accordance with the RI Bylaws, had unanimously nominated Richard D King of the Rotary Club of Niles (Fremont), California, USA for the office of President of Rotary International for the year 2001-02. If no Rotary club nominates a qualified candidate by 1 December 1999, Richard King will be elected at the 2000 RI Convention to succeed Frank Devlyn of Mexico on 1 July 2001, more than 20 months from now.
You would observe that the procedures for nominating Rotary leaders, including the RI President, are laid down in details in the RI Manual of Procedure, last revised in 1998, which is billed as “A Reference Manual for Rotary Leaders”. These procedures are applicable and indeed recommended for every level of leadership in the Rotary system, including the club and district level, and are designed so that the key people will be selected or elected at least 18 months before they take up offices. It does seem that Rotary has every intention and would bend over backwards to ensure that we have a system that can achieve and maintain continuity in Rotary leadership.
The September promulgation would mean that our good friend Richard King can now begin to plan for his year. In our district, we are now taking steps to assemble a Nominating Committee to return a worthy Rotarian to be Governor-Nominee to work with Richard King. Similarly, at the club level, each club should start planning for an election meeting to return its President-elect for 2001-02 before the end of the year. I therefore find it somewhat disturbing that a few clubs in the district have yet to decide on who to take up the office of the respective presidents-elect for 2000-01. I urge the membership and in particular the Board of Directors of these clubs to make haste, in the interest of continuity for Rotary in general and for their clubs in particular.
The earlier a club returns its future leader, the better that particular leader will be able to prepare for the year in which he is elected to lead the club. Many of you would have heard this from Governor Dipo Sani, “There are no such thing as a strong or weak club, but there are strong or weak presidents.” More often than not, presidents are strong or made stronger because they have taken time to prepare for their presidency, and an essential part of the preparation is to build up a team and to find the right people to do the right job.
In most clubs in the district, the membership will elect the Board of Directors, although the views of the president-elect and his predecessors can be persuasive. I would like to believe that the membership of most clubs would take the matter with the seriousness it deserves, but we live in an imperfect world and accidents can happen. Some members were volunteered to take up offices, while others were put on the Board for the wrong reasons. This could result in a rather weak board, which in turn could result in poor club decisions or no decision at all. The situation would manifest itself worst when a club president assigns an unwilling or ill-equipped member to be chairman of any one of the four avenues of service committees. Let me elaborate.
The role of the four committee chairmen of each club can never be over-emphasized. Individually, they plan activities in the respective avenues of service, and between them they help to ensure a balanced program for the club. Because of this, most clubs would assign experienced Rotarians and very often past presidents to be chairmen, and quite rightly so. Only in very exceptional circumstances should new members be assigned for these duties, and when they are, the club should ensure that they would be properly trained and orientated before they take up offices, either at the District Assembly or by the appropriate District Officials.
This is not to say that new members should not be assigned work on such committees. On the contrary, every effort should be made to appoint them as committee members as early as possible, preferably shortly after induction. Over time, they will gain the necessary experience and be ready to assume committee chairmanship. This would be conducive to the maintenance of continuity in the club programs and help strengthen club leadership.