Home' Rotary Down Under : November 2014 (NZ Pacific) Contents EDITOR’S MAILBOX
10 Issue 567. November 2014
I live in a retirement complex and have been
putting RDU in our library for others to read,
but today decided to look at it through the eyes
of a non-Rotarian. I would not get past the first
page, because it would not be of interest to me.
Putting the page 13, 15, 21 and 25 articles (RDU
September 2014) first might encourage the reader
to read further.
Rotary Club of Adelaide, SA
I feel fairly certain that a lot of Rotary clubs
have members who believe absolutely in what
Rotary stands for, but who are no longer able
to undertake physical tasks such as working on
monthly markets or going overseas to work on
It appears that Australia may shortly be having
an intake of refugees on a slightly better type
of visa. Perhaps some of our more senior
“ancient” – members could teach some basic
English to those who have not yet learned any
and tell them something about the country they
have come to live in, even though it may be
This would help the newcomers to settle here
more quickly and happily and it would certainly
give the elderly club members a very worthwhile
task to partake in.
Does anyone else agree?
Rotary Club of Gerringong Sunrise, NSW
A worthwhile task
It is perfectly natural for leaders to gravitate to people
who they like and like them; to show favour to those
who agree with and work hard to support their efforts.
It’s easy and satisfying for leaders to give choice,
prestigious assignments to loyal followers. In fact, it’s
perfectly natural and encourages followers to strive a bit
harder – toward the leaders’ ways of thinking. In start-up
organisations these practices often spell the difference
between success and failure.
In mature organisations like Rotary International
(RI), this type of intellectual inbreeding is flawed
ideology, because it breeds institutional contentment
and encourages people to continue old practices even
when confronted with new challenges and information.
Intellectual inbreeding has had a disastrous effect on
RI’s membership and is still being perpetuated because
RI leader wannabes cosy up to those who can influence
getting prestigious assignments; rungs on the ladder to
more influential positions.
The most effective way to break corporate inbreeding
is to get outside, objective input, which RI did when it
contracted with Siegel+Gale (SG). Thankfully, SG’s findings
challenged existing mindsets and practices. There was,
and still is, resistance to change, which is normal and is
but one of the obstacles that must be overcome.
Change must be led by a guiding coalition that is
prepared and wants change. Preparation – education and
training – is critical and must begin with some wonderful,
dedicated people – RI’s guiding coalition, its officers and
directors. They are today’s leaders and are influencing
tomorrow’s leaders just like they were influenced by
yesterday’s leaders – and that’s intellectual inbreeding.
Corporate inbreeding among directors contributed to
the fall of General Motors, the Kodak bankruptcy, the
meltdown of several major financial institutions, and
has infected RI. It is simply unfair to the Rotary world
to expect RI officers and directors to govern RI and
lead it out of its membership doldrums if they are not
prepared to do so and do not receive the information
needed to help them make informed decisions and
recommendations. Throughout Rotary, RI officers and
directors influence institutes, seminars, conferences and
assemblies – training grounds for future leaders. They
must be firmly grounded in fundamental responsibilities
and duties; principles they simply cannot get solely from
In 2015, for the first time, RI directors are going to be
exposed to outside training on board responsibilities. Had
this been happening for the past 20 years, it is possible
that RI membership would not be in the condition it is
today. Future leadership should expand on this practice
by encouraging and initiating new innovative ideas on
creating Rotarians. Unfortunately, Rotary leadership has a
long history of returning to the comfortable practices of
yesteryear, believing that their personas alone will bring
about different results – a history that must change.
Rotary Club of Sarasota, USA
Former Rotary Coordinator, Zone 34
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