Home' Rotary Down Under : March 2016 (International) Contents RI PRESIDENT ELECT
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When John Germ
takes office as Rotary
in July, it will mark his 40th year in
Rotary. In that time, he’s likely best
known for leading Rotary’s $200
Million Challenge. Rotarians surpassed
that goal in 2011, raising $US228.7
million towards polio immunisation
activities. It was a monumental
moment for the organisation that led
to many of the eradication successes
we see today.
In fact, raising money for polio was
one of Germ’s first leadership roles. He
became a member of the Rotary Club of
Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1976. “I wasn’t
involved, other than going to meetings,
until 1983 when I was asked to be club
secretary,” he says. “Then I was asked
to participate as district co-chair for
the polio fundraising campaign.” After
that, he was hooked. “The more active
I became, and the more good that I
saw being done, the more I wanted
to do,” he says. Germ went on to
serve Rotary as vice president, director,
Foundation trustee and vice chair, and
RI president’s aide. He and his wife
Judy are also members of the Arch
Klumph Society. Professionally, Germ
continues to consult for Campbell &
Associates, a Chattanooga engineering
firm he started working for in 1965,
eventually serving as chairman and
CEO. The Rotarian Editor in Chief John
Rezek spoke with him about his next
big commitment – his year-long role as
The Rotarian: What are the most
important rules of leadership?
Germ: To me, the most important rule
of leadership is to be a good listener. A
good leader must be a person who can
motivate, encourage, delegate, inspire,
and communicate well. Listening
enables you to better understand the
needs and desires of others.
TR: What does a person in your
position never do?
Germ: A person in my position never
asks anyone to do something I would
not do myself.
TR: What are the core qualities and
character traits that every Rotarian
Germ: The most important core value
is integrity. Without integrity, one has
TR: Some presidents spend most of
their time travelling; some frequently
attend to business at RI headquarters.
Which will you be?
Germ: I intend to do both. Visiting clubs
and districts is important to provide
motivation, to say thank you for the
work being done, and to convey the
TEAM message: “Together everyone
achieves more.” At the same time,
coordinating activities and providing
continuity between RI leaders, staff,
and The Rotary Foundation leadership
is critical. Therefore, we must hold
meetings that include the president,
TRF chair, TRF chair-elect and the
general secretary. There should be joint
board meetings, at least one per year,
to ensure continuity and cooperation.
This requires time in Evanston.
TR: What are Rotary’s most existential
challenges? What can individual
Rotarians do to meet them?
Germ: Rotary’s biggest challenge is
membership. We need to expand
our membership so we can do more
work. We need to attract younger
people, like Rotary youth program
alumni. Recently retired individuals
are another group to engage. We
are an organisation with high ethical
standards and a classification system.
These standards should be maintained
and our current members educated
on why each one of them should be
sponsoring other qualified individuals
to become Rotarians.
TR: Why is it so hard for the public to
understand what Rotary is and does?
How would you remedy that?
Germ: For many years, Rotarians
worked both locally and globally
without seeking publicity or recognition.
When a survey was conducted a few
years ago, it was no surprise to me
that the general public was unaware
of Rotary and the work we do. We
need to enhance Rotary’s public image
by successfully and enthusiastically
marketing who we are and the amazing
things we are doing. No one should
ever have to ask, “What is Rotary?”
TR: What was more difficult to decide
upon: your presidential theme or
design of your tie?
Germ: The design of the tie. It was
easy to create a theme around service.
I was inspired by the work that
Rotarians do locally and globally – so
my theme is how I describe our work,
Rotary Serving Humanity.
TR: What were the two or three most
important steps in your journey to the
presidency? What advice would you
give to a Rotarian who wants to follow
in your footsteps?
“To me, the most
important rule of
leadership is to be
a good listener. A
good leader must
be a person who
enables you to
the needs and
desires of others.”
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