As a new Rotary year begins, and one set of leaders — at the club, district, zone and international levels — steps down to give way to the next set, Rotarians and Rotaractors, turn their eye, with great expectations and aspirations towards the new leaders. This is so much akin to getting a new boss at the workplace. He/she always brings hope, sometimes exceeding expectations and at other times causing dismay all around. For the first couple of weeks, the new leadership, at every level, will be watched keenly for the all-important signals… what is the direction the club or district will take, the enthusiasm, the motivation, and above all, the leadership that the chosen ones will provide, along with both equity, inclusion and integrity. Very few voluntary organisations, if any at all, put the kind of emphasis on training club and district leaders as Rotary does. So GETS, PETS, SETS and other training programmes were planned all across the Rotary world and executed diligently during the last few months.
Now that the training is over, it is time for the leaders to perform. Leadership comes in a variety of hues and contours… some leaders lead from the front, put their boots on the ground and hands in the mud and the flock follows suit. Others are content to provide the direction and allow their team members to execute the work — community service projects, programmes, image-building events, etc. They kickstart the work and then take a backseat, but are always available when needed to step in. This is like planting several saplings and providing the right nourishment (nurturing) to the plants to grow and blossom. Such leadership creates the next crop of leaders.
Leaders can also be dominant and dominating; the dictionary gives the connotation of control to the former and ‘tyrannical control’ to the latter group. At the bottom of the pile are leaders who are uncaring, inefficient or indifferent; one only hopes that they are rare, and at the end of the year, the best that the unfortunate ones who had to suffer them can do is heave a huge sigh of relief… that is, if they have not left Rotary by then!
But let’s look at the positive; look around and you will see the difference a good leader has made to your club or your district. The unique thing about such leaders is that even though their year might have ended, their leadership and drive never do. That is exactly why some PDGs continue to do dramatic work and impressive projects well beyond their year at the district’s helm, while others fade into oblivion. Identify the first category of leaders, stand with them, lend a helping hand, one day at a time, and then see the impact you create in transforming lives around you. Bringing smiles to anxious/stressed faces, and hope to those who do not have any, is no mean task. Only the very fortunate ones get that opportunity. So if you have been given a leadership role, or have the opportunity to be a part of your club or district team, make full use of every moment of the year that is unfolding before you… to serve your communities, help those less privileged than you, ignite minds and make a difference.
Well begun is half done… so here’s a toast to new beginnings.