"That's a club responsibility," is a common comment from Rotary International (R.I.) leaders, usually followed by "Rotary International cannot tell clubs what to do." The first statement often depends on the subject being discussed, but the latter statement is true. Clubs are autonomous. R.I. cannot and should not try to tell clubs what to do, BUT R.I. certainly can INFLUENCE what its member clubs do. So how does R.I. go about INFLUENCING its member clubs?
KNOW YOUR BUSINESS
The first, and most important, fundamental for R.I. or any other organization that wants to gain INFLUENCE is to know what business it is in. Since the majority of R.I.'s income depends on present and future Rotarians joining R.I. chartered local Rotary clubs, both are R.I.'s customers, therefore, R.I. is in the membership business. This is essential because, if R.I. wants to increase its worldwide INFLUENCE with those who count, it must do so by gaining INFLUENCE with and respecting those who count, its customers - member clubs and present and future Rotarians.
Next after knowing your business, is to serve or deliver something of value to your customers. Serve before asking, or expecting, to be served, and respect those you are serving. The better one serves, i.e. delivers value, the more INFLUENCE one will gain. This same principle is at work when it comes to networking, which is forgettable unless one serves or contributes something of value to those with whom one wishes to network.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
It is essential for R.I. to maintain a high standard in its chosen business. This means that all of R.I.'s communications and actions must exceed the expectations of those whom R.I. wishes to INFLUENCE because example is not a necessary tool for INFLUENCE, it is the ONLY tool! Clubs and Rotarians will, as time passes, see that R.I.'s actions and communications match, which will gain INFLUENCE. Clubs will follow only if led by example.
INSPIRE & MOTIVATE
Respect and trust are basic to gaining INFLUENCE. Both require R.I. knowing the business it is in, serving its member clubs in a greater manner than it wishes to be served, and leading by example. Only then will it be in a position to inspire and motivate clubs and their members to attract and retain Rotarians.
In summary, if R.I. wants to INFLUENCE member clubs and districts to develop membership, before it can inspire and motivate them to do so it must recognize that is in the membership, not service, business; serve and respect clubs and Rotarians more than it expects them to serve and respect R.I. and, to top off gaining INFLUENCE, lead by example. Is R.I. leading membership development by example? Is R.I. delivering more membership development value than it expects to receive?