We can all agree that when members join Rotary, there are plenty of opportunities to serve their community and the world. However, did you know there is also an opportunity to lead your community and the world, too? In this month’s episode, we sit down with RI Vice President Valarie Wafer to discuss how Rotary and leadership go hand-in-hand, the leadership opportunities that are available to you, and what qualities define strong leadership.
Valarie Wafer, RI Vice President, Rotary Club of Collingwood-South Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada
Nick Taylor, Club and District Support Associate Officer
Sarah Steacy, Club and District Support Associate Officer
John Hannes, Club and District Support Senior Officer
All Things Rotary: A CDS Podcast
2.03: “But like, I am not a leader...am I?”
Host: Nick Taylor, CDS Associate Officer
Guest: Valarie K. Wafer, Rotary International Vice President 2021-22, Rotary Club of Collingwood-South Georgian Bay, Ontario Canada
Producer: Sarah Steacy, CDS Associate Officer
Contributor: John Hannes, CDS Senior Officer
[Intro Music Begins]
NICK: When members join Rotary, not only is there an opportunity to serve your community and world, there's an opportunity to lead your community and world. Whether it be leading your club, district, or zone there are countless options for leadership. Perhaps it starts with joining a committee on a topic you're passionate about. Or maybe you're looking to hone a specific aspect of leadership like your people management skills, public speaking abilities, or perfecting multi-tasking on a global project. The point is: no matter the skill, there is an opportunity for you. On today's episode, join us in conversation with Rotary International Director and RI Vice President Valarie Wafer as she shares what she has learned about leadership through Rotary, and why leadership is one of our hidden gems.
NICK: Awesome! Well, so excited to have you here, Valarie, with us today! Thanks for joining us here on All Things Rotary: A CDS Podcast.
VALARIE: Well, thanks for the invitation Nick! I mean, what an amazing podcast series you've put together! I think it's a great way to bring our Rotarians along with some of the more complex questions that they might have, and just really putting it into everyday terms. Right?
NICK: Yeah, absolutely! I mean, that is the goal. We really just want to provide more opportunities to learn more - more of the intricacies of Rotary International. One of the things that, like, I always talk to new clubs and new members about is, you know, like, it's one thing to want to serve and to want to be a Rotarian, want to be a member of this organization. But there's a learning curve. And, you know, there's a lot that goes on, you know, within the organization and a lot of intricacies. And so, really more than anything, we just want to provide more modalities, [chuckling] more ways of getting that information out there to kind of facilitate that process for a Rotarian, whether they're brand new to the organization or somebody who's been there for years.
VALARIE: Well, I applaud that because I remember the first time that I sat in the Rotary meeting and I was pretty intimidated by not only the history of our organ, but the acronyms and everything that our club was doing in the community, so great idea!
NICK: Yeah, and we will definitely get to more about that in a couple minutes - about that, you know, your introduction to Rotary and kinda your growth and progress through the organization. But first, the point of this episode - the reason that we really want to have you on was to talk about leadership. And, to kind of kick this off, we want to talk a little bit more in general terms about Rotary and leadership. Rotary is, you know, worldwide known for things like polio eradication, service projects, community involvement - those types of things. But, maybe it's not always as known as, like, a leadership development organization. How do you find, like, that connection? How do you see Rotary as a leadership development organization?
VALARIE: Well, you know, I think that that is one of our hidden gems - right? We hear great stories from Rotarians about why they join Rotary. And, you know, we hear things like "getting to know my community," "giving back," "a chance to participate in international service projects and networking." But it isn't often that I hear the reason that people join Rotary is to develop leadership skills. But here's the thing: the very nature and structure of our clubs and districts provide organic opportunities to serve and develop individually as leaders. You know, we start off in our club and we serve at community levels, we chair fundraisers, we head up local or international service projects - serving at the club board level, you know, for many people that's the first experience you might have learning governance or the importance of bylaws and constitutions. And then you end up taking on roles like secretary or club president, treasurer. But the great thing is: as this is happening in our clubs, we're learning public speaking skills, we're learning how to run an effective meeting, and how to chair a board. And that's just at the club level, right? When we think beyond that - of the district and zones and international - the opportunities are endless and, as I said, it kinda happens organically. These opportunities are in front of you, and as long as you're willing to embrace them and say "yes," then, you know, I quite often hear - let me just - I quite often hear that "I am a better leader, I have learned better leadership skills in Rotary than I did 25 years being the CEO of my business." Because, motivating and leading volunteers - when they're not collecting that paycheck at the end of the week - is a very different skill set, and I think it's one that we could really adapt to our own business and professional lives, as well. So, you know, I think there's amazing opportunities in Rotary to be leaders and find the way you want to lead!
NICK: Yeah, absolutely - I love the word you used, "organic," cuz I think that there's a lot of truth to that. That, there's a lot of ways for Rotarians and members of the organization to be quote unquote leaders, right? You have your club officers, you have your club board, your club president, club secretary, club treasurer - whatever it may be, and of course, like, there's the district opportunities and the zone opportunities and then, you know, all the way up to the Rotary International organization and Board of Directors. However, there are so many opportunities organically to lead. I mean, I think of situations like you mention with service projects. Like, what if, you know, somebody just joined a Rotary club and all of a sudden they've been tasked with leading and being in charge of a service project? Well, that right there is a great opportunity to kinda show leadership and try out some of these skills that you just mentioned.
VALARIE: No, absolutely - and it's really about finding your passion, right? So, we all want to serve, we all want to volunteer, but there has to be that "What's in it for me? What's going to drive me to spend extra hours outside of my work commitments, outside of my family enjoyment time?" And so I think when we find that "what's in it for me," it just happens. And, sometimes we don't even define it as leadership. And then you look back, and you go "Wow! I just learned this really great new skill that makes me a stronger leader, makes me see the world in a different way, makes me be able to contribute," - but also adapt some of those skills, again you know, outside of Rotary, which I think is really important.
NICK: Yeah, yeah - "what's in it for me?" That's a great question, specifically with volunteers like you said, which is a completely different beast than having somebody being like, "Hey, the paycheck is what's in it for you." And in this one, yeah, you're definitely kind of - your angle is different. How have you seen that kind of play out in your own leadership experience with, like, getting people to volun-...to lead people, motivate people when there's not that, like, maybe extrinsic motivation, we'll say?
VALARIE: Yeah, you know, I think sometimes we tend to give, you know, it's the old 80/20% rule, right? 20% of the people are willing to step up and do 80% of the work. But, quite often we're not offering those, you know, opportunities to others who may not feel comfortable putting their hand up, may not feel that they're ready to put their hand up. But I think it's about having that honest conversation, right? It's about asking people what they're interested in. When we bring people on, and we onboard them in Rotary, we have so many tools - and here I am speaking to CDS, Club and District Support. You know the tools better than anybody!
NICK: A few, yep!
VALARIE: But how many times do we bring someone on and say "Welcome to Rotary! Find your own way." And we forget to mentorship, we forget to mentor 'em, we forget to lead them through that experience tool - you're gonna know the tool name, [chuckling] I can't remember it - where we actually ask, "What are you interested in? How do you want to serve? What's your background?"
VALARIE: Because, we don't want to put that square peg in a round hole because we're setting people up for failure, right? Sometimes people are afraid to not say "yes" when you ask them to do a role, and sometimes they rise to the occasion and they bring along those team members that can really compliment their skill set and bring what's needed to the opportunity ahead of us. Sometimes, they're just not ready to take on those skill sets - and maybe it's not only not in their wheelhouse, they're really not interested in taking on that role. And so, I think it starts with a conversation. It starts with asking, you know - when we think about bringing people into Rotary, we're so great at bringing into Rotary, we sell a product. But, are we delivering on that product? Because that product is very individual to each member that joins our Rotary club. And I always like to speak about Rotary experience versus our Rotary club. And, our club may look similar as far as structure and leadership opportunities - but our experience is very individualized.
NICK: Yeah, such a fascinating comment. And, I think the tool you're referring to is that Membership Assessment tool -
VALARIE: That's it!
NICK: Yeah, exactly. And I think that, like, as a service organization - and not even just our serv- any NGO non-profit, you know, multi-lateral agency - we've established that when we go into a community and we want to do a service project, we want to do a community assessment, right? We want to ask the community what they need. 'Cuz if we think we know what they need and then we do it, and then we leave, what happens? It just goes away, right?
VALARIE: You know, I think that can be applied to absolutely everything that we do in life. You know, we can never make an assumption of how any of us show up, what our needs are, what our equitable chances to be leaders, to succeed in community service projects, to succeed in international service projects - it's all about having those honest conversations to the stakeholders.
NICK: Exactly. And, in this situation, stakeholders we're referring to are the members. Right? And so, how often are we actually asking the members, how often are we doing that community assessment, but within our own club? That membership assessment. And you're right, I think - I recently just read a quote that, like, we were all blessed with certain passions, right? And certain, like, drives and intrinsic motivations. And it is just about finding, "What are you passionate about? What do you care about?" And then, giving them the space and the opportunity to then run with that, that motivation.
VALARIE: Yeah no, I completely agree. And, you know, when we see the change in membership organisations - specifically, in North America - I think more than ever that conversation and that, you know, "What is driving you? What will drive you to serve?" I think we have this amazing opportunity to have those conversations.
NICK: Yeah, absolutely. So - 'cuz we talked about finding, like - doing a membership assessment and finding out how, like, what motivates an individual, right? And then, like, giving them that opportunity. And, my question is: what might that actually look like? Like, what might that opportunity actually be? Like, what could somebody do from a club? Like is a service project? Is it an initiative? Is it something else within the club? Have you seen anything like that? Could you give an example?
VALARIE: Yeah no, absolutely! You know, not everybody wants to be a club president, a district governor, a director and many of us don't set out with that in mind. But, there's so many ways that you can be a leader outside of the formal positions in Rotary, right? So, you know, there's examples of using your vocation, your professional experience and your passion. Things like: participating or being part of a cadre of experts around our Areas of Focus, right? Where you - you're not only zeroed in on, maybe, a specific area that you're really strong in, but developing that leadership, and developing that mentorship and that experience and support for our Rotarians. You know, we value our club and our members and friends, but we each have a different way of serving. And I think that the last 18 months of this pandemic has certainly shown us that in this virtual world...it's reminded us, for example, that we are a global organisation and there are many, many ways that we can serve. One of the things we're seeing in North America, for example, is a lot of cause-based clubs starting out. And so again, you know, you may not choose to be the president of that club, but you bring a very specific skillset perhaps to that cause-based club that is centered on a certain focus. And, you know, using your vocation and, you know, really finding a way to serve in Rotary. I think another really great example during the last 18 months is COVID. We're looking to our members who can provide us with their expert advice to keep our members safe. And, you know, we're proud and want to say thank you to all the members and medical people in Rotary who have shown incredible leadership in our communities to assist with vaccination, food sourcing, PPEs, advocating for vaccinations - which is so important to our organisation. And then also, you know, away from the actual vaccination providing that community and economic support, leadership in our communities, as we rebuild or as we come out of COVID. There's leadership opportunities every single day in Rotary, and I'm not sure that we need to formalize that or give it an official title. I think that, everyday, when we go out into our communities, we are leaders in Rotary.
NICK: Absolutely, yeah. I like that. Not having to give it a title, not having to make it official. I mean, I think just being a member of the organization, right then and there, you're a leader within the community. You're doing something, you know, you're taking action that, whereas, maybe other people haven't. So, I'd like to dive a little bit - kind of transition, now - let's dive into the "Life of Valarie," here...
NICK: ...and hear a little bit more about your introduction to leadership within the organization, and maybe for all of our listeners, also, do you mind just explaining a little bit about - how did you get involved with Rotary?
VALARIE: Sure, well - you know, I think it's interesting when people say "Why did you join Rotary?" We hear all kinds of different answers. But, I'm not sure mine is all that unique!
VALARIE: So, I grew up in a family where we were part of the community, and my dad was a Lion and his favourite job was to work the farmer's market. And I remember, you know, his stories about loving to walk up and down the aisles of the produce, and the arts and crafts, and just getting to know everybody. So, a real sociable family I come from! I was my children's Girl Guide leader - so, I have two daughters. And I was their Girl Guide leader, I was their hockey coach, I was their assistant swim coach...then the girls grew up. Right? They became teenagers, they were away to college and university, and I kind of thought, "It's time for me." Right? "It's time for me to get to know my community and give back, and how can I contribute?" So, I was running a business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, owning a franchise in Toronto, Canada and - so I was looking for something different. I was looking for something varied. I didn't want to do administration - that's what I did all day long - so I was looking for a way to contribute that had many different facets and opportunities. And I didn't even know Rotary existed until a friend told me about it, and went to a meeting the very next week, and never stopped, and here I am today! So, you know, it was there. I didn't know it existed, and it was everything that I was looking for. So, here I am!
NICK: I love it! Yeah that's a great, great story - and of course, you know, it started with just a friend telling you about the organization, something so simple. And I think that's something that, you know, in the larger scope of membership development, you know, sometimes we like to overcomplicate things too much and a simple, "Hey, have you heard about this organization I'm a part of?" can go a long way, and we see what happened with you.
VALARIE: Well, and I'd like to give a plug for our membership initiative this year under President Shekhar. You know what? It really comes down to: Each One, Bring One. Just tell that story, just ask someone to come along.
NICK: Mhmm, absolutely. So, going in - so you become a Rotary club member, you're involved in the community and I'm assuming, you know, organically you got involved and had these opportunities and leadership development opportunities that you referenced. But, how did that kind of play out for you? Did you, you know...what were some of the opportunities, initially, that you had to be a leader?
VALARIE: Well, first of all, I think it really was, you know, what was missing from my life or what was next in my life. So, my very first Rotary meeting that I attended was April. And so, if we think of the Rotary Year, you know, it's coming towards the end of the year and by August our president-elect was looking to firm up his board. And so here I am, brand-new to Rotary, not even a year, and he's like, "Valarie, I'd really like you to be on my board!" And I just put my hands up in front of my face and said, "No no no! I just want to be a club Rotarian," I just, you know, "I've just got so much to learn, and I've got a full-time job and a business - so I just want to be a Rotary club member." But you know, as I got involved, by the next year I was ready, and I was asked again. And so, thee years later I was club president. And while I was club president, which, honestly, Nick - it's the best job ever, right? I mean, being club president is "Leadership 101." I mean, you're thrown into it, right?
NICK: In the trenches, right?
VALARIE: Yeah, absolutely! You're standing in front of the room, standing at a podium, developing what your club meeting is going to look like, running your board, delivering speeches, bringing in speakers - incredible, incredible opportunity! But before my president year was even up, the district governor-elect asked me to be an assistant governor. And, again, I kinda went, "Whoa whoa whoa! I'm not even done my president year!" But, honestly, it was the best thing that could have ever happened because it then got me outside the club, right? So I had 4-5 clubs I was responsible for, I was visiting them, I was networking, I was learning how other clubs operated, what their interests were...and then it just, you know, next steps, right? Being on some district committee, being district governor, having the opportunity to be a district trainer, a Vocational Training Team leader, going on international trips - I mean, I'm fast-forwarding through the years, here. But you know what the cool thing was? And, I think this is my message is that: each time an opportunity came about, it was because somebody tapped me on the shoulder. Somebody tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I believe in you. I think you're ready. I know you're ready, and you have our support." And so, I just think that, you know...did I think I would ever be a Rotary International Director? I don't even think I knew what a director was [chuckles] back then! But, you know, I just think...to me, my "What's in it for me?" has always been - and I think I stumbled across it, I didn't realize it at the beginning - was leadership development. And that is what Rotary International, and my Rotary experience has given me.
NICK: So I think that's...that kinda makes me think of a couple, different things here. And the first one is, like, talking about yeah your reason, your "why," and that being leadership development - which I think is just awesome, that kinda, find out...I think it's important for every member to kind of figure out what your "why" is. And, I mean that could be said for anything that you do in life - not just within Rotary International. And then, along the words with "why," there's this idea of, like, "why not?" right? And so, whenever somebody tapped you on the shoulder you, from what it sounds like, your first inclination was like, "hey, no I'm not ready for this. I can't do it," and I think so many people fall into that category, that they don't think they can be a leader. They don't think they should be club president or club secretary or whatever it may be. And so, how do we change that perspective? Changing that "why/no I can't do it," and making it a "why not," like "why not me?" "Why can't I be a leader?"
VALARIE: Well I think, really, it's leading by example and it's really I think as leaders it's incumbent upon us to be that search team. Right? To realize that somebody brought out the best in you and, really, that's how you pay it forward. Right? So, it's about interacting, it's about giving people the chance to lead. It's about not being the only voice at the front of the room, or you know...I love to run panel discussions and hear the best out of what everybody else can bring to the conversation, because I think that that's really how we learn. Again, I have a take away every single time I lead a panel discussion with a cross-sectional group of people. And so I think it's really about giving other people the opportunity to have a voice, to learn, and to tap them on the shoulder. Right? So, we hear quite often - I'm sure you do at Club and District Support all the time - "we don't have a lot of people running for president," "we don't have a lot of people running for district governor," and sometimes it's about looking at the role and making the role more doable, right? And so, we need to be open-minded, and I know you guys get a lot of questions like this. "Can we share the role of district governor?" "Can we do it a little bit differently?" And I'm really excited about some of the conversation happening at the Board level, at the Committee level about how we can move our organisation forward. Maybe it's time to look at our governance structure. Maybe it's time to make these opportunities for others to lead a little bit more adaptable and relatable to where they are in life. And so I think that that, as leaders, that's our role. Our role is to bring them along, but also to maybe keep an eye on traditions and traditional ways of serving, and being open and flexible going forward.
NICK: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. Just like you said, paying it forward and getting more people involved, I think that's the key. Any believing in people, I think that's also really, really important. There's another part of your story that I found a little interesting: that you joined Rotary after your children were grown, correct?
VALARIE: They were in high school, actually...
NICK: OK, so - but yeah more independent, right?
NICK: And I feel like this is a common conversation that is happening in every Rotary training, you know, Rotary International training across the world, that you know, how do we get the slightly younger generation to get involved? There's tons of leaders who are just fantastic people, but they have small children, they have young families, they have early careers, they have all these different things going in their life - but they could contribute so much more to Rotary. And, I think we have a fantastic group of that demographic already. But of course we always want to grow, we always want to take advantage of these - of leadership, of leaders from every demographic. What do you think we need to do as an organization to - or, maybe just on a club level - to make sure that group of individuals are also included?
VALARIE: Yeah, you know it's interesting. So, I describe my early life as, you know, my father being involved in Lions and me giving back while my children were growing up. But I also said I didn't know that Rotary existed. And, for me, I think - even though I owned a business, 24/7, worked corporately before that - If I knew Rotary existed when I was in my 20's, I know I would have joined. So, I think we don't do a great job of promoting what we do and to, you know, what the opportunities are. But, I also think it starts...it starts with our Youth Programs. Right? So, Early Act, Interact, RYLA, Youth Exchange - each of these offer such unique experiences that, when you speak to anyone who's participated and, you know, as a Youth Exchange student for example, you know that taking yourself out of your comfort level, moving to another country, learning a language, almost being a peace ambassador, right? To cultural differences and changes...when they come home, hearing their stories and how it impacted their life from deciding what to take in university to, maybe even, a career path or to service opportunity. So, honestly, I think if we can do a little bit better at keeping our Youth Programs engaged after their experiences and really capitalizing on their experience and their leadership that they've developed and listening, I think if we start and really, you know, solidify not only their experiences going forward, but capitalize on their experience and how we can keep them in our Rotary family. And they become ambassadors as well. So I think the younger we can make people aware of the benefits of our organisation, again: your Rotary experience. What is it you're looking for, and how can we further develop that? And if we have those conversations with the next generation, or the generation of leaders that are coming, I think that that will make our organisation stronger and more people will be aware of Rotary at a younger age.
NICK: Yeah, that's what we like to tell people all the time, that, we just need to brag about ourselves more, right? We just need to [chuckling] post more about it, and there's...a few episodes ago, we actually did one on service projects, and one of the most fascinating things that happened was: there was a district in California that did a huge service project and one of their great initiatives was they called every local news channel, they called every outlet, and they just told them what happened and they promoted it. And from that project, there was like 40 or 50 individuals who reached out and wanted to get involved, and then they were able to start a new club with that group of individuals that actually reached out. And then, so, yeah it was just a great way of getting the word out, making sure people understood. And I always say this to everyone, I think most people in the world, if you said "Hey do you want to be a member of an organization that does this, this, this, and all this good in the world?" most people are gonna say, "Yes."
VALARIE: Yeah, you know, we have come a long way - even in my experience in Rotary. I mean, you probably remember Nick, we used to say, "Have your 30-second elevator speech ready..."
NICK: [chuckling] Yeah!
VALARIE: Right? And so, yeah, everyone pictures themselves in an elevator and everyone, of course, is doing proper elevator etiquette and they're all looking at the floors, and they're not looking at each other - and you have 30-seconds to tell somebody about this incredible organisation that has changed your life! And so, you know, we really need to tell our personal stories. And, you're absolutely right. We..you know charity and service, by nature, are very humbling things that mean something to us, and we don't want to brag that this is something that we do. And so we keep it to ourselves -to our own detriment, really. Right? So, I mean...still, to this day, people recognize the Rotary wheel, but the question is, "What is Rotary?" And so, we're not doing a really great job of selling. But this, again, is an amazing opportunity that we have. To have those conversations, to do those community assessments. Our communities need us now, more than ever. Right? And, so as we come out of COVID and support each other, work with our community partners - whether it's around bringing new endeavors, people in to Rotary; whether it's about a community and economic need; whether it's about working in our food banks to support food sourcing - it's our opportunity to also work with community partners. And what a great opportunity to, again, not only us talk about what we're doing, but have them work side-by-side with us and say, "Hey, I'm working with this Rotary club - or these amazing Rotarians in the community...and do you know that they did this? This is incredible, I think we're going to work more and more with them, and you should join us," sort of thing you know? So, we need that collective voice as well!
NICK: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I think more unity would absolutely help, in that sense. And, I mean, yeah there's obviously challenges that we're going to face as an organization. There's challenges you're gonna face as the leadership. Just, really briefly, do you mind telling us a little bit about - and you don't have to go into specific detail, but...did you face any challenges in your leadership as you grew in Rotary? And if so, how did you overcome those?
VALARIE: Well, you know that's a really great question! I think we all have challenges, you know, during any...whether its' your corporate growth, your educational growth, [chuckling] your parental growth. I mean, you know, challenges certainly shape who we are! I've had a lot of support and mentorship of some great Rotarians and friends, and I think some of the challenges that we face are challenging the status quo in Rotary. Right? Because, we're an organisation that's been around for 116 years and women have only, you know, in a very short time of 116 years - just the last 30 years or so - women have been allowed in Rotary. So, we know that change can be slow in our organisation. But, I'm really excited about the work, as I mentioned, that the Board and our Committees are working on. As you know, you may know, I'm the chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force and that journey alone brings some challenges. But, the outcomes - and I think that's what we need to look at when we look at challenges, is the outcomes - will be that we're an inclusive and provide equitable chances for leadership and membership in our organisation to those who have historically not been included. So, personally, I try to look at challenges as an opportunity and, you know what? I know that's not always easy to do, and sometimes I really have to check myself and remind myself of that. But, when I'm frustrated or challenged, I try to say to myself - alright, I do say to myself - "What have I learned from this experience, and how can I develop as a leader?" And I have to say, quite often, it's those really challenging - maybe, sometimes, frustrating - opportunities that we actually learn more from. If we can take a step aside and we can say, "Would I have done this this way again, or am I observing something that I don't agree with? How can I change that?" or "How can I turn that around?" And so, not always easy to do! But, I do try to live my life, whether it was in business or in Rotary, looking at challenges. Being able to take a step aside and say, "How can this make me a better leader?"
NICK: Yeah, no I think...I think you said some really great nuggets in there! Specifically, challenges are...I think a great leader can take a challenge and unify and really have a positive impact coming out of that. Or, you know, obviously it can divide. But I think it is just really a matter of getting your group, or whoever you're leading, to kind of be on the same page and have the same goal. And that's why, you know, going back to, once again, what we've kind of been talking about I feel like has been the theme of this conversation is really: "Finding your why." Finding your why you're in an organization. And that - I'm gonna ask you for your recommendation, for all the leaders of clubs and districts out there. But, I feel like for mine, in my short, few years of experience within Rotary International, that is so key for leaders to know and to also, you know, to have "why" for your club. You know, a goal, a vision for your club so that when you do face those challenges, disagreements, whatever it may be - you know that you're all on the same page, at least. Your outcomes should be the same. And then I think that helps you get there. So to kind of wrap this up, Valarie, we'd like to hear just your final tidbit. What's your recommendation for leadership? For leaders and non-official leaders, like we said, just individuals in the club who are leaders in their own right, but maybe without a formal title.
VALARIE: Yeah, no, you know it's a great question. What are my recommendations? Honestly, it's finding your passion. What drives you, what motivates you to continue in a volunteer capacity to further our organisation, to further your club, to further your experience and, really, it's - you know what? It's just...it's finding that passion, it's rolling up your sleeves, it's about just getting out there. It's about looking for opportunities beyond, like Rotary Fellowship Groups, Rotary Action Groups - there's so many ways that we can all participate and find a way that we can learn more about our orgnisation, learn about ourselves, learn about ways to serve. But, you know, I remember when I was district governor and a Rotary mentor of mine said to me - I said, "Well, what's next?" You know?
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"What comes after Rotary District Governor?" And they said, "Find your passion." Whether that's membership, whetehr it's working with community partners, whether it's furthering your development skills - just find a way to serve and keep yourself motivated and moving along constantly. I mean, you know, I always say "the minute I stop learning is probably the minute I draw my last breath." Because that's what drives me. I have that need for constant learning, and I think a lot of people are like that. But that journey is not the same for everyone. And it can be very different. And so I really think it's an individual choice of revaluating. "Is this going to move my career forward?" "Is this going to assist in my career and further opportunities there?" But, also, "How can I serve my community?" and "How can I make an impact on the world?" As you say, we're People of Action. And so, whether it's a formal leadership role, or it's rolling up your hands in service, we are making an impact every single day that we wear our Rotary pin and go out in to the community.
NICK: Well, what a great episode we were just able to listen to with Valarie! I think she just had such great information in that short amount of time - don't you think, Sarah?
SARAH: I agree! I think something that I really took away from that conversation is just how important it is as a leader, like, what your responsibility as a leader is - is to ask others to also lead, and to seek out other potential leaders. And that's just such an important aspect.
NICK: Yeah, totally. What does she say? "Tapping on the shoulder." It was just so simple!
SARAH: Yeah! Yeah, exactly!
NICK: Yeah, I like that. Yeah, something that stuck out to me was also just the amount of options and possibilities that you can lead both, like, officially and unofficially within a club and/or district. You know, it's just really cool to think about how many options there actually are to be a leader.
SARAH: I agree. And, I think the reason - while we're focusing on, we're choosing an episode that's all about leadership and what it's, like, connection to Club and District Support is: because so many of these positions - it's kind of like what you just said - these, like, "official" or "unofficial" positions. And when I think of what that means, I think of the positions that are outlined in the Rotary Code of Policies and they really give a description. You know there's over 50+ positions that are described in the Code of Policies for just like, the club and district levels. So, that's not including, you know, if you're a director or if you are the president of Rotary International. And so, what I think is these policies are really a guide for leaders.
NICK: 100%. Yeah, the policy is there to not only explain what you can do, or what the qualifications and duties and responsibilities are for leaders. But they're also there, like you mentioned, to guide them with specific situations that may arise as a leader. Other options, as well, and our last little plug here before we wrap up is definitely just to highlight the Learning Center. And, for any leader that's interested in learning more about these types of situations and different responsibilities for your position, check out all the information and courses on the Learning Center which has great information, as well.