Speaker: City Manager Greg Lewis

During his classification presentation to the Rotary Club of Lebanon-Riverside, City Manager Greg Lewis delineated how his concept of Rotary leadership evolved. He noted that Rotary is all about leadership and that everyone is a leader in many different ways, always maintaining a balance between official duties and personal commitments.

Greg lived for twenty-five years in south-central Kansas. His father, part of the greatest generation, was a truck driver of few words — not unusual on the great prairie. The task of caring for Greg and his brother fell largely to their mom. While growing up, Greg had numerous pets and was good with livestock, so it was assumed that his future lay in his becoming a veterinarian. In college, after experiencing his first two labs in biology, Greg knew that vet school was not going to be his choice. At about the same time, a local state legislator took Greg with him to a legislative session, and Greg switched his major to political science. In Kansas farm country, that shift was hard to explain, and Greg’s parents were disappointed.

As was true for most young men of his generation, Greg’s first real encounter with politics and local government took place with his selective service board. On the day of his graduation from college, his father arrived on campus and greeted him with the words, “Here’s a letter.” It was a letter from the selective service board directing him to report for induction. Having just been accepted to law school, Greg thought there would be no problem in his obtaining an exemption. He wrote the board a marvelously crafted letter explaining his circumstances — and never heard anything from them.

So on the day prescribed, Greg showed up at the designated bus stop, where members of the selective service board greeted everyone and gave them each a bag containing apples and toothpaste for their upcoming journey. The chairman of the board asked which one of them was Greg Lewis. Immediately Greg thought, “Ah, they have responded positively to my letter after all!” The board member said, “We read your letter and were very impressed. So we are appointing you leader of the bus.” That was Greg’s introduction to leadership — always needed at some level in every circumstance.

Throughout his career as city manager in two communities in Minnesota, one community in New York State, and now here in New Hampshire, Greg has continued to apply the lessons he learned that day as leader of the bus:

1) Don’t jump off the bus;
2) Have all your papers together;
3) Keep everyone unified;
4) Ensure that the outcome is good for all concerned.

These four rules could probably be effectively substituted for Rotary’s own “Four-Way Test”!