Plan for your Role as Chapter Leader!
by Dan Bureau, PhD
University of New Hampshire, ‘95
Board of Trustees
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Memphis
Resolutions are often made the end of one year and the beginning of the next because people are scientifically proven to be ready for change. There is a mindset that comes with making resolutions: I have not achieved my goals in the past year (or years) but now I feel ready to make that change. When considering what changes you need to make, also give pause to how those changes will ultimately impact those around you and what strategies you need to enact in order to achieve those goals.
As you consider some of your resolutions for 2019, think about what you need to do relative to your role in Phi Kappa Theta. Leaders can always turn things around even with really difficult situations, but you have to be ready. Here are three resolutions you might adopt in your role as a leader in your chapter, your alumni association, or as part of any other committee/board on which you serve that is connected to Phi Kappa Theta.
1. I will be more focused on listening to others than only asserting my opinion. You have been elected/selected based on qualifications. Therefore, you have a right to give your opinion and it is likely one that has been considered in depth at some point. However, good leaders listen as much as they talk (if not more).
Talking at people does not really work unless they are clear on your rationale and also how it will impact them. Moving forward, ask questions even if you think you know the answers. For example, rather than share with a brother that you wish he would pay his dues, ask “what can we do to make this experience worthwhile for you so that you invest in it by paying dues” or “what can we do to help you make the payments towards your dues” rather than assume it is just how he chooses to prioritize. Paying dues is one example, but this resolution can be applied to all aspects of leadership.
For more information check out this article from Inc. magazine.
2. I will seek to engage others rather than doing everything myself or letting the elite few who do work tackle these tasks. It is easy just to get something done the way you want it, but as you and your fellow leaders conduct themselves this way it lets many others all around you just opt out. This is a challenge particularly for those who are concerned with their legacy of leadership versus the overall effectiveness of their organization. The truth is that your greatest legacy of what you achieve as a leader will come long after you are gone: the test is whether those after you can carry on in a way that is making the organization successful.
As a leader, make the resolution that you are going to seek out brothers (recall the ritual here) and ask them what could help them become more involved. In what are they interested in helping? What are their ideas? Leadership needs to be shared in order to be impactful. Engage others and while the initial work may seem harder, you will empower others, including those who “follow you” to step up and make the difference.
For more information on leading toward results AND relationships, check out this blog post.
3. I resolve to be focused on leadership as acts versus position. This is a reality for any leader. The way it impacts our Fraternity though is that the act of leadership can feel more positional than relational. Anyone can lead and they may lead differently or the same as you but we often default to those in positions of leadership versus all the leadership potential around us. There is a body of research focused on countering this view of leadership. While leadership needs to have “leaders” and “followers” it is important to be clear that anyone may need to step up to lead in a given situation. If you are a positional leader in your chapter/alumni association/other PKT context, then you may or may not be the right person to demonstrate leadership in other ways. For example, if a brother is struggling with something, sometimes the best way to demonstrate leadership is to make sure someone who he is most closely connected to is prepared to connect with him in a way that feels helpful.
Central Michigan University hosts a leadership camp annually. Check out their overview of what’s called the social change model of leadership. This focuses on many things, most notably that leadership is not just position.
These three resolutions connect powerfully around any sort of change management efforts. If you identify change is needed then once you listen to learn, you may feel better informed to implement change that people will buy into. If you engage others in change, they will feel invested more or at least that their voice was heard. Finally, if you focus on leadership as a function versus position, and a function that anyone at anytime can step into, then you will empower people to new heights.
Resolutions often fall apart, so if you start one of these (or all of them) and something goes wrong, then consider what needs to change for you to successfully complete. Also, there may be a need for you to apply these resolutions differently depending on the context of the situation (for example, at some point there are issues within Phi Kappa Theta that simply are driven by the policies of the Fraternity), but keeping these resolutions in mind will help you reflect as a leader on what you can do, what you can do with others, and how you all can work together to make your Phi Kappa Theta experience one that is positive, educational, fun, and impactful to you, your campus and society.
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Dan Bureau joined Phi Kappa Theta at the University of New Hampshire, and graduated in 1995. He later earned a PhD. in Higher Education and Student Affairs at Indiana University. Dan works for the University of Memphis as the assistant vice president for student affairs. He also volunteers for the Council for the Advancement of Standards through the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors. Dan enjoys spending time with his family, playing tennis and staying fit.