By Steve Good – Senior Director of Engagement – Phi Delta Theta
As I type, the 2015 Presidents Leadership Conference (PLC) is underway in St. Louis, Missouri. More than 200 Phis have the opportunity to experience this wonderful, three-day leadership development conference each year. Your chapter president is there, and he will surely return to campus with confidence, vision, ideas and a plan to improve your chapter.
The vast majority of our undergraduate members will not have this experience. From a statistical perspective, the PLC delegates make up just over 1.5% of our undergraduate members today. Yes, individuals with incredible leadership skills can move a chapter in the right direction, but as the maxim goes, a good leader must surround himself/herself with great people. If you’re reading this and you are not the chapter president, know that your chapter president needs you to lead as well.
My point – You do not need to be the chapter president to lead within your chapter. You must only have the desire the leave your mark and exhibit persistence to see your ideas executed.
The beauty of Fraternity is the inherent opportunity that exists for each individual to leave the organization greater than it was transmitted to him. A familiar phrase indeed.
Titles are simply words. Leadership is achieved through the actions by anyone who is compelled to take them. I’ve had the opportunity to see many Phis make wonderful strides as leaders. Some of them were chapter presidents; some were chapter officers; some had no official title or responsibilities. With the new-year rolling, there’s no better time for each Phi to resolve to lead in a positive way.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve also realized that being ‘the man in charge’ is not for everyone. I see this in myself, and I’ve learned that the best place for me as a leader is within roles that are generally out of the limelight. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, rather, it’s an understanding of my personal characteristics, strengths and weaknesses.
I recently discovered a great mobile app that can help you understand the answers to such questions as: What are your unique strengths? How do you come across to others? What are your networking strengths? What is your approach to getting things done? What kind of coworker are you? You can even see how your traits fit in with your friends or potential employers. These personal inventories and the understanding of who you are great assets to developing your leadership skills in any arena that you may be playing.
General Council President Rich Fabritius challenged each Phi to swing a heavier bat this year. It’s a simple, yet powerful analogy that is vital to the success of Phi Delta Theta. There are many ways to ‘swing this heavy bat’ for those who aren’t chapter presidents.
If you’re a chapter officer, become your chapter president’s go-to-guy. Approach him and say, “I’m here to help you and this chapter become the greatest version of itself. Here are my goals in the position and these are the actions that I’m going to take to get them done.”
If you’re an undergraduate without an official role, make one up and get at it. There are countless things that need to be done outside of the normal officer structure. Your innovation will impress others and set you up for further responsibilities. I work with a student at the Iowa Gamma (Iowa State) Chapter who loves helping others find their fit – in the chapter, on campus and in life. He took it upon himself to create his own position and now takes pride in working with others to understand themselves better. He also recommends areas within the chapter and on campus where they can succeed. I love it. Heck, become the “Director of Snow Removal” and own the parking lot and sidewalks. Have fun with it.
If you’re a Phikeia, take the time to learn about different positions and volunteer to help an officer in his role. Trust me, they won’t stop you from helping. You’ll help that officer make more progress while setting yourself up for future roles if desired.
If you’re a senior, take pride in modeling great behavior and continue to show up. Many younger Phis look up to you, and your approach will set the example for them in the future. Nobody likes the senior who only complains but doesn’t do anything about it.
2015 is going to be a great year and leadership is vital in all corners. I hope that this is the year that you make a positive impact, no matter your title.