Participating in organizations and activities is one of the most memorable aspects about college for many students. It is in those groups that students can explore additional interests, get to know and work with new people, and create opportunities for growth and service. A good number of students will take on some sort of leadership position in an organization. Perhaps they volunteer for a committee or to help with a special event. Maybe they run for a board position. Maybe they become the group President or Chair. Maybe they founded the group, or the group is relatively small such that everyone involved has some sort of leadership role.
While taking on the responsibilities of leadership is a wonderful way to develop a well-rounded set of skills, it requires awareness - of self and others - to be most effective. It’s easy to slip into a pattern of mediocrity and underperformance, even when what seems like an excellent leadership board has all the best intentions. People get busy with classes or distracted with other things, or simply neglect the basics and fail to get things done. Here are a few keys to keep in mind as you consider, embark upon, or continue your student organization leadership career.
Communication. People have to be on the same page to work together. Make time for everyone to connect (and make sure people are actually there), get input from others, and set clear, achievable expectations that that entire board or group is aware of.
Delegation. You can’t do everything yourself. When you try to, you stretch yourself too thin, and you deny other students the opportunity to more deeply connect with the group via shared responsibilities.
Vision. Spend time thinking big: How can your organization be the best?
Focus/Follow-through. After a meeting, when action items are set, get them done. If you’ve delegated, then now you need to manage and ensure follow through. If you have tasks to complete, finish them asap and let the team know they are done.
Collaboration. If your campus has many groups, you should think about working with them as often as possible. This spreads the workload and expands the reach.
Marketing. What does your website or flyer say about your group? Do people on campus know about all the things you’ve accomplished and have in store? Tell them!
History. Does your website list past members or major events? Do new group members know about the founding and purpose of the organization? Do you know your group’s story?
Transition. Keep your constitution up to date, ensure new board members are properly informed of their role’s expectations (and how to get these requirements done). Set the next leadership team up for success.
Reflection. Spend time analyzing what’s working and what’s not. Speak with others - board members, friends, mentors. And do not be afraid to make bold changes after critical thought.
Student. As a student leader, you are a student first. Study leadership to grow in your organizational role, but continue to prioritize your work in the classroom to thrive overall on campus.