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Words of Wisdom from Past Chapter Presidents


The following quotes came from a document found in the Fraternity’s files.  We are assuming that these words were gathered at a past Presidents Leadership Conference.

Treat others as you would like to be treated.

Always tell your officers how they are doing.  Tell them they’re doing a bad job if they are doing a bad job, and tell them they’re doing a good job if they are doing a good job.  Either way, it will improve the chapter.

Listen to your brothers.  They are the chapter, and you represent them.

The less you actually do, the better you are probably doing.

Don’t burn yourself out with trivial tasks.  Give those to someone who cannot contribute as much now.

Have everyone in the chapter fill out a note card with 3 ideas — things to change, things to start, things to stop, etc and their name. Compile that list, add your own. Pick a select few of these and see them through. Give the rest to whoever may follow you. You already know who to ask for help or who to lead up the project if the idea came from their card.

Have a sheet of paper in front of you at chapter meeting that says “ARE WE ON TASK?”

Don’t have brainstorming sessions in chapter, just vote between options. This should help keep chapter meetings under one hour (with a few exceptions like elections).

Delegate, delegate, delegate. This was a big problem I had at first, trying to take on more then I could handle.

Being President doesn’t make friends….get used to it.  You have a job to do.  Don’t be swayed from your official charge by people who don’t love Phi Delta Theta as much as you do.

You can never give too much credit or give out too many awards for members that make a difference. It doesn’t have to be something outstanding, just something that someone went the extra mile for.

Positive chapter morale starts with you.

Value every member/Phikeia’s ideas and opinions.

Tradition starts with doing something the same for two years. However, it also ends with not doing something for one year.

Make your officers look good by helping them with projects and giving them the credit. You will get enough credit as president, be sure to share some of it.

When things go wrong, don’t be afraid to take the blame. Don’t play the blame game.

If you are not pissing people off, you are not doing your job.

Always set goals, and it’s often helpful to create a mission statement for your chapter to follow.

If you commit… follow through, and follow through, and follow through. Sometimes everyone will not understand what it means to be accountable as a member, or as an officer, so it’s important to facilitate new members (or new officers) on how to follow through.

Accountability is a very abstract term.  But, if you can define it with your active members, and dissect it with your chapter officers, everyone will have a clearer idea on how to achieve your goals as a chapter.

Patience. Often a chapter president is a member who has been active in the chapter for a few years (seniors or juniors). It’s easy to grow impatient with younger members who don’t understand what it means to commit to a position. As you grow older its important to remember that they will make as many or even more mistakes than you, and to be patient while they learn from those mistakes.

Don’t carry the weight of the entire chapter on your shoulders or it will drive you into the ground.

As a leader be confident in your decisions, but don’t be hasty or rash. It’s your position as the President to carefully and constructively make a decision for the well being of your chapter.  Don’t make personal agendas that no one will agree with.

The morale of a leader is often reflected through those whom they follow. If you portray the face of success, improvement, and high spirits, the chapter will have the same attitude.

Leadership is not dictated; it is both delegated, and demonstrated. As the President, I cannot expect my officers to perform well without having laid-out to them my expectations for achievement. Individuals cannot be held responsible for expectations that have not been clearly articulated. I have found it advantageous to explain to each officer what I expect from them and how their individual jobs impact the fraternity as a whole. The desire to do well is increased when an individual understands how his job impacts others.

Perhaps the most effective method of ensuring leadership is to set the example. Having taught leadership skills to Boy Scouts for the past 7 years, I am reminded of a quote from Robert Baden-Powell:  ”You lead entirely by your own personal example; its not the best way to ensure success, but the ONLY way.”

Leading by example is the best method to ensure both cooperation and achievement among officers and members. Why should members do something that the leader himself is not willing to do? By setting the standard and being the “flag waver,” a President inspires leadership, raises morale, and ensures the successful and enthusiastic passing of our Fraternity to future members.

Delegate through clear expectations.  Hold leaders accountable and always set the example.

Each position is a learning process, especially for the president.  If you make a mistake, fix it instead of hiding it; take responsibility instead of blaming; and hold your head high.  It will speak volumes of your leadership.

Delegate. Let your own members learn from their mistakes, it will increase both morale and growth in your chapter.

Be fair to yourself and each member of your chapter.

It is your turn to LEAD.  Do so with confidence and integrity and your members will follow.

Make each member feel part of the chapter.  You are not only the CEO but also the counselor and mediator between bothers.

Read The Bond, the Constitution, the General Statutes, and your chapter bylaws until you have a clear understanding of each.

Ritual will only be taken as serious as you take it.

A favorite leadership quote of mine:
“A leader takes people where they want to go.  A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”  -Rosalynn Carter

Understand your Greek community and college campus. Without that you will never know how to grow as a chapter.

Get members involved in other organizations on campus.  It’s a great way to recruit more members and become a strong chapter.

Understand that a fraternity is a business and a brotherhood.  The only way to perpetuate the brotherhood and the chapter is by investing in the business.

Some guys are great brothers and some are great friends, but sometimes-great friends are terrible brothers.

Be strong as president of your chapter. Stand tall in the face of adversity because your job is to do what is best for the chapter and to take responsibility for that decision.

Trust your officers.  If you don’t, you will end up doing everything and get burnt out.

Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut.

Always reserve time for yourself away from the Fraternity to recuperate from the stress.

Take charge of your meetings.  If people feel like they can run right over you, they will.

Take full advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.

Always keep your brothers informed of what is happening on campus, even if they don’t want to participate.

Always set the example. You are a role model.

When in doubt, don’t.

If you have the opportunity to sleep on a decision, do.

A quick fix is not necessarily the best or appropriate fix.

Listen, Listen, Listen the answer is closer than you think.

Always maintain an open door policy, especially when working with Executive

When handling the press, “no comment” looks worse than a comment.  However, be selective, wise, and brief when giving a statement.