Phi Delta Theta recently surveyed outgoing chapter presidents and asked for a piece of advice to pass along to new chapter presidents. The response was incredible, and we hope much can be learned from the advice below.
Leave time to focus on yourself.
Learn as much as you can from your alumni.
Reports are important, chapter meetings are important, paperwork is important, BUT the most important thing is brotherhood. You can’t make it happen, it has to come organically from other brothers bonding and connecting. Give them that opportunity whether it’s a group dinner, lunch, pick-up sports etc., and let the magic happen! Don’t push it, but just extend the invitation with a smile!
Set goals early and keep the bar high.
“This is the way we’ve always done it” is an excuse used by single-minded people.
Take time for yourself. If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of the chapter.
Enjoy the little things.
Lead by example and practice what you preach.
Separate fraternity and friendship when making decisions.
Be accountable for yourself and all of your brothers. If you tell someone that you are going to do something, stay true to your word and do it.
Do not focus on those people in the chapter who may not be showing up to meetings as much as those that you know have potential. As a leader you cannot turn every person into a leader.
Always have a pulse on all the chapter functions so you won’t be blindsided by anything.
Actively prevent and speak against things that are risky. Don’t be silent.
Be strong in your communications. Make an effort to communicate effectively with your CAB.
At the end of the day, it’s just a group of college kids. Make sure to keep your cool even when you are getting frustrated.
Be aware of all GHQ, IFC, and university rules and risk management policies.
Be prepared to say no to some of the guys in the chapter and do the responsible thing instead of the fun thing. Make the hard decision instead of the easy one.
This position is going to be taxing. Know that you’re doing your best and don’t be afraid to rely on others around you (CAB and your exec). Delegation is key.
Always be communicating, especially with less involved members about what can be done better.
Be yourself. Communication is key.
Being a leader isn’t easy. Criticism and praise will be given no matter what you decide to do. It’s what you do with the feedback you receive and how you continue to improve your chapter. In the end have the best intentions no matter what and look to truly become the greatest version of yourself and strive for your chapter to do the same.
Believe in yourself. You need to be able to say no and put your foot down.
Communication is key. It is vital to stay in touch with your CAB, province president, and leadership consultant. In addition, be sure to be open and honest with your members as to what is going on with the Fraternity.
Divide key responsibilities among brothers with strong leadership early on. This promotes growth on their part and keeps any one strong leader from burning out. Have deliverable (reports, events, newsletters, meetings) due for key positions on set dates or intervals of time (weekly, by-weekly, monthly).
Do not procrastinate and follow the chapter greatness checklist.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from anyone.
Don’t do everything yourself. Find your core officers who you can trust and have them help you a lot. Also, be positive, your attitude is what makes everyone else’s attitudes.
Don’t worry about pleasing everyone. Instead, worry about improving yourself and the Fraternity like you know you should.
Don’t get bogged down with everyone’s complaints. They are adults and can deal with it themselves.
Don’t let the opinions or traditions of the chapter keep you from making the right decision.
Don’t procrastinate and make sure your VP is doing his job.
Don’t take on too much too quickly. You have an executive board that is there to help you.
You have the power to do great things as president. Don’t doubt your abilities. You were elected because people saw something in you.
Focus on yourself and show other positions how to do their jobs instead of doing it for them.
Follow the values of the Fraternity and you will never be misguided.
Follow your gut and make sure to value everyone’s opinion.
Give people the benefit of the doubt and a few chances. Be firm but fair. Follow through on commitments.
Hard work and preparation are essential for running an effective and smooth chapter meeting. YOU and your executive board set the tone for the entire organization. Make it a positive tone of unity not division.
Don’t be afraid to make people upset. Focus on making this chapter better, not making everyone happy.
Have as many individual conversations as you can.
Lead by example. People will follow you when they see you backing up your word. And stay positive. Turn what looks like setbacks into opportunities.
Learn to be political. You could be objectively correct, but if your ideas are unwieldy, you will get nowhere.
Listen to all your members. Be willing to reach out to them to get some input on how they think the chapter is doing.
Most people in the chapter look out for themselves. You have to look for the betterment of the chapter.
Never be afraid to ask for help (even when you think no one else cares), and don’t try to do everyone else’s job.
Pay attention to your chapter and member needs.
Set a calendar and book venues before the semester even starts.
Set the tone early. Make it apparent that you are in charge but be willing to listen to others.
Lean on the most recent president for advice, and don’t get too worried if at the beginning you feel lost.
Stay on top of things early and stay organized. Once you get behind it’s hard to catch up.
Stay organized and don’t procrastinate.
Supporting the active members of your chapter should always be your first priority.
Take time to yourself and let the officer positions work for you.
The external side of the job is arguably more important than the internal. Being respected by your chapter matters a lot, but if people outside the chapter don’t respect your opinions and know who you are, your whole chapter will suffer.
Thicken your skin and have 4-5 people to turn to always.
Always remember that you are the face and should carry yourself with respect. Be completely transparent with the information you receive.
Trust your gut and remember that you serve the chapter.
Work closely with the executive board and stay on top of everything.
You have to command respect. It will be hard to yell at your closer friends, but they will respect you more in the long run.
You were elected for a reason so don’t doubt yourself.
Sometimes the right decision isn’t the most popular one.