By Steve Good – Director of Communications & Iron Phi
A few years ago, I became a fraternity adviser again by accepting the Chapter Advisory Board Chairman role for the Iowa Gamma Chapter at Iowa State University. The role itself is both rewarding and challenging. Like anything in life, fraternity chapters have their ups and downs. From giving praise and lighthearted debates to tough conversations and holding the students accountable, each day is a new adventure. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Through this experience, I’ve come to realize how important creating a mentality of greatness is to the long-term health of a fraternity. I’ve also realized that achieving this mentality is extremely tough. This has nothing to do with the quality of student within the chapter, as I’m fortunate to work with great students. Proof. It does, however, have everything to do with the simple fact that everyone has their own definition of what greatness is, and to reach collective greatness, each individual definition must be flexible.
At Phi Delta Theta, we challenge our members to “Become the Greatest Version of Yourself.” Personally, I love it, because it empowers each individual member to find his own personal greatness and encourages uniqueness over conformity. For a chapter to become the greatest version of itself, the path is a little more difficult, as the chapter’s people must first determine just what the heck greatness means to the group.
If you ask an undergraduate Phi, alumnus, chapter advisory board member, house corporation board member and GHQ staff member what Phi Delt greatness is, you’re going to get responses with variability. It makes great sense as the metrics that these audiences use to define greatness may be different based on age, priorities, knowledge, roles and responsibilities.
A chapter accomplishes the greatness mentality when it takes time to get all audiences together to compare definitions and find that Venn diagram sweet spot. While metrics may be different, odds are, there are strong principles or philosophies that congregate in the middle and will lead to a shared mentality of greatness.
Does creating the greatness mentality by itself make a chapter great? No, but it can be the guiding light to getting there. The only proof of greatness is results.
Below are a few examples of how the greatness mentality works and a metric that can be used to prove your greatness in that area.
Average Mentality – “Our chapter GPA should be above the All-Men’s or All-Fraternity average.”
Greatness Mentality – “We should actively help our members find the right majors for them, and our chapter GPA should rival the top sorority GPA on campus.”
Proof – An ever-increasing GPA as compared to your past performance.
Campus Involvement:Average Mentality – “We encourage our members to join student organizations on campus.”
Greatness Mentality – “We expect our members to lead student organizations on campus.”
Proof – Increasing the percentage of your members in leadership roles on campus outside of Phi Delt.
Recruitment:Average Mentality – “Let’s recruit enough guys to fill the house or get above the fraternity average on campus.”
Greatness Mentality – “How do we get to the point where the best guys show up on campus wanting to be Phi Delts?”
Proof: Dollars spent per new member recruited. Over time, this number should go down as people come to you. Think about Harvard University. They do much more selecting than recruiting.
Alumni:Average Mentality – “I was a Phi Delt in college and enjoy meeting up with my contemporaries at the Homecoming game.”
Greatness Mentality – “I am a Phi Delt and take great pride in continually enhancing the chapter through my time, talents, mentorship and treasure.”
Proof – Increasing number of alumni mentors, active alumni advisers, alumni donations for campaigns, internships/jobs landed through Phi connections, % of good email/mailing addresses.
Philanthropy/Service:Average Mentality – “Let’s create an annual event that is recognizable on campus.”
Greatness Mentality – “Let’s make the greatest impact for our cause with the dollars that we raise and the hours that we serve.”
Proof – Increasing $ raised/member, service hours/member, # of hours of education about the cause, and a decreasing cost/$ raised.
To recap, to create a mentality of greatness within your chapter and to prove to others that you are achieving it:
Realize that each person defines greatness differently.
Bring all chapter entities together to compare definitions of greatness.
Identify the commonalities in definitions and shift mindsets to create the ideal mentality for how the chapter wants to achieve greatness in each area.
Get to work
Track your results each year and compare them to where you started.