When a member takes on a leadership role in a chapter, it is often because they see something within that role that they can improve upon. New leaders will bring fresh new ideas and different leadership styles to their chapter. Sororities come with many historic practices and beloved traditions, both on an inter/national and local chapter level. Anytime someone wants to make changes to long-standing practices, whether they are a tradition or just a habit, it can be daunting. However, these new ideas and changes are vital to ensuring the longevity and success of our organizations.
Identifying a Need
When taking on a new leadership role, whether formally or informally, it is important to evaluate your role as it currently exists. When transitioning into a formal role, be sure to ask questions to determine what might have worked well in previous years. Ask the outgoing officeholder if they have received any feedback on previous meetings or events that could be helpful during your term. It is also important to remember to trust your own judgment. If there was something you had previously identified as needing additional attention, focus in on that and ask follow up questions. Some sample questions to ask:
1. What is something new you would like to see out of (event)?
2. What were your goals initially coming into the role?
3. If you could change anything about this role what would it be and why?
The answers to these questions may not be exactly what you want to focus on when stepping in, but they will provide you with an idea of what momentum may already exist so you do not need to start from scratch.
Set aside time to focus specifically on what your goals will be. Write them down somewhere that you can look back at them. Try to balance your list, not every goal needs to be big, small changes can create great momentum within an organization. Once you have a list of goals, start brainstorming ways to reach them. If possible, write out steps you think you might need to take before reaching the eventual end. At first, some changes can seem overwhelming, breaking things down into smaller steps will help things seem more manageable.
Once you have set goals and have an idea on how you plan to reach them, start seeking feedback from your fellow collegians. Start small by asking smaller groups such as a leadership team or a committee. Try to listen to feedback first without sharing your thoughts. Change can feel uncomfortable and shocking, and proposing it can stir up our emotions. Be prepared to hear concerns and constructive criticism and take notes, but do not immediately become discouraged. Once you have gathered feedback, return to your initial goals and plans and ask yourself follow up questions:
1. Were there any ideas shared that you can incorporate into your plan?
2. Are there any major concerns you had not previously considered?
3. If so, what can you do to try and address those concerns?
See if there is room for improvement in your ideas and make adjustments where you see fit. As you collect feedback you will be able to anticipate potential problems or member concerns and address them beforehand. The more feedback you get, the more likely your changes will be well received by the chapter and supported when the time comes to implement them, even if you cannot take everything into consideration.
The most important thing to remember while pursuing change, is to trust yourself. Receiving member input is an important step, but remember to be the leader that you already are. Now that you have made a plan and sought additional perspectives, you are ready to move forward and try something new. Whether you were elected or appointed, or just want to see something different in your chapter, you are fully capable of making a lasting impact.