by Matt Mattson
Sometimes it feels like there is so much OUT OF YOUR CONTROL as a fraternity/sorority leader. Sometimes it feels like history, tradition, higher powers, bureaucracy, or any number of other things are keeping today’s fraternity/sorority leaders from creating the future they crave.
I believe you can take control. I believe you can create the future you imagine for sororities and fraternities.
Let me explain and hopefully give you a practical framework to approach your time as a leader.
I believe there are three questions every sorority/fraternity chapter, council, community, and inter/national organization must answer with absolute clarity and certainty. If answered, these three questions will fuel your ability to take control. These three questions will help you see the way forward.
Who are we for?
What are we about?
How do we treat each other?
WHO ARE WE FOR? The people we attract, select, and secure for membership in our organizations (and how we do that) will determine our future. They will either be a distraction and a liability, or they will be our greatest asset. We are built from our parts. We must decide on smart ways to ensure that only the right people are attracted, selected, and secured for membership. We can make our organizations significantly safer and healthier if we make clear WHO WE ARE FOR. We can make the choice to open our doors only to people who are mature enough to handle the responsibility of membership. Here’s a resource to help you think through your answer to this question.
WHAT ARE WE ABOUT? We must be about more than cliché tropes like “leadership, scholarship, service, and brotherhood/sisterhood.” Today’s students are demanding a clear return on investment. Today’s (and tomorrow’s) students want worldly, cause-focused, impact-driving opportunities for involvement. And your current members will find empowerment and pride in clear direction, purpose, and differentiation. What are you about? Where are you going? Are you an organization with a mission, or are you an organization on a mission? How can you ensure that all of your efforts are aligned with your answers to these questions? Here’s a resource to help you think through this even more (with a fun video included).
HOW DO WE TREAT EACH OTHER? The little things add up to the big things. Do your members encourage each other and lift each other up? Or is yours a culture of snark, and jabs, and cutting each other down (even if just for fun). Do you talk about important stuff every once in a while, or is it always pop culture, sports, and fun stuff? Do your members show up on time? Do your members dress up for meeting? Do your members take the small rules and responsibilities seriously or not? It’s your culture, make it what you want… but remember the little things add up to the big things. What jokes are okay? What comments are tolerated? What do you allow, and therefore endorse (whether actively or passively)? What are the non-negotiable cultural norms you, as a leader, are naming and reinforcing?
As a fraternity/sorority leader, it can seem like there are a million things you could focus on. I want to encourage you to focus only on these three. I believe these are the three most pressing and powerful questions a leader of one of our organizations can answer to create the future of fraternity/sorority life.
I can tell you one thing… answering these three questions as the leader of a company has been transformational. Our company found its footing when we leaned into these three simple questions. This is relevant far beyond running a chapter… these questions can help you direct your leadership for the rest of your life (and career).