This article is written by Timothy J. Murphy, Order of the Golden Eagle, Past Chief Executive Officer, Tau Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity. The Chapter Leader’s Toolbox of Excellence is Part 2 of an 8 part series on leadership. Part one can be found here.
The Chapter Leader’s Toolbox of Excellence
Last month, we examined the difference between leadership and management, and how and when these behaviors come into play. Today, we focus on a vitally important in-depth look at the leaders themselves and identify those qualities that make them truly great leaders.
It’s no mystery that it takes a great leader to foster an organization – whether it’s a publicly-traded corporation or a TKE chapter – from good to great. As Tekes, we are striving all the time to take our chapter’s performance in key areas to greater heights. Each year, we aim to rush better, with greater results. We want to “up our game” in fun, fraternal events for our members. We adopt efficient strategies for financial management, resulting in less stress in running the actual business of the chapter. We post gains in our philanthropic endeavors, improving all the time.
Do these things just happen? Of course not. Constant positive results require great leaders, guiding the chapter towards these goals. Let’s take a closer look at the qualities of these leaders, and how you can polish your skills to become the leader you want to be.
This collection of attributes is known as the chapter leader’s “toolbox”, and is developed and improved over time. These skills seem to come naturally for some, and not as easily for others. However, people make a conscious decision to be great leaders; and all Fraters who make that choice will take great pleasure in developing these qualities. So, let’s take a peek into that toolbox, and see what’s in it.
Great chapter leaders exhibit these traits:
- They are Member-Centered, not Self-Centered. From formulating the social calendar to the recruitment and retention strategy, their number one care is for the membership. They are constantly asking themselves these questions: “How can we make our programs and services more convenient for our members? How can we make our offerings more exciting and inspiring? How do we keep the fraters having a terrific chapter and fraternity experience?” To these leaders, it’s all about the happiness and welfare of the members, and members always come first.
- They have an “In-Check Ego”. Having a healthy ego isn’t a bad thing; in fact, all great leaders all have pretty good egos. It drives them to perform, and they achieve great satisfaction – and the ego gets fed – when the chapter excels. However, great leaders always make sure they don’t personally take credit for chapter excellence, or act like that success wouldn’t have happened without them.
- They are Stewards of Chapter Resources. They approach money management very conservatively; allocate funds according to the official policies of the chapter and the International Fraternity; and oversee the financial health of the chapter at all times. Many times, these can be challenging tasks, but great leaders know how to communicate financial policies to the members and enforce them equitably and fraternally.
- They Create Consensus. Simply stated, creating consensus is getting the membership to collectively agree that a proposal, strategy, or program is good for the chapter, and they should make this new idea come to life. The opposite of this is “dictating” what’s going to happen, and that attitude is never appreciated by the fraters. When a leader creates consensus, the members embrace new ideas as though they were originally their own.
- They are absolutely and without question trustworthy at their core. These types of leaders are incapable of being dishonest or deceitful, and they’ll tell the truth, even if that truth is difficult for them or someone else. They project a sense of integrity, and their character is beyond reproach.
- They have a calming effect – even in a crisis. These leaders are a stabilizing force and are especially effective in calming high emotions or excitability in a crisis situation. They offer comfort, solutions, and logic instead of angst; they bring information and fraternal discussion to heated debates. In essence, they are able to calm the occasional “rough seas”.
- They are “Human Magnets”. People just generally want to be around them, and they’ll always have a conversation group at a social event. They have a good sense of humor, can make people laugh; they get others to talk about themselves, and seldom need to be the center of attention. They are charismatic, and their energy is outwardly-focused on others. They make those around them feel important and liked.
- They play No Power Games…ever. This caliber of leader doesn’t think of his position or office as a place of “power”, and would never try to influence someone else using that status. They don’t “throw their weight around” in order to get their way. They don’t view elected office as a symbol of status or superiority; rather, it is an opportunity to serve their fellow members.
- They don’t just lead and manage well; they help create the “TKE Experience”. These leaders instill in their fellow members an emotional response when they think of TKE. They are able to do this because they put on display – 24/7 – the ideals of charity, esteem, and love; and people know they’re genuine. As such, they bring out in their fellow fraters those same ideals and behaviors, making their membership most meaningful.
Leaders who possess these qualities are essential to guiding your chapter towards the goals and strategies it needs to be successful. And don’t worry if you don’t feel like you “have what it takes” to be a great leader. You probably do; you’ve likely just never been tested before.
In addition to service to TKE, seek out leadership opportunities with other campus organizations that interest you, for seeing other leadership models helps you hone your skills more fully. Remember, few if any fraters were born with superior leadership skills. Start your leadership journey when you’re called upon, and you will build your own toolbox of excellence, and be amazed at how you’ve grown.