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How to Be Effective as the Chapter Prytanis

Leading a TKE Chapter calls for the deployment of some rather special resources on the part of the Prytanis.

For one thing, the Chapter Prytanis is a leader of equals. Sometimes, he may even find himself having to exercise leadership in a situation where some of the Fraters are, in fact, superior to him in seniority, knowledge and skill. This is all the more reason for the Prytanis to have his Chapter’s goals accomplished through influence and persuasion, not instruction and direction. An effective Prytanis will find that he must be sensitive to the feelings of his Fraters. Feelings sometimes erupt but are often suppressed behind the mask of civility and protocol. A safe but not easy rule to follow is to attempt to evaluate to the best of one’s ability how Fraters are likely to not only think about one’s opinions and decisions, but also how they are likely to feel about them. This calls for sensitivity, empathy, tact, and patience.

A leader in a voluntary and democratic organization such as TKE must be certain that the needs of the members are fulfilled in the activities undertaken, whether at meetings or in projects. It is often too easy to believe that the leader’s view, however well-intentioned, is shared by the Chapter. In the final analysis, a leader’s job is threefold-to get the projects of the Chapter accomplished through joint effort, to satisfy the needs of the individual member, and to fulfill his own needs. However, any one or two of these cannot be satisfied at the expense of the remainder. For the best results, all three must be simultaneously accomplished.

The successful Prytanis does not live in isolation. He maintains personal contact with his members. He endeavors, by maintaining open relationships, to get the kind of feedback so vital to keep a Chapter on its correct course. He becomes a good listener and cultivates the art of dialogue.

Furthermore, a Prytanis can be most effective if he uses the processes of consultation and participation in decision-making. Sharing authority, while accepting ultimate responsibility, will help develop that sense of cooperation so essential to successful TKE operations.

The Prytanis is the number one man of his Chapter. His thoughts, attitudes, and behavior set the tone for the Chapter. If he is enthusiastic, it is likely that the Fraters will be enthusiastic. If he is apathetic, it is equally likely that the Fraters will be apathetic. Remember-apathy is as catching as enthusiasm.

In truth, it has been said that leadership is not a title, a crown, a mantle, or a bag of tricks. Leadership has to be earned-earned by acquiring the respect, trust, and cooperation of the members.

A Prytanis will do well to remember that democratic leadership is accomplished in a setting of consent, consensus, collaboration, and confidence.

Office of Prytanis

As Prytanis of your Chapter, you assume an important and responsible office. To carry out your many and varied duties, you should become familiar with the many manuals and other materials which are available to you.

Remember that you are in office to exercise initiative and leadership which will serve your Chapter, as well as govern it. You will be called upon to constantly oversee the Chapter officers and committees and be a leader in determining the policies of your Chapter.

The welfare of the Chapter is in your hands. With honesty, courage, and common sense, you can be successful in maintaining the esteem of your Fraters.

Developing Leadership

As Prytanis, you will want to adopt a philosophy and a leadership style where you will have both a great concern for your own personal growth and well being and, at the same time, have an awareness of, sensitivity to, and genuine regard for the needs and identities of your members.

As you develop your own leadership style, you may wish to remind yourself of your goals by adopting a statement similar to the following: I will treat my Fraters with the same human dignity and consideration which I have an absolute right to expect myself.

Becoming an Effective Leader

So how does one become an effective leader? Simply by helping the uninvolved grow and experience a sense of belonging and contributing to the Fraternity. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Since it is difficult to lead a Chapter in a direction it may not want to go, it is essential that you get clear feedback on what the members want. The best way to accomplish this is in a Chapter retreat. During the retreat, break the Chapter into small groups to address issues raised by the members.
  • Get as many members involved on committees as possible.