Collegiate View: Dear Leader

Allison Photo 2Allison Harris
Gamma Nu (University of Virginia)
President 2013-2014

Growing up, I always found a great group of friends through sports. Playing soccer and basketball in high school allowed me to find my place and develop close friendships through countless hours with teammates. I stopped playing sports when I came to college. Upon entering sorority recruitment, I hoped to find a new kind of team, but I didn’t realize I would eventually gain much more. I was given the opportunity to lead my chapter as President when I was elected halfway through my third year.

The leadership experience I have obtained through my positions in ZTA has been invaluable. I have learned about myself and developed into a more effective leader in the process. As a new officer, you may be feeling excited and overwhelmed about the road ahead. Here are a few lessons I learned during my term as President that may help you jumpstart the new year:

  1. The key to being a successful leader is respect. First, you must respect yourself. Take pride in the way you behave and be conscious of the way you present yourself to others. In doing so, you will not only be respectable, but you will also be a role model. Second, always respect others. From National Council, advisors and Traveling Leadership Consultants to your Executive Committee, Program Council and general members, treat others the way you want to be treated. This will allow you to build mutual respect and develop meaningful relationships. People will be more invested in working toward a common goal and more likely to lend a helping hand.
  2. Keep an open mind. Given your leadership role, it is easy to assume you know what is best for your chapter, but the truth is you might not always be right. With ever changing situations and varying circumstances, identifying the best solution is not always a simple task. Work with other officers, advisors and members to brainstorm creative and effective solutions.
  3. Delegate tasks and trust other leaders. Personally, I tend to be somewhat of a control freak and a perfectionist at times. During my time as President, I was pretty ambitious. I had a lot of ideas for what I wanted to see our chapter accomplish. I soon realized I would fail if I attempted to do everything on my own. From sisterhood and philanthropy events to chapter meetings, one person can only accomplish so much. I had to lean on my Executive Committee, Program Council and chapter advisors. At times you may be overwhelmed and stressed, but you are not alone. Many people want to see your chapter succeed. As you delegate responsibilities, members will feel needed and become invested in the organization.
  4. Be a sister to all. I remember once joining a new soccer team and not feeling welcome. I was uncomfortable around my new teammates, which made me less excited to attend practices, games and team events. Making a friend on the team transformed my experience. Get to know as many people as possible, and let them know they have a friend. You will gain a better understanding of your chapter, which is imperative as an officer and will help you select the next best leaders for each position, plan events, and most importantly, give your members what they are looking for in a sorority.
  5. Always, always say thank you. Whether you’re working with chapter members, other officers, advisors or National Officers, remember to thank everyone for their assistance. Smooth operations require cooperation from many different individuals. It is important to recognize all of the help you receive and to be appreciative. Giving thanks will show others you are grateful for their help, and in return, they will be more likely to help again in the future.

I hope these tips help you find success in your leadership position. As a leader, you have the opportunity to develop your own Zeta team. Reach out to your members, trust your fellow leaders, listen with open ears and respect all. Remember to be thankful, and you will build an undefeatable team.

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You’re a new officer! Now what? 9 ways to rock the beginning of your term

Congratulations on being elected or appointed in a ZTA officer role! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish this year.

Now that you are in place, what do you do next? Get going with these top ways to rock the first 90 days of your term. Take notes and check each one off as you go. You’ll be ready to start your year with a bang!

1. Get to know your officer role inside and out by doing your homework. Read the manuals, guides and resources available to you. So much can be found on the Sisters Only site under officer resources.

2. Meet or talk with those whom you will be working with, like advisors, National Officers, other chapter officers or committee members, faculty/staff members and/or vendors. Learn about each other and bounce your ideas off of them. You might just become best friends!

3. Build teamwork as an Executive Committee or Program Council. Play games, get to know each other and find ways to collaborate and cross-program.

4. Get organized by creating your own binder and files. Create a calendar for the year ahead and highlight and color-code important deadlines and events. Check out the Sisters Only site for your resources if you haven’t already!

5. Dream of what you could accomplish as a new officer and create a clear vision. Members want to follow leaders who can dream beyond the chapter’s current challenges and clearly articulate a brighter vision of the future.

6. Brainstorm new ideas for your office. Think about creative solutions before immediately going with your first idea. Don’t get stuck with what your chapter has already done. Be bold!

7. Listen to other members and see what ideas they have for your officer role. Talk one-on-one or send out a quick survey online. What would they change about your office or the programs you plan? This is valuable feedback to make your year successful.

8. Make SMART goals for the year by using this tool. It will help you set personal goals and set up the steps to achieve them

9. Spring into action by working your plan. Nothing will happen unless you DO something!

Bonus! Do an officer photo shoot as sisterhood bonding. Find tons of ideas of concepts on the ZTA Pinterest Page. Create your very own signature move.