This month's guest blogger is Shane McGoey, Ph.D., Executive Director of Theta Phi Alpha. This article was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of The Compass.
For those who attended this summer's National Convention, you know there was a wealth of information shared to help better Theta Phi Alpha nationally, as well as improve chapter operations. One of the many presentations Convention attendees participated in was regarding a new Member Development Program, presented by Karyn Nishimura Sneath.
In Karyn's presentation, she presented a relational leadership model authored by Drs. Komives, Lucas, and McMahon (Exploring Leadership for College Students Who Want to Make a Difference, Jossey-Bass, 1998), all of whom are graduate professors who teach and conduct research on issues pertaining to student affairs and leadership. The model utilizes an acronym, I-PEEP, which stands for Inclusiveness, Purposeful, Ethical, Empowering, and Process. As leaders on your campus and in your chapters, you may have heard your Fraternity/Sorority Advisor or other administrators talk about this model.
As I listened to Karyn's presentation, I began to wonder if any of our chapters were aware of this model, how we could ensure that each felt comfortable with the model, and what each delegate thought of utilizing the model in the new Member Development Program. Below, I pose some rhetorical questions for you to consider. Use the questions to see where you are utilizing the relational model.
Inclusiveness. As leaders on your campuses and in your chapters, it falls upon each of you to ensure that the Theta Phi Alpha experience is inclusive. This helps your chapter by using the talents and skills of each individual to benefit the greater good – in this case, your chapter. This includes both internal and external stakeholders and utilizing each to help your chapter grow and develop.
Think about how you presently achieve this in your chapter. Can you think of ways to improve? How often does the chapter have frank discussions about this? In what ways can you see the chapter being more inclusive?
Purposeful. We all think that we are purposeful when we are able to "check something off" our to-do list. In this particular area, however, being purposeful means something more. It's up to each of you to think about whether your goals are strategically aligned in a way that fosters improvement in your chapter in incremental, sustainable steps. Often times, our goals may seem to be at odds with other goals. Taking the time to critically examine things will help bring goals in alignment with each other.
In your chapter or executive board meetings, do you take time to think how one decision could impact future decisions? Do you consider things pertaining to your chapter in the moment as things occur or do you take time for thoughtful consideration about how decisions will benefit the chapter membership in the future? Maybe even after you have graduated?
Ethical. Sometimes individuals make mistakes. As an organization, Theta Phi Alpha espouses certain values that each member is to uphold. Ensuring that members are ethical in their behavior, understanding the difference between right and wrong, and appreciating the notion of being accountable for a greater good is what each chapter is expected to do when educating its members.
Members who behave badly or do something that is antithetical to the values of Theta Phi Alpha should be educated and mentored by members through modeling good behavior and communication that does not leave room for any doubt pertaining to what is expected of each member. Only in severe cases should it be necessary to suspend or remove a member.
In what ways does your chapter hold members accountable? How do you ensure that a member, who may not be living up to the values, is able to change their behavior to align with the membership's expectations?
Empowering. People learn by doing. Empowering others is one of the values that all fraternal organizations strongly believe. Theta Phi Alpha is no different. Empowerment should be a keystone of your chapter's membership development program. Empowering others leads to maturity, increased responsibility, and improved sustainability of your chapter.
How do you empower each member to become involved to offer their talent and skills for the greater good of Theta Phi Alpha on your campus? Nationally?
Process. Leadership is a process. It is a journey that continues over time, throughout your life. Establishing processes ensures the legacy of your chapter. It facilitates the understanding of expectations of membership and sets clear what you believe to be right and wrong.
Do you revisit your processes regularly to see if they continue to work properly or do you use the excuse, “We've always done it this way. . .?” Once you have achieved success, do you relax and rest on your laurels or do you take time to recognize your achievement and then look at what ways you can still improve?
I pose the above questions to facilitate a discussion occurring in each chapter. I hope you take the time this year to have discussions and look at your membership development program differently as you educate your members. The new member education program will be a great resource for you and your chapter when it is completely developed. But with all things, it will need to be constantly improved upon to remain relevant to future members. Your input will help us achieve that!