My first semester of college has been such a year of growth and development. I thought coming into this past year, I had a good understanding of what leadership is and what it means to be a good leader. I mean, I was accepted into one of the nation’s best program for leadership students, I thought that I knew everything I needed to know about leadership. Being thrown into different situations, whether it be in the classroom or in one of my RSO’s, I have realized that there is so much more to being a leader than just holding a positions and having a title.
As part of our LAS protocol we had to be involved in at least one registered student organization (RSO) on campus. I decided over summer coming into college that I was going to go through rush week and potentially join a fraternity.
My reasons of joining one wasn’t because of what some people might think. I wasn’t interested because it would be an easy way to make friends or because of the social aspect but I wanted to get involved on campus and I wanted to grow and develop my leadership skills through learning how to cooperate with 50+ guys that I just met. There’s one leadership theory that instantly comes to mind when I think of a group of this many people with all different personalities and that would be the path-goal theory of leadership.
The path-goal theory is one that is built upon the idea of evaluating your “followers'” characteristics and personality as well as their environment/work task. Once you have a grasp of how your followers will be motivated, you select a leadership style and focus on motivational factors that help them succeed. There are four main leadership styles within this theory: Directive, Participative, Supportive, and Achievement-Oriented. I observed these types of leadership styles used throughout the fraternity used by myself as well as guys like our Eminent Archon (President) and Eminent Deputy Archon (VP).
Using directive leadership with these guys is something that is used many times when we need to get a task done without question. When we are planning a social or delegating different roles for a philanthropic event, that chairman needs to use specific instructions of what each person needs to do and how to perform each specific task. This is good for guys that just want to get the job done and do it correctly.
We also use participative leadership every time we have to vote on something. Our E-board doesn’t just make decisions by themselves sometimes, they consult the entire chapter in making choices and they make sure that everyone is participating when we do things as a chapter. This leadership style is used when you don’t just leave everything to one person or group, you include everyone and your followers that way they know that you are trying to include them.
Something that’s also very important, even for college guys, is the supportive leadership style. This style I feel is so important because for me, words are something that’s so powerful and they can motivate someone in more ways than what you would think. I personally like to use this style because it is used when the task is physically or psychologically challenging. I was a prominent leader during my first Greek Week this year. We have an event called Mock Rock at the end of the week, which is what the entire week really leads up to. It’s where each grouping of fraternities and sororities create a 10 minute dance and then perform it in front of everyone. Dancing is definitely something that isn’t in everyone’s comfort zones, so I chose to use encouraging and “supportive” words throughout the week to help different people with their confidence and I really saw that they worked harder and was more motivated and I definitely saw that in the results.
The final leadership style is what I would say is something very vital when you’re an organization on campus that wants to do the best that they can do as a group and that style is called the achievement-oriented method. I see this style used from many guys within the fraternity because we are one to always have the highest standards for ourselves. This past semester, we as Sigma Alpha Epsilon had the highest GPA out of every chapter and this is something we definitely achieved through being pushed and setting high goals. With the expectation to perform at the highest level, it sets a higher motivation for us and it gives some guys more confidence knowing that we are holding each other accountable to these standards.
Learning from my peers, my professors, my mentors, and my advisors, I have gained a better understanding of the power of leading others through passion and commitment. Since I have stepped foot onto campus, I’ve grown in so many ways as a leader. I’ve been challenged in many ways, one including learning about facilitation and stepping up in that aspect. Something I really loved learning about was the art of facilitation and how affective different ways of doing it can impact others in your group. I learned so much from our facilitation workshop as well as going through leadership safari training. Working with others is also a very important skill that was challenged in various ways throughout the year.
I had to cooperate with different personalities and adapt to the different challenges that came along with working with others. Something that I took away from having the opportunity to work with others was realizing that everyone works in a different way and people learn at different paces. Just because someone is not doing something up to your standards or they’re not doing something your way, doesn’t mean that they’re wrong, but it just displays how many different styles of leadership there are especially within a cohort of 50 student leaders.
I’ve been tested of my abilities by being looked at with the highest of standards. By being a part of the Leadership Institute, there have been many people that have guided me and mentored me in being the best leader that I can be. Knowing that I’ve learned so much in my short time of being at CMU so far makes me so excited for the upcoming years. I strive to grow even more as a leader and challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone whenever possible. Thank you CMU and the Leadership Institute for this year and for everything that is to come!