Over the past few weeks, I have listened and maintained a compiled list of things my peers have complained about when it came to the organizations they are apart of. In addition to leadership training and working under community leaders from Chattanooga, I have taken note of common of issues that may hinder an organization’s success. Whether you are the president of an organization or a member, there are certain things that should be consistent across an organization, regardless of what position you hold. Keeping these tips in mind will help any organization run more smoothly and maximize its impact.
Timing is Key!
If you want people to show up for an event or meeting, tell them in a timely manner. You can not expect a big turnout if you only promote your event the day of. Likewise, you can not expect all of your board members to attend a pop-up board meeting. Every person on this campus has a busy schedule that they are changing and constructing in ways that fit their wants and needs. Therefore, you should bring awareness to your events ahead of time so that people can properly adjust their schedules and attend.
Know your board and their strengths and restrictions
As a leader in any organization, you should take time to get to know your members and what their day to day life looks like. You should be aware when a member has several midterms that week or when is a good time to meet without interfering with other needs like office hours. Encourage your board to keep an open dialogue and offer time slots for members who may not be able to attend a full event. Additionally, it is important to recognize your members’ strengths. Every member does not have to be apart of every event if their strengths are not utilized.
An effective way that this can be applied is keeping a document that everyone has access to where members can write times and reasons why they may not be able to attend an event. The document can also be a resource to see what tests or midterms will affect your board, members, and others in your target audience. As a leader, you will have the opportunity to see what your board members have going on and how you can address any expectations or concerns.
Be open to criticism
Any person in a leadership position should be open to constructive criticism and suggestions. No leader is perfect. There are always places where one can improve. It is essential to recognize the difference between disrespect and criticism about your leadership tactics. Of course, most people do not like to hear where they have went wrong, but if you change your view and take it as a opportunity to improve, then the information may become more receptive. As a member, if you want to provide criticism, make sure that it is not hostile or negatively charged. Also, try to have a solution or suggestion in mind. Our leaders are here for us to build them up, not tear them down. We are here to learn and grow with one another. An organization's success is often a reflection of its leaders. If you become a better leader, you can lead a better organization.
Respect the needs and opinions of members
Do not invalidate your members’ opinions. Even if you do not experience something personally, that does not mean that other people do not. This is significant for organizations centered around empowerment and community. If your members do not feel like they can speak up and express their needs without having their experiences invalidated, then how are you carrying out your mission?
Update your vision or mission statement
Every other year, if not every year, organizations should update their mission or vision statements. This provides a concrete goal for your organization that will apply to further actions in the future. This is also important for your members to know. People give more time and effort when they are aware of the cause and can visualize the effect of their participation. Additionally, if you want to lead an organization, make sure you are passionate about it and that you are not doing it for a resume addition. The success of an organization is dependent of the effectiveness of its leader.
Explain what your events are
When you make fliers and send out promotions for events, explain what they are. People are not going to show up to events when they do not know what it is- even if there is food. Additionally,organizations send out different fliers for different events. Avoid compiling a month worth of events onto one flier. Although this could be effective initially, if you continue to send out the exact same flier, people will naturally ignore it because the visual content is no longer stimulating.
Leadership positions and being a part of an organization in general comes with great responsibility and expectations. By acknowledging and practicing some of these tips, we can foster a community with better communication, more fulfilling events, and connections that reach beyond GroupMe messages or emails.