Let’s understand leadership. It is a skill that can be learned and mastered. “Born leaders” are those who have a knack for doing it but may still need to be taught some things. They’re like athletes who are naturally strong and fast but benefit from learning the finer points of their sports. Other students have to work at becoming great leaders like athletes who don’t have those natural abilities but learn physical and mental techniques to master their sports. Your peers who are not Black Greeks observe how you are developing as a leader.
Like it or not, I believe that it’s fair for Black Greeks to pay attention to what other students think. We’re walking billboards for our fraternities and sororities. We step, shout, and vaingloriously recite our missions, histories, and lists of notable members at campus events. Let’s not even mention the junk we talk on social media. Regardless, this is not about playing to an audience but rather—as I always point out in my HBCU Lifestyle Greek life blog—representing your letters with dignity.
Because leadership is an expectation among Black Greeks, let’s look at how your peers can tell you are wearing those letters well.
The results are obvious.
Nothing says great leadership like a chapter whose growth is visible. That comes in the forms of increased membership, more well-attended events, serving as leading voices about campus issues, and/or consistently meeting your service project goals. By the way, include these results on your college résumé!
Other students witness brotherhood or sisterhood in action.
This goes beyond showing everyone that you’re just happy to see one another with grips and hugs. Since you belong to a fraternity or sorority, especially a Black Greek on an HBCU campus, your peers observe very closely how you relate to one another. Do you look comfortable hanging out or does it show that you hang out due to obligation?
Brotherhood and sisterhood are tested the most during times of adversity. How do you manage defending your frat or sorors when that vicious campus rumor mill gets going? When your frat and sorors mess up—and they will—will your peers witness improved behavior as a result of having handled things behind closed doors? To be sure, chapter issues should be handled privately and a leader makes sure of it.
You have the respect of campus administrators.
Campus administrators respect students who take college seriously. They may not like the way these students do things but they respect how they move the needle on campus issues. Also, administrators may not “alert the media” about which students they respect but they will certainly do things to let these students know that their leadership is valued. These students get invited to alumni events, institutional fundraisers, or to help make student life decisions. Administrators also highlight these students through marketing collateral or public relations opportunities. You get these opportunities with administrators when they believe that you represent the campus appropriately and proudly.
Leadership can be much more of an art than a science. Regardless of how much of a “natural leader” you are, it takes work. This is about the future of your chapter as well as your fraternity or sorority. So be a great leader.