Today’s guest blogger is one of our interns: Jake DeVries. He is a junior majoring in Business Marketing and Sales Leadership. Jake is currently President and Treasurer of DePaul Men’s Rugby.
One of the biggest struggles within student organizations is delegating tasks and responsibilities to members within the organization and most importantly, delegating them properly and efficiently. Student leaders need to make sure that they assign the appropriate tasks and responsibilities to organization members who have the correct drive and skill sets to complete the task properly.
One of the worst behaviors a student leader can engage in is taking on an entire project or completing all organizational responsibilities alone, without the assistance of their executive-board or other org members. This can be detrimental to a club or organization in a multitude of ways. It leaves other members within the organization feeling excluded or unimportant, on top of all the stress it causes at the top level with doing the bulk of the work alone. It also makes management of the organization stressful and can lead to disengaged members. Leaders can become burnt out from doing all of the work or members can distance from the org, feeling excluded due to the lack of responsibility and input opportunities they are given.
Motivating and leading within organizations present students with a unique opportunity to lead and manage people at a level most students have not yet been exposed to. It creates a great opportunity to grow and learn alongside peers while also developing some good management and communicative skill sets. Every student leader at some point in time has to realize that managing people means catering your leadership style to each individual sect of an organization. In his book Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations, T.J. Sullivan talks about how motivating the middle third of a student organization takes patience and a different approach compared to how a leader would manage their executive-board or top-third members. He goes on to point out how successful leaders entrust different members of their club or org with different tasks or levels of inclusion to keep them happy and involved to the level in which they desire. For example, a member of the bottom and middle third of a group may want to give input and have their opinions heard but not want any large tasks or responsibilities assigned to them. These types of members do want to be included, but may prioritize certain aspects of their lives above the club, which may be very different than the members that reside in the top third of the org.
Being a successful leader is not about simply communicating and planning effectively, but more so about treating each sect of people differently according to their receptive preferences. When leaders can engage with their members on an individual basis and delegate responsibilities accordingly, using what they see and learn from said individuals’ behaviors, this can create a more cohesive, positive, and generally successful dynamic with an organization.