Category Archives: effective meetings

Five Steps to Being a Good Member

By Ben Nye (Arkansas)

What are some practical steps to being a good member? It’s a simple question, and yet one that often gets overlooked in the bustle of chapter meetings, paperwork deadlines, and all the other tasks chapters have to worry about each week. Non office-holding members make up the majority of most chapters and finding ways for these members to contribute is important to Sigma Nu’s success. These five simple steps are ways each brother can be a contributor and fulfill his oath to Sigma Nu.

Read The Law

An important aspect of Sigma Nu membership is knowledge of the Fraternity’s Law. The Law serves as Sigma Nu’s instruction manual: it articulates rights, responsibilities,  obligations, and proper procedure. A full knowledge of Sigma Nu’s Law allows for proper operation of a chapter and successful navigation of membership . Without awareness of the Law, it is impossible to know if an idea or behavior is within the legal limits of Sigma Nu.

ImageKnow The Ritual

Sigma Nu’s Ritual is its oldest and most distinguishing document: The Ritual binds all Sigma Nus together in ways that nothing else can. Members reciting The Ritual take part in a tradition combining high ideals with rigorous standards that have existed since the founding of Sigma Nu. Knowing The Ritual is essential for participating fully in all chapter ceremonies and will give each man a greater appreciation for its importance.

Pay Your Dues

Like all other organizations, Sigma Nu must be well equipped financially to operate. The primary form of revenue chapters are allowed to collect is member dues. It is therefore essential that each member pay his dues in a timely fashion. There will be no socials, philanthropies, and minimal recruitment without finances. Furthermore, Sigma Nu’s national organization would collapse without the revenue to support educational programs and new expansion projects.

Serve on a Committee

One of the methods for chapters to get things done is through committees. Committees, when working properly, can alleviate stress of the leaders, involve multiple members, help younger members learn officer positions, and improve the effectiveness of the chapter. Members should seek out opportunities to serve on committees and when on them should attend meetings and seek responsibility.

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Attend Chapter Meeting and Contribute to Discussion

As most business matters worth considering come up during chapter meeting, all members need to attend. A member must be in attendance to have his voice heard and not attending communicates indifference and apathy to the membership. Familiarity with Robert’s Rules of Order can help too. This is what Sigma Nu uses during its biannual Grand Chapter, and every member should have a base level of familiarity with Robert’s Rules of Order to apply during chapter meeting.

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7 Leadership Lessons from Geno Auriemma

Bill with Auriemma

Leadership Consultant Bill Morosco with UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma.

By Bill Morosco (Florida)

University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma has won over 800 games at the college level – eight National Championships and fourteen Final Four appearances. Though Coach Auriemma is most known for motivational and recruiting skills, his success on building championship teams has also relied on his talent for teaching his players to be leaders.

I had the opportunity to meet and learn from the legendary University of Connecticut coach earlier this spring at the Nike Championship Basketball Clinic in Chicago. While the clinic focused on the fundamentals of coaching basketball, the sessions also gave me a chance to observe up close how Coach Auriemma teaches leadership and gets the most out of his teams.

Be a People Person. Coach Auriemma said that one of the most important keys to his success is being a people person. You have to understand what motivates each individual person and how to harness that inspiration to get them to do what’s best for the team.

The same holds true for fraternities and other student organizations. All of your members have different strengths and motivations. It is your job as a leader in the chapter to understand your members’ motivation and to cultivate those desires to help them reach their personal goals as well as the chapter’s group goals.

ESPN Sigma Nu logoBe Realistic. Coach Auriemma says “It doesn’t matter how many plays you run if your players can’t shoot. You still won’t score.” You need to understand your situation and limitations and decide what a realistic vision of success looks like. A leader needs to know what his or her team is capable of.

It might be unlikely that your chapter can produce weekly alumni newsletters if your chapter has never created one before. Set goals that will improve your chapter but make sure they are attainable. This will build confidence and keep the chapter moving towards bigger and better things instead of causing frustration and low morale by failing to reach an unrealistic goal.

Treat People Equally. Auriemma believes in treating his players equally. He has his forwards and centers do the same dribbling and shooting drills as his guards to build a more diversified offense and to improve each player’s skill set.

Treating team members equally is important for a fraternity. Give each chapter member/officer the same set of expectations. If a 3.0 GPA is required to be an officer in your chapter, why not make it a requirement to be a general member in good standing? This will help hold your members to a higher yet achievable standard and better improve the entire chapter.

Constant Gentle Pressure. Coach Auriemma described his approach to the yearly development of each of his teams as constant gentle pressure. Similar to Coach Knight, Auriemma ups the ante in every practice, making each session more challenging than the previous one – all while making sure the drills are relevant to the team’s mission to play championship basketball.

“It doesn’t matter how many plays you run if your players can’t shoot. You still won’t score.”

At the chapter level, this concept can be used to get the most out of all officers and committees. If committee deadlines are strictly monitored and constantly enforced, chapter officers will be ready for greatness when it’s time to complete Pursuit of Excellence documentation and award applications.

Do Everything at Game Speed. During practices, Coach Auriemma has his players do every drill with the same speed and intensity that they would do in a game. This increases the focus, effort, intensity and results of each practice and makes the game just as hard if not easier than practice.

Have your officers run their committee meetings just like they would a chapter meeting. This way chapter officers know exactly how to present in chapter and committee members better understand their role in the larger meeting.

Own What You Teach. Auriemma also talks about the flaws in trying to teach things you don’t fully understand. If you don’t fully understand the topic, the first question when adversity hits could derail the entire operation. Become an expert, study and learn how to apply what you want to teach in every situation.

Similarly, if you find an idea you really like in the Best Practices Library, be sure to reach out to the chapter that created it to ask questions to fully understand the material. If your Leadership Consultant brought up a great idea during his visit, follow up with him to get additional advice on implementing the new approach.

Have Contingency Plans. For the NCAA Tournament or other conference tournaments, Coach Auriemma likes to plan as if what he wants to do won’t work. For instance, Auriemma is known for drawing up three different ways to start each play, just in case the first approach doesn’t work.

At some point, something you wanted to do – be it a social, philanthropy, or chapter retreat – won’t work. So always have a backup plan.

Give your chapter meetings (and chapter culture) a makeover

Here’s a small excerpt from a must-read piece by Martin Lindstrom:

The first thing I do during the course of my change-agent work for Fortune 100 companies is to establish the 4:30 rule. The maximum number of people in any meeting should be four, and meetings should never last any longer than 30 minutes. No phones allowed. You may think this a little radical but, if you want to act entrepreneurial, then these are the most important steps to take.

If you’re able to get the right people into one room over two days, the stage is set. Make sure the room is far from the office and prep everyone on the notion that it’s essential to not only come up with ideas for change, but actually lock them in by the end of the second day. If the incentive is great enough, and everyone’s prepared to roll up their sleeves, in my experience, it will happen.

Do yourself a favor and set aside 5 minutes to read the full story.

How could you apply Lindstrom’s other ideas to your chapter?

Master the 15-minute Meeting

From Tech Disruptive:

  1. Preparation – I always go into a 15 minute meeting with bullet points of what is to be discussed. Having done this many times now I know how much can be discussed in 15 minutes and what can be left for another session or in a follow-up discussion.
  2. Strict Timings – 15 minutes. That’s it, don’t go over. No exceptions. I’ve literally stop meetings if they go over and say let’s prepare better for next time or plan another session.
  3. Follow-up – Pretty much every 15 minute meeting I’ve done has required some sort of follow-up. But this is the beauty of productivity in the 15 minute meeting. You can achieve a lot in 15 minutes, but as with even many 1-hour meetings the main focus of productivity is what happens in the follow-up actions or discussions later.
  4. Leave Politics at the door – 15 minute meetings aren’t designed to have any leeway for discussing how to build strategies for projects. They’re designed to make decisions. Often during 1-2 hour meetings I would estimate 75% of the time spent was trying to create a strategy that was needed to circumvent some sort of bureaucracy or political issue.
  5. People Need Time to Think – 1-2 hour meetings are inefficient because they don’t let people analytically think about problems. All they do is let people talk. This is bad. People make their best decisions when they can analyze data. Good business is done without emotions, 15 minutes doesn’t allow for any emotions. It’s either X or Y, YES or NO. That’s how decisions are made.

3 Quick Tips for LEAD Facilitators

A successful LEAD program relies on members, particularly the LEAD chairman, understanding the difference between presenting and facilitating.

Presenting is one-way, it’s boring and it doesn’t lend itself to engaging LEAD sessions.

Facilitating, on the other hand, takes participants through a process. It’s fosters participation and conversation in place of a traditional lecture.

In this short post, Harvard Business Review offers 3 simple ways to increase participation at your next meeting (or LEAD session):

  1. Don’t dominate. This not only gives others less time to speak up but also conveys that only your ideas are important. Let at least three people speak before you
    talk again.
  2. Be positive. Demonstrate that all ideas are valuable by restating important points. Thank people who are usually reticent for their comments.
  3. Ask directly. To get input from everyone, ask each person for their thoughts. Don’t do it in a confrontational way. Try, “Do you have anything to share?”

The Minimalist’s Guide to Chapter Meetings

College is busy.  Your chapter members have enough to worry about between study groups, professors’ office hours and remembering to eat breakfast or call home.  Don’t waste their time with another meeting of announcements that could have been sent by email.  Follow these guidelines to improve the efficiency of your meetings (if you have one at all).

1.  The litmus test for a meeting

Is there anything the entire group needs to discuss?  If not then don’t hold a meeting in the first place.

Begin each meeting with this (after opening with Ritual, of course): “The purpose of this meeting is to discuss _____.”  If you can’t complete this sentence then you shouldn’t be holding a meeting.

2.  Set an agenda

Ask members to submit agenda items several days before a potential meeting.  Separate the proposals into groups of discussion items (e.g. chapter goal setting) and announcements (e.g. winter formal dates).

Compile the announcements and include them with the meeting minutes; don’t recite the announcements out loud at any time during the meeting.

Resolve to stick to the agenda items.  If it’s not on the predetermined agenda then it doesn’t get discussed until the next meeting.  End the practice of running down a chapter roster asking for monotonous officer reports (i.e. announcements).

3. Use the committee system

The entire chapter doesn’t need to discuss the recruitment t-shirt design or the LEAD calendar (have you ever tried to choose a movie with more than two people?).  The committees or individual officers should be making these decisions–that’s why we entrusted them with these responsibilities.

Save precious chapter meeting time for important discussions like long-term goal setting, bid extensions and officer elections.  Again, if there’s nothing to discuss then give chapter members the night off so they can study for an exam, work on their resume or maybe just relax.

4. How to use the extra time

So your chapter discovered it can operate just fine without 2-hour meetings every week.  How do you spend all of that extra time?

Instead of listening to the same announcements you’ve been hearing for the past three weeks, host a guest speaker to discuss personal finance with the chapter.  Or ask a business professor to help the chapter develop a strategic plan.  Or invite a representative from the campus career center to facilitate a resume workshop.

Hold your resume workshop at a sorority house.  Invite your friends from class to the LEAD session on mastering job interviews.  Don’t even mention it’s a fraternity thing, because it just became a recruitment event too.  Get creative, mix it up.

With boring, redundant and unnecessary meetings out of the way, the possibilities abound for personal development and chapter growth.

 

 

 

Are you too irreplaceable?

Successful chapters are, no doubt, built around successful leaders.  But what happens when those outstanding individuals fail to transition their successes?  TIME Magazine featured an interesting article on small businesses, ‘Don’t Become Irreplaceable.’

A close reading demonstrates many similarities between small business and our own chapters:

“Small business owners have always viewed their firms as the key to a comfortable retirement…they have poured most of their extra money into their companies, believing that their value would grow.”

While a fraternity might not necessarily be the key to a ‘comfortable retirement,’ it can nonetheless arm you with the skills necessary to be successful in your first interview, first job and subsequent employment manuevers.  And while most of us don’t ‘invest’ our extra money in our chapter – though I’ve met with many Recruitment Chairmen who pay out-of-pocket for numerous recruitment-related expenses – we do invest our resources (namely time and talent) in an effort to increase the value of the chapter to potential new members.

The article focuses, however, on individuals becoming so skilled and involved that they create a situation where other members of the organization are unable to contribute.  Think, for example, about the ex-Philanthropy Chairman who might still be getting calls from service organizations – is he passing those along to the new officer?  Or the LEAD Chairman who was supremely successful in implementing Phases III and IV, but didn’t document any of the sessions?  How about the ex-Commander who goes behind the back of chapter leadership in communicating with alumni, the Greek Advisor or younger brothers of the chapter?

Chapters need to focus on being irreplaceable.  Indeed, officers change, at least, annually so new members need to be able to step in and easily resume the work of the previous officer.  This involves identifying a service or product that scales beyond an individual (for instance, don’t focus on the  previous LEAD Chairmen; rather, focus on the strategies he used to implement LEAD).  A scalable product will meet three criteria:

  1. “They are teachable. You can explain your process to someone…to deliver your system while you sleep.
  2. They are valuable. Customers want what you’re hawking.
  3. They are repeatable…needs to have a consumable element that forces customers [members] to repurchase it regularly.”

As you approach your officer transition periods in the next few months, consider your work as an outgoing officer – can you teach what you’ve been doing?  Is there value in your work?  Can someone else do it?  Answering yes to all three of these questions will ensure that the officers can be replaced without sacrificing the quality of your chapter’s programs and services.