Category Archives: LEAD

Incorporate LEAD with other chapter events to avoid over-programming

This post is part of a larger series to address the most common myths, misconceptions, and excuses that chapters and members have regarding the LEAD Program.  Follow the entire conversation and get caught up on each of the issues we are addressing by clicking here.

Myth 8.      It doesn’t count as LEAD if the event includes anything other than the LEAD session.

Chapters are encouraged to incorporate LEAD into their regular operations and events.  Doing so will help the chapter and members to see the benefits of the program and also combat the notion that LEAD is some sort of “fraternity class” or lecture series.  In reality, LEAD should relate directly to the experience of its members, be applicable in the chapter, the classroom, on campus, on the job, and after graduation.

Chapters and members are over-programmed and over-scheduled as it is.  Adding another weekly or monthly meeting on top of class, work, studying, extracurriculars, and other fraternity events can be too much.

When possible, and appropriate, LEAD can easily be worked into other events.  It is possible to add a LEAD element to nearly any type of chapter activity, essentially accomplishing two tasks at one time.

Examples of this include:

  • Recruitment – Help the chapter spread its name on campus, introduce other students to something unique about the chapter, and seal the deal with prospects through opening up and targeting specific sessions to a diverse audience.
    • Invite potential members to participate in one or more Phase I sessions with current candidates.
    • Host one or more sessions (from any phase) in a dormitory.
      • Invite all residents and post flyers announcing the session.
      • Use a sign-in sheet and add attendees to the chapter’s Master Prospect List.
      • Make an announcement at the beginning and/or end of the session explaining the LEAD Program and the role it plays in Sigma Nu.
      • Host a session on campus during welcome week.  Work with orientation staff to pick the time and venue and advertise the event.  Suggested sessions include: Time Management, Stress Management, Scholarship, and Campus Involvement, among others.
  • Social – incorporate an educational element with a highly interactive LEAD session mixed into a member date, mixer, or semi-formal event.
    • The All Chapter LEAD session on etiquette can easily take the form of an etiquette dinner.
    • Phase IV’s session on Networking could serve as a mixer with seniors (or the entire membership) of a sorority.

The truth is that college students are over-programmed and over-committed as it is.  LEAD shouldn’t be just one more thing to add to your calendar and list of responsibilities.  Whenever possible the chapter should take advantage of opportunities to incorporate LEAD into existing events and plans.  Vice versa, don’t be afraid to add a social, brotherhood, operational, or recruitment element into LEAD.

Tips for implementing LEAD Phase III

This post is part of a larger series to address the most common myths, misconceptions, and excuses that chapters and members have regarding the LEAD Program.  Follow the entire conversation and get caught up on each of the issues we are addressing by clicking here.

Myth 7.      LEAD Phase III is hard to implement

It is true that Phase III is unlike any of the other phases.  It does not utilize workshops and is not designed to require regular meetings of participants.

Due to these differences, Phase III may actually be one of the easier phases to get started and work into participants schedules. 

Phase III participants – typically third year students – are an especially busy bunch.  They are heavily engaged in their major field of study, likely to have off- or on-campus jobs and internships, and are likely involved in and serving as leaders of other organizations.

The content of Phase III is designed to address and be utilized in these same areas in which the participants are already involved.  The pace of the phase allows its busy participants to work at their own pace, selecting projects and learning experiences they can directly apply in the classroom, in other campus organizations, and in their advancing career search.

Meeting at various intervals throughout the year, participants will discuss what they have learned through the completion of projects.  Each module of content includes a brief introduction to the topic and a “choose your own adventure” style of project options to be completed prior to the next group meeting.  Working at their own pace, participants will complete the projects that are most relevant and interesting to them.

At each group meeting, participants will share their experiences and lessons learned.  Due to the nature of the “choose your own adventure” selection of projects for each module of content, participants will have an opportunity to not only tailor their specific experience but to learn from other participants’ project experiences.

In this way, it is not uncommon for a single participant to experience – at least secondhand – every project option from a module while having only done between one and three himself.

Another thing that makes Phase III different from the others is that it is managed by an alumnus or someone else outside of the chapter, in the form of a LEAD Coach.

The LEAD Coach guides discussion at group meetings and keeps participants on task and engaged throughout the year.  In many cases, Phase III participants will conduct their group meetings over dinner at a local restaurant, in the home of the LEAD Coach, or in some other informal setting, as opposed to in a more traditional or classroom setting that many of the other phases utilize.

Learn how to recruit a LEAD Coach/Advisor and review some scheduling models in the LEAD Phase III Introduction and Coach’s Manual.

Customize facilitator notes for more engaging LEAD sessions

This post is part of a larger series to address the most common myths, misconceptions, and excuses that chapters and members have regarding the LEAD Program.  Follow the entire conversation and get caught up on each of the issues we are addressing by clicking here.

Myth 6. For it to count as LEAD it has to follow the facilitator guidance notes exactly


Detailed facilitator guidance notes have been provided for all phase I-IV sessions and most All Chapter sessions (some All Chapter sessions include only session snapshots which give learning outcomes, suggested resources and facilitators, and sometimes potential outlines for the session).

Following these guidance notes will result in a successful, engaging, and interactive session that accomplishes the intended objectives.  Facilitator guidance notes are written in the form of a script and provide a clear roadmap, needed materials, and embedded activities for a session.  This model allows for nearly anyone, given enough advance notice and preparation, to facilitate a successful session.

In many cases, the facilitator guidance notes can be adapted based on:

  1. Participants’ knowledge of the subject matter and pre-review of the online content
  2. Facilitator’s experience and comfort with the topic
  3. Setting of the session

Swapping out activities, shortening sections that participants are overly familiar with, and even foregoing the written “script” when a facilitator has their own program that covers the same objectives, are all examples of suitable times to adapt or stray from a session’s facilitator guidance notes.

Two prime examples include:

(1)    Having a session conducted by a subject matter expert who has their own program or script for presenting the subject;

(2)    Attending a professional speaker’s session or other similar offering already being hosted by the campus or another group.

In both cases, the facilitator guidance notes are simply replaced by the speaker’s presentation and, if the objectives listed in the session guidance notes are met, this session acts as a perfect replacement.  In instances where the presentation only addresses some or part of the session’s objectives, a simple follow up should be arranged to ensure participants gain the full experience intended by the LEAD session being replaced.

Build an engaging LEAD Program by mixing it up

This post is part of a larger series to address the most common myths, misconceptions, and excuses that chapters and members have regarding the LEAD Program.  Follow the entire conversation and get caught up on each of the issues we are addressing by clicking here.

Myth no. 5.  Phases and Sessions are numbered and must be implemented and presented in that order

Phases and sessions ARE numbered and presented in a suggested order; however, that does not mean that chapters are limited to implementing the program or scheduling sessions in that order.  Flexibility and relevance are the name of the game when it comes to putting together the chapter’s LEAD calendar and determining what further phases and sessions to offer (if the current program is not running at full capacity).


Facilitator availability, relevance to chapter members, and alignment with a chapter’s overall schedule should be key factors in creating the LEAD schedule each semester.  A great facilitator shouldn’t be overlooked or not utilized because their schedule doesn’t match up with the number of the session and where it would ideally go in the schedule.

In addition to re-ordering sessions, combining or splitting up sessions is also recommended if it will enhance the experience of participants, allow for use of more optimum conditions or facilitation, or otherwise positively impact the chapter.

Finally, a chapter looking to add to its current offering of LEAD phases doesn’t have to automatically choose the next numbered phase.  A selection of sessions from multiple phases for a specific cohort or the chapter as a whole OR implementing parts of multiple phases for various cohorts may be a better option for a chapter depending on the situation.

Let’s look at an example.  Say your chapter is currently only using Phase I but has some interest in doing more LEAD.  What are the options?

  • Start Phase II with the most recently initiated candidate class.  They just completed Phase I within the last 9 months and should already be accustomed to participating in the program.  Continue this trend by having them move to Phase III the next year and Phase IV the following.  Do the same with the classes behind them, slowly adding one phase each year to what the chapter does.  In a matter of just a few years the chapter will be utilizing the program in its entirety.
  • A spin on the last approach would be to pick-and-choose the most appealing sessions to the chapter and offer them for everyone.  This could be a combination of any sessions from any phase – whatever chapter members are most interested in.  Introducing them to the program and giving them a positive experience with LEAD can be just the boost needed to start formally using each phase.
  • Pick the phase that best addresses the current issues of the chapter.  Maybe that’s a lack of senior participation and motivation (go with Phase IV to provide something specific to these older members).  Perhaps it’s a lack of leadership and talent to take over officer positions next year (try Phase II to introduce folks to leadership and leading groups).  It could be brotherhood and chapter solidarity issues (All Chapter modules A and B).  Or maybe you are pressed for time and looking for the most application-based experiences for your members (Phase III offers flexible scheduling and work at your own pace project options instead of regular facilitated sessions).

The key is getting started.  The program has been designed with flexibility in mind.  Don’t be afraid to adapt a particular activity, session, or even an entire phase to meet the needs of your specific chapter.

For more ideas and resources visit the LEAD Chairman’s officer resource page and the Best Practices Library (search Brother Development and then LEAD).

Finding the right guest facilitator can make all the difference

This post is part of a larger series to address the most common myths, misconceptions, and excuses that chapters and members have regarding the LEAD Program.  Follow the entire conversation and get caught up on each of the issues we are addressing by clicking here.

4.      Myth: LEAD Chairmen and Committee members should serve as facilitators

As a general rule, students are not especially skilled or experienced facilitators.  Asking them to take on the burden of preparing for and delivering a quality session is oftentimes too much.  Guest facilitators should be utilized at every opportunity.

A guest facilitator is any individual who facilitates a LEAD session and is NOT a current member of the chapter. For example, chapter alumni who facilitate LEAD sessions are guest facilitators. However, guest facilitators are not limited to chapter alumni. Guest facilitators can also be faculty/staff of the university (e.g. a professor, the president of the university, or a nurse at the student infirmary). Further, guest facilitators can be parents, police officers, or other individuals from the community.

The role of the LEAD Chairman and Committee should be in organizing and managing the phase: scheduling sessions, recruiting facilitators, getting members to the sessions, reporting sessions, encouraging member use of and tracking the usage of the online components.  In this way, a chapter’s LEAD Chairman and Committee should be selected for their ability to manage, plan, and implement programs, not in their public speaking abilities.

In-depth facilitator guidance notes are available for all sessions in Phases I-IV as well as most of All Chapter.  Using these notes as a script, a facilitator will be able to provide a quality program that is interactive, covers all the objectives and learning outcomes of the intended session, and utilizes a format that promotes active learning and discussion.  Skilled facilitators or presenters with content-specific knowledge and experience are also a great resource.  For example, why not reach out to the campus counseling center to facilitate the Myers-Briggs personality types session or the judicial affairs office to host a session on conflict or controversy with civility.  Chances are good that these offices, and others on campus, already have their own workshops and presentations to effectively address these topics.  Feel free to have them conduct their own session rather than sticking directly to the LEAD facilitator notes.

Why you should use guest facilitators:

  • They have “real world” experience;
  • The chapter members do not know these people, which is intriguing;
  • The chapter members hold the individual in high regard and respect their advice;
  • They are “experts” in their field based on their life experiences;
  • They are more willing to challenge chapter members and make them think outside the box;
  • They want to teach the chapter members something, meaning they care and the chapter members recognize this and respond to it.

Sounds good right?  So how do we go about finding and recruiting these people?

Some simple guidelines for involving guest facilitators in a chapter’s LEAD programming.

Step 1: Decide which sessions you want or need guest facilitators. For Phase I, guest facilitators should be used for at least 3/10 of the sessions. Phase II, should have guest facilitators for 6/8 of the sessions. For Phase IV, guest facilitators will be needed/desired for 6/6 of the sessions. In All Chapter LEAD, guest facilitators should be used for at least 2/6 of the sessions and it is recommended to have guest facilitators for 4/6 of the sessions.

Step 2: Meet with the Greek Advisor or Faculty Advisor to get names of possible guest facilitators for the LEAD phases and sessions that you’ll focus on this semester/quarter/year. Also refer to your campus directory.

Step 3: Contact Guest Facilitators to see what dates they are available to facilitate a session.

Step 4: In LEAD Committee meetings, set the date, time and location for the ses­sions. Reserve meeting space for the session if necessary. Order all the materials needed for sessions. The list of needed materials is included in the facilitator notes for each session.

Step 5: Two weeks before the session send the guest facilitator the session guidance notes (Xerox them for the facilitator or provide the password for the digital version). If a brother in the chapter is facilitating the session, meet with them and make sure they spend at least an hour and a half getting ready for the session.

If you are facilitating the session, make sure to spend at least an hour and a half to review the session, add your own examples, ensure you have all materials and do a run through. Your prep time will make ALL the difference.

Step 6: Announce the session in chapter and instruct participants to review the online content prior to the date of the facilitated session. They should plan to complete any worksheets and print off the needed handouts. Make sure to tell the participants WHAT they will learn. Get them excited about the session! Then, remind them about the session and completing the online content the day before. Print a few copies of the handouts and worksheets (from the facilitator’s notes) for use at the session. Prepare any needed materials and confirm the room reservation.

Step 7: Thank the facilitator and recognize them in some way. Thank you notes and gifts (certificates, gift cards, blanket from the campus bookstore, etc.). Always follow-up within 48 hours of a session to thank the facilitator for their time and express to them how they helped the chapter (provide specific examples or changes as a result of their volunteering).

Guest Facilitator access to the online (user) content: To access the online portion of the LEAD Program (the participant experience, not the facilitator notes), guest facilitators will need to complete a request for guest facilitator access.  This form is found online and requires facilitators to identify the chapter/colony for which they will be facilitating.  Upon submitting a request, the guest facilitator will be provided a guest username and password via email, and should use the username and password to log in to the Members Area and access the online content.

LEAD Myth #3 – LEAD is for Sigma Nu ONLY

This post is part of a larger series to address the most common myths, misconceptions, and excuses that chapters and members have regarding the LEAD Program.  Follow the entire conversation and get caught up on each of the issues we are addressing by clicking here.

3.      LEAD is for Sigma Nu ONLY

While the program was designed for and is primarily used by Sigma Nus, the content of the program is relevant for most individuals and groups.  With very few exceptions, LEAD sessions, and in fact entire phases, could be conducted with most college students and student groups.

Of the total library of sessions, very few are specific to Sigma Nu (e.g. History, PEP), and only a few more would only be relevant to members of Greek organizations (e.g. Fraternity, Ritual).  By and large though, at least 75% of the sessions are relevant for and have been designed with the general college student or group in mind.  With this information, chapters are encouraged to open up their sessions to a larger audience.

Some suggestions include:

  • Pairing with a sorority or other Greek organization to hold a joint session
    • All Chapter Module A Session 2 on Etiquette could serve as a great mixer or member date if done over a meal.
    • All Greek organizations need to do risk management and general chapter and personal development programming.  All Chapter is an ideal place to draw topics from.
    • Networking and career preparation sessions from Phase IV for the Greek (or campus) community
  • Incorporating LEAD into recruitment
    • Offering the Phase I Time Management session in a freshman dorm during the first few weeks of class.
    • Inviting prospective members to participate in Phase I sessions with the current candidate class OR hosting a Phase I session as a recruitment event (Fraternity, Leadership & Working Groups, etc.)
  • Using LEAD as a general PR tool
    • Working with Business Department faculty to host Phase IV sessions for the business school
    • Offering specific sessions or an entire phase (Phase II is popular) for campus leaders or any interested students through a semester long seminar series (sign up in advance or come as you choose models have both been utilized by chapters).

This general concept also applies to a chapter’s use of facilitators.  You do not have to be an alumnus, or have any experience whatsoever with the LEAD Program, to be a decent facilitator of the program or a specific session.  In fact, the program encourages the use of subject matter experts and experienced facilitators throughout the curriculum.  Guest facilitators can come from anywhere – staff, faculty, business leaders, community members, professional speakers, alumni, and in some cases even other students.

LEAD as a tool for building a better chapter

This post is part of a larger series to address the most common myths, misconceptions, and excuses that chapters and members have regarding the LEAD Program.  Follow the entire conversation and get caught up on each of the issues we are addressing by clicking here.

2.      LEAD doesn’t work – it won’t make me or my chapter any better.  Part 2 – LEAD as a tool for making members and the chapter better.

As we’ve mentioned before, this is probably our favorite myth.  Maybe that’s because refuting it is so basic to helping chapters and members buy into the program.  So we’re coming back to it to talk about the measurable improvements to individual members and chapters.

We’ve already looked at some examples of how LEAD can address the key experiences, skills, and knowledge that you wish for your members to have at specific points in the chapter.  Let’s take a look at some comparisons of the specific skills, experiences, and behaviors of members that have and have not experienced LEAD.

Those participating in the LEAD Program are significantly better off in key areas than LEAD non-participants.  Based on the Fraternity’s LEAD assessment (conducted by George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Public Health) we know that LEAD participants are significantly more likely than members who do not experience LEAD to*:

  • Recognize their personal strengths and weaknesses
  • Have more direction than before as a result of their participation in the LEAD Program
  • Look forward to change
  • Feel prepared to address the issue of others’ accountability for their own actions

As you can see, the LEAD Program is providing measurable, added value to the Sigma Nu membership experience.

In the simplest of terms, these significant differences continue to indicate that LEAD is better than any holistic homegrown programming offered at the local level and certainly better than no membership development opportunities at all.

Said another way, LEAD IS BETTER THAN NO LEAD!

Also of note is that as members experience more of the LEAD Program (multiple phases) these advantages and differences multiply.  Members that experience Phases I and II are significantly more likely than members that only use Phase I to*:

  • Believe the LEAD Program has helped them to hone their leadership skills and abilities
  • Believe the LEAD Program has helped them to grow and develop as an individual
  • Believe LEAD is worth the time and effort they put into the program
  • Believe LEAD has helped them develop stronger friendships with their fraternity brothers

Additional benefits can be seen when comparing those that use the entire program (Phases I-IV and All Chapter) when compared to those only using Phases I or I and II.  These members are significantly more likely to*:

  • Be aware when they make a decision that is not consistent with their values
  • Believe LEAD has helped them to grow and develop as individual
  • Believe LEAD is worth the time and effort they put into the program
  • Believe LEAD has helped them develop stronger friendships with their fraternity brothers
  • Believe the LEAD Program runs smoothly in their chapter

So what does this mean?  Very simply that MORE LEAD = MORE BETTER.  The more you do, the more benefits you see and the better off you are when compared to those that have had less exposure to the program.

The question remains then, if members that do LEAD are better off than those that have no membership development program (or even some locally created one not based on LEAD), and the more LEAD members experience the better off they are, then why wouldn’t your chapter be offering as much LEAD as possible?

*Data above is drawn from:

Anderson, D. S., & Hanfman, E. E. (2010).  Evaluation of the Sigma Nu Fraternity LEAD Program.  Unpublished manuscript, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

Learn more about the Fraternity’s partnership with George Mason University in assessing the LEAD Program.

LEAD Myths and Misconceptions – Part 1

This post is part of a larger series to address the most common myths, misconceptions, and excuses that chapters and members have regarding the LEAD Program.  Follow the entire conversation and get caught up on each of the issues we are addressing by clicking here.

  1. LEAD doesn’t work – it won’t make me or my chapter any better.  Part 1 – LEAD as a tool for making the members and chapter better.

This is probably our favorite myth.  Maybe that’s because refuting it is so basic to helping chapters and members buy into the program.

One of the best ways to prove the utility of the program is to consider what your chapter already does, where it would like to improve, and what types of experiences, knowledge, skills, and abilities it would like for its members to have at some key points during their membership.

For example answer the following questions either on your own or with a group of chapter members and/or advisors.

  • Candidates – List all of the things that you feel Candidates should learn, gain, and experience as part of the candidate education program.  What should they know, be able to do, and have gained experience in by the time they become Knights?
  •  Officers – List all of the things chapter officers need to know and be able to do and be effective in their positions.  What skills, information, and experience do they need?
  • Graduates – List all of the skills and information you feel seniors should learn by the time they are ready to graduate.  What should they have learned in order to be successful?

Made your lists?  Great, now compare that to the session topics and objectives covered by the LEAD Program.  Without fail those lists will be almost entirely covered directly by whole or partial sessions or simply as a result of participating in LEAD.  Don’t believe us?  Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Here are some obvious responses for each of the questions above and the corresponding LEAD sessions that cover the knowledge, skill, or ability desired.

  • Officers
    • Goal setting and strategic planning experience – All Chapter LEAD sessions on Goal Setting and Strategic Planning
    • How to conduct an officer transition and knowledge of their position – All Chapter LEAD session on Officer Transitions
    • Delegation skills – All Chapter LEAD session on Delegation
    • How to run meetings and effective committees – All Chapter LEAD session on Effective Meetings
    • Fraternity policy and risk management – Phase I session on Risk Reduction

These are just a few examples but you probably get the idea.  We are confident that more than 75% of each of the lists you came up with are explicitly covered within the LEAD Program.

The question now is, if these lists truly express our desires and intended outcomes for these key stages of membership AND the LEAD Program represents a key tool we can easily use to achieve all or nearly all of the things on our lists, why wouldn’t we use LEAD?

Hopefully we will be able to answer your remaining questions and break down any additional barriers to your chapter and members utilizing LEAD in the remainder of our posts.

If you have additional questions or concerns that you would like for us to tackle please add them in the comments section below.

LEAD Myths & Misconceptions

By Director of Leadership Development Scott Smith

The keys to success for any local LEAD programming initiative are to make it relevant and accommodating to the specific chapter.  Above all, the LEAD Program is a tool to increase chapter performance, brotherhood, ethical leadership, and the overall member experience.  That being said, the old adage, “if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” definitely applies to LEAD.  A skilled consultant, LEAD Chairman, or advisor knows that LEAD is more than a hammer and uses the program to achieve various goals and to meet almost any specific need or circumstance.

The following is a list of common myths and misconceptions that chapters, students, and alumni often hold about the LEAD Program.

  1. LEAD doesn’t work – it won’t make me or my chapter any better.  Part 1 – LEAD as a tool for making the chapter better
  2. LEAD doesn’t work – it won’t make me or my chapter any better.  Part 2 – LEAD as a tool for making individual members better
  3. LEAD is for Sigma Nu ONLY
  4. LEAD Chairmen and Committee members should serve as facilitators
  5. Phases and Sessions are numbered and must be implemented and presented in that order
  6. For it to count as LEAD it has to follow the facilitator guidance notes exactly 
  7. LEAD Phase III is hard to implement
  8. It doesn’t count as LEAD if the event includes anything other than the LEAD session
  9. LEAD is basically another lecture every week/month (it takes too much time)
  10. LEAD is all theory and has no real-world application
  11. LEAD can’t go on a resume or be discussed in a job interview
  12. Hard copy LEAD manuals are better than the new online sessions.
  13. LEAD is mandatory
  14. LEAD covers very basic information
  15. Got LEAD? There’s a session for that

Over the next few weeks we will address each of these myths and misconceptions here at the blog. We’ll explain why each myth doesn’t hold up, and we’ll provide the tools to push past the excuses and implement an effective and enjoyable LEAD Program.

Part of your job as a member of Sigma Nu (collegian, alumnus, officer, advisor, LEAD participant, or otherwise) is knowing that these are just that, myths and misconceptions, and effectively addressing them with chapters.

Help us out by following along and adding your own thoughts and responses in the comments section below.

If you have additional myths, misconceptions, or questions that you would like us to address then feel free to add those in the comments section as well.

Khan Academy and the LEAD Program

“Khan Academy is an educational website,” reports technology writer Clive Thompson, “that, as its tagline puts it, aims to let anyone “learn almost anything—for free.” Students, or anyone interested enough to surf by, can watch some 2,400 videos in which the site’s founder, Salman Khan, chattily discusses principles of math, science, and economics (with a smattering of social science topics thrown in).”

The core of Khan Academy’s approach sounds remarkably similar to the impetus behind moving the LEAD Program to an online format:

The idea is to invert the normal rhythms of school, so that lectures are viewed on the kids’ own time and homework is done at school. It sounds weird, Thordarson admits, but this flipping makes sense when you think about it.

Similarly, the LEAD Program transitioned to an online format so participants could learn the vital information on their own, freeing up time for interactive discussion during group meetings.

Read the full story here and browse Khan Academy’s impressive collection of video lessons here.