If your chapter is anything like mine, you’ve been able to recruit several guys who are very strong leaders, guys who will serve on your executive board in a variety of positions for multiple terms. In my mind, getting elected into a position is the easy part. The hard part comes with getting eight to ten very different leaders to come together to work toward a common goal. Most people think that the betterment of the chapter is enough of a common goal, but is it?
A lot of your executive board members probably have very different agendas when it comes to their position. Some are probably using their current position in your chapter to gain a higher position like President. Some are using it to springboard themselves to a position on the IFC executive board. Others are just using it to give them stuff to talk about in job interviews. Whatever their reason for taking the position that they have, your executive board needs to come together.
One thing that my chapter has always done with great success is a beginning-of-term executive board retreat. We pick up and go somewhere an hour away from campus and we sit down and we lay it all out there. We get a chance to discuss what we personally want to accomplish with our position and what we think the future of our position and chapter are. Once our ulterior motives are out there, we get to work bettering the chapter. A big success is a goal setting session. Each executive board needs to start out their term by setting goals for the chapter. And each officer needs to set personal goals for their own position. This will set a tone of success at the beginning of the term that will hopefully carry out for the year that they are in office.
Next, you all need to come together as friends. Sure, they’re all your brothers, but are you good friends with all of your brothers? Good enough to be able to call them out on their mistakes, help them through rough times, and hold them accountable? If not, get there. Being friends will open up an environment of communication and accountability. How do you become closer friends? Hang out together. Get to know each other outside of the fraternity better than you previously did. Eat meals together. Whatever you choose to do, your executive board will be easier to work with and run more smoothly if you are all friends and have more open lines of communication with each other.
Another thing that you need to do is to effectively communicate your goals and plans with the rest of your chapter. The worst thing in the world is when your chapter has one idea of what’s going on and your executive board has another. Transparency is a wonderful thing. Obviously, there are some things that the executive board needs to do behind closed doors and keep to themselves, but the majority of the business should be public knowledge. Something that I’ve found to help transparency between the chapter and exec is to keep our meetings public. If someone wants to sit in and see what goes on during an executive board meeting that is their right. Clearly this person can’t vote on any issues that need a vote but they can be there for the discussion and see how things work. This is especially helpful in giving potential leaders an insight into your position.
The last piece of advice that I can give on building an effective executive board is to always strive for improvement inside the executive board and of its members. Whether this means having execs attend leadership training like UIFI or on the national level or doing some light outside reading, it will be a worthy investment. Take time for relaxation as well. Schedule an executive retreat and just go somewhere where you don’t discuss chapter business for a few hours or a weekend. All of us need time to recharge, especially the guys who are in charge.