A semester can feel like an entire year to some college students. The syllabi are unforgiving, the professors are demanding (to put it kindly), and student leaders' plans give them headaches or sighs of relief. If you're Greek, you're built for this! Leadership isn't just a topic to you, it's a way of life--at least it should be.
Let's understand leadership. It is a skill that can be learned and mastered. "Born leaders" are those who have a knack for leading but still have a lot to learn. They're like athletes who are naturally strong and fast but could benefit handsomely from learning the finer points of their sports. Other athletes don't have the natural abilities but learn the physical and mental techniques to master their sports. The same holds true for those who may not be "born leaders." Make no mistake about it, your peers who are not Greek are observing your development as a leader.
Like it or not, I believe that it's fair for Greeks to pay attention to what other students think. Think about it, we're walking billboards for our fraternities and sororities. We party, make lots of noise, collect awards, and create elaborate promotional videos. Those of us in African American fraternities and sororities add some hot sauce to Greek life by vaingloriously reciting our histories, missions, lists of notable members, and by stepping our hearts out. 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 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. The evidence is increased membership, more well-attended events, serving as leading voices about campus issues, and/or consistently meeting your community service 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 happy to see one another. Since you belong to a fraternity or sorority, your peers observe very closely how you relate to one another. Do you look comfortable hanging out or do you hang out due to obligation?
Brotherhood and sisterhood are tested the most during times of adversity. How do you manage defending your brothers or sisters when that vicious campus rumor mill gets going or when a story about your chapter hits the internet? When your brothers or sisters mess up—and they will—will your peers witness improved behavior as a result of having handled things behind closed doors? To be sure, a great leader makes sure chapter issues are handled privately.
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 high grades and how students move the needle on campus issues. While administrators may not "alert the media" about which students they respect, 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 and it takes work. Remember, however, that great leadership is about the future of your chapter as well as your fraternity or sorority. So honor your letters by being that great leader.