Working With Your Brothers & Sisters

May 11, 2011

Fraternities and sororities present unique leadership opportunities. On the one hand, they offer the ability for members to take on leadership roles and responsibilities they have yet to try, and on ther other, present challenging dillemas where “unqualified” people may potentially be leading a project they have no idea how to complete.

In the business world, an old adage goes “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

The saying is interesting in that by empowering people to go above and beyond, versus outlining the exact steps for them, people will be creative and will figure out a problem and how to solve it. I’m a firm believer in this methodology because of the following reasons.

The first reason is because there’s always room for improvement. If you have a current method of raising funds, or hosting your annual pancake breakfast, there’s probably always some room to improve it further. When not presented with a checklist or itemized to-do list, people get creative. They think of new ideas and oftentimes these new ideas can lead to innovation. That’s not to say you should reinvent the wheel each time, but when you provide little guidance, often times this is where people step up and shine.

Secondly, when you tell people how to do things, a lot of people shut off, or just do the bare minimums. These “steps” once checked off are not revisited and for many that extra step is never taken.

And lastly, sometimes failure is the strongest tool to learn from. When a person learns from their mistakes, they often grow stronger. When you’re providing a event or employee review, often times this feedback resonates with that person. Instead of telling them how to host the next philanthropy event, let them test out different ways they’d like to run it.

You’d be surprised.

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