Nugget# 2: Club Members Apathetic or Underutilized?
As a student leader, have you ever thought that the members of your club were apathetic; or that “if you wanted it done right, you would have to do it yourself”? It would not be an exaggeration to tell you that these are the two most common statements that I have heard from student leaders. These statements tend to be immediately followed by a request for help to motivate and better utilize their members. Let me share with you some ways to look at these phrases and how they can be indicative of your leadership style, more than the club member. I hope these thoughts will help you to shift how you think about and experience being a leader.
The first question I ask student leaders is why do you think members are apathetic. The typical answer leans toward the factual definition of apathy as a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. However, the next set of questions focus on metacognition and how can better understand how they lead. The answers to these questions can help a student rethink how they are leading. Here are a few of the questions I ask the student leader concerning apathy:
- How many students are on your membership roster?
- How many of these members do you know personally?
- Do you have subcommittees?
- How many members are on a subcommittee?
- How many of them attend your meetings (weekly, biweekly, monthly)?
- What role can members play if they cannot attend a regular meeting?
- Who makes the plans for the club members and officers, or officers only?
After asking and receiving answers to these questions, I am better equipped to provide specific insight to the student leader on how to lead more effectively. Utilizing some minor leadership technique tweaks, I can help student leader turn their organization into one of the most powerful and influential on campus. However, the leader will have to give up their pride and any self-centered need for self-recognition to help their members be more engaged.
When I hear student leaders proudly exclaim, “if you wanted it done right, you would have to do it yourself,” then I get the sense that this student may be controlling, a perfectionist, not a good communicator, or interested in building their resume with a title. A few of the questions that I ask the student leader who makes this statement include:
- Do people perceive you as bossy, controlling or too demanding?
- Do you see failure or mistakes within the organization as a reflection on you personally?
- Do you know how to delegate? Explain your process to me.
- Do you personally know the skill sets and strengths of your members?
Simply taking the time to care about your club members as individuals and their interest in being in this club can help you serve them more effectively. The more you serve the developmental needs of your members, the more they will serve you and the organization. This small change will increase group engagement and productivity for your organization.
At the end of the day, your members may not be apathetic or at all. They may feel ignored and when a person does not feel you are listening, they may shut down, become unmotivated, complain, or even sabotage your efforts. So, take the time to learn your “staff” and how they can best serve the club or organization. This is step one in helping members find their place within the club or organization. You will see more productivity. No one will remember if you fail, but everyone will remember how you made them feel a part of something bigger than themselves.
For more information on my unique leadership training program for college student leaders, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org