Nugget# 2: Are Your Club Members Apathetic or Underutilized?

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 cnfulford2009@gmail.com

 

My Journey to Leadership as a Student of Color at a PWI

Cynthia FulfordI remember when I was a college bound student in one of the TRIO programs, I had an awesome mentor who encouraged me to read as much as I could on what it meant to be Black in America. He told me that I needed to understand my history, so that I would be prepared to confidently stand up for what was right when the time came.  He assured me that that time was coming and I needed to be ready. He gave me books to read by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, a prolific writer on educating African American males and children. He told me about African American Women leaders such as bell hooks, Dr. Johnnetta Cole, Marian Edelman Wright and more. The more he shared on the Black man’s contribution to History, the more I learned that I would have to be responsible for my own learning and development on any topic.

Had he not encouraged me to read these particular types of books, I may not have been prepared for the journey that most, if not all, African-American (and other “minoritized”) students would take on college campuses. In fact, I remember someone jokingly saying, “If you want to hide something from a Black person, put it in a book.” I interpreted that to mean any ignorance and resulting consequences would be our own fault and undoing. I didn’t know it then, but that “joke” would spark a fire in me to read, share that information with those who won’t read and model this behavior for others to mimic or adopt.

Interestingly, I would devour books of all genres. I read autobiographies, biographies, self-help, African-American history, leadership books and the Bible. When I got to campus I even read the student and club handbooks (which saved me many times). I read it all. This thirst for knowledge, while contributing to my social awkwardness, also exposed me to “hidden” knowledge that helped me strategically survive four (4) years in an predominantly white institution that had two black professionals on campus, numerous black staff who were in food service and maintenance (thank God for their support), no black faculty, and one cultural awareness group, that didn’t fully serve our needs.

It was tough being in an environment where it was rumored to have a student chapter of the Ku Klux Klan on campus in one of the fraternity houses; where a professor could openly called me ignorant without repercussion; where students called me the N-word and told me that I was only admitted because of my skin color. This was a campus where campus programs and events were planned without the racial or cultural developmental interests of the students of color or students in general. Yet, not only did I survive that campus, I thrived on that campus. I have as many fond memories of my Alma Mater and believe the school is better because of my contribution as a student leader.

Due to the fact that I have a mother who was an educational and political activist, I was encouraged and pushed to get an education and make a difference. Equipped with this foundation and background, I knew that my peers and I were not being holistically educated. I decided that if change were going to happen, I would have to lead it.

Read more on my early leadership journey in the next installment…

For more information on how to secure me for speaking or leadership training opportunities, send an email to me at cnfulford2009@gmail.com