As you went through the rush process you were introduced to the Rush Chairman, the Vice President, perhaps the Alumni Chairman. But if you were really lucky you got to speak with the President. You may have said to yourself that leadership stuff isn’t for me just yet, or you have may wanted to learn how these guys had gained so much respect and the ability to lead. There is no secret formula to how these guys do it, but there is no doubt that fraternity life teaches you to respect upper management and top leader positions in the fraternity workplace. Perhaps it is fear that you might not be good enough to join, or the basic fear of letting someone down whom you respect which can drive you to work harder.
I was the kid who thought, “Wow, I just met the President of the Fraternity. I want to be like that guy.” As a young member, the glamour, the recognition, and the perks seem like a great trade off for what is believed to be a few hours of work during the already busy school week for an officer position. However, as you age through the fraternity system and you work to become elected to these positions, you slowly come to realize that the glamour, recognition, and perks aren’t always enough to compensate for the stress that comes from leading a fraternity.
So now I would like to compare the pros and cons of holding a leadership position in your fraternity (or sorority). Before I begin with the cons, know that my goal of this article is not to turn anyone away from the challenge, but rather it is to encourage them to conquer the challenge. Let me start by telling you that you will lose a ton of couch time. Instead of looking at Buzzfeed and Facebook you’ll be emailing constantly. My first position in my fraternity was t-shirt chair, which at the time seemed as simple as designing badass shirts with fratty stuff on them. Design your own wardrobe… what a dream job. Little did I know that I would be sending 8-10 emails daily and calling multiple times a week to ensure our shirts would be received on time and printed correctly. If you’re reading this as an upperclassman 8-10 emails seems like a joke, but think back to freshman year when you could barely type three sentences in an email and you accidently sent your Rock to Bach professor an email with LOL and IDK mixed in the text. As you take on higher positions in your fraternity this couch time decreases even more. The fact is that to do the great things our greek organizations do we have to get them approved, approved again, and approved some more, and that takes time and effort dealing with numerous parties to get things accomplished.
Another con is the fact that you will no longer be everyone’s best friend. Sometimes you will have to make the decision that you know is right for your chapter and that decision will piss people off. The reality is that those people are being narrow-minded and do not understand the issue at hand completely. As Vice President sitting on the Executive Council, I have been in those meetings where you had to expel the guy who had been on academic probation since freshman year with a 1.8 GPA and by letting him go our council knew that it was going to piss some people off—but as they say, “you gotta do what you gotta do.” Another way you may piss your brothers off is when you know you have to push them to get shit done. This is usually a problem when dealing with guys who are older than you or are in your Associate/Pledge class. It can be tough to handle these situations but if handled with class and caution the person who needed that motivation will most likely come back and thank you for getting them on track. Now lets talk about the pros of holding a leadership position in a fraternity now. A huge pro is that you being elected to a position means that you have some level of respect from your chapter. Having the respect of over a hundred men is an accomplishment and can help you out in a number of ways. When members see the hard work you are doing on a consistent basis they begin to ask how they can help you out, and being able to ask for favors from a pool of over a hundred guys is a pretty nice advantage. The other pros are obvious, gratification when you’ve done good work, recognition for your hard work, and seeing your chapter thrive thanks to your efforts. But the real pros of becoming an officer are the after effects and what you learn while you’re in office. The real experience doesn’t come from initially realized pros. After you’ve held office you realize that the cons and what you learned from those experiences were the pros all along. After reading my list of cons you should realize that they are not cons at all, they’re simply growing experiences. Being able to get your ass of the couch and get things done is a highly valuable learning experience. While some of your peers struggle to get out of bed in the morning or to get to class, you will be learning how to wake up during regular business hours and start getting things done in the AM. The major pro that comes from a perceived con of leadership is relationship management. The first time you come into conflict with a member may be a rocky and rough encounter, but as you think and reflect you find new ways to handle difficult situations. You become more transparent in explaining why you’re making some crucial decisions for your chapter and you learn how to approach a potentially explosive situation with a goal to defuse and resolve problems. A fraternity is a unique place to learn and grow as a man and being a leader in an organization that is built to support you as you do grow is something to take advantage of. Along with the cool factor of saying you hold a leadership position in your fraternity, you will encounter numerous valuable experiences that will help you throughout your entire life.