Guest Blogger: Coley Spencer, Alpha Kappa-University of Tennessee
‘I never thought I would hold a major leadership position in Alpha Delta Pi. I’ve always enjoyed being active in organizations but having all eyes on me in a role like Formal Recruitment Chair was something that made me anxious. To be honest, I never believed myself to be the ‘stereotypical sorority girl’ that I thought held these types of positions. But life never seems to work out the way you expect it to! In the second semester of my junior year, my chapter had to have re-elections for FRC and I found myself drawn to the idea, not being able to get it out of my head. Low and behold, I submitted my application with about an hour to spare and was elected as Alpha Kappa’s Formal Recruitment Chair that week.
Leading a group of 140 of your peers through both Spirit Week and Recruitment is an intimidating task to say the least. Will they listen to me? Do they think I’m fit for this position? Could someone else do a better job? So many insecurities ran through my head.
As I talked to others while preparing, it soon became clear that there are countless views on what makes a successful recruitment. Each chapter member has their own opinions; some girls will speak up and share, while some will stay quiet. Some suggestions you can take and others you can’t. This led me to the greatest challenge of this job—my desire to listen to every woman’s voice and grant her wish. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to please 140 different people with 140 different opinions, and that is what upset me the most: the fact that I couldn’t make each of our chapter members happy.
Although there was no absolute solution to this problem, there were many things I learned that helped along the way and that I will carry with me well past my college years.
First, I learned that if you invest in people and hold relationships with them, they are much more likely to follow your lead. This could mean sitting with a different group of people at lunch, writing a sister a note, or engaging in a conversation with someone about her summer. Every girl has something interesting about themselves that they would love to share. You just have to find it! Let’s be honest, you may be sorority sisters with someone, but that doesn’t mean you know everything about them. Getting out of your comfort zone and talking to someone outside of your usual group of friends can be intriguing!
Second, I learned that staying optimistic in times of frustration and chaos may be hard but always led to a better outcome. It helps people trust you. Things aren’t always going to go as planned—especially when running through the house in between rounds or when trying to get 100 girls in line before that scary one minute knock—but I found that speaking harshly to girls is not going to help. There is a way to be assertive and get tasks accomplished, while remaining calm, respectful, and positive.
Third, I learned that you should not be afraid to ask for help. I am often tentative to turn to others. I feel like I shouldn’t take their time, assume they have something else to do, or I feel I should do it myself. But if I had kept that attitude, a stressful week of recruitment would have become even more stressful. Girls were always asking me what they could do. My senior pledge class consistently stepped up to the plate and helped me make both spirit week and recruitment the best it could be. People are willing to help when you are grateful. It made me extremely proud to be surrounded by this group of selfless, caring women.
Lastly, I learned that leading humbly and patiently makes for a positive environment and experience for everyone. Treating each person as an equal instead of as younger girls who were just supposed to do what I say made people feel appreciated and important. Everyone’s voice is valid. Just because a girl is not as involved or has not been in the chapter as long, does not mean her opinion should not be heard. I had the best role model for this approach in our president, Ellie Gaffney! Ellie embodies the idea of leading humbly and rarely takes credit for her many successes. I was fortunate to get to stand next to her throughout the process and share in leading our outstanding chapter of ADPi.’