Connecting with Undergraduates in a Position of Leadership

**This article was written by Chapter Support Coach Avery Baker (Lycoming College IB, ‘14). 

“If two people trust each other, they have a relationship. If there is no trust, there is no relationship… teams are built on relationships.” – Jocko Willink, Leadership Strategy and Tactics 

The authentic, genuine connection between two or more parties creates the foundation for any significant relationship. The leaders of Lambda Chi Alpha must understand how to build a healthy community because no man, or chapter/colony, is an island. To do this, they need to grasp the broader principles and small behaviors of connecting with others. The best leaders build relationships to gain trust or respect with their superiors and subordinates, not attention and favor. The wellbeing of the team should outweigh the ego of the individual. Since the welfare of the group is most important, leaders must take ownership whenever possible. An individual’s ability to reflect and see where they are wrong may be one of the most critical principles in leadership and building relationships.  

One of the most effective ways to build a relationship, and ultimately trust, is to complete tasks or goals assigned. High Zeta Officers can make opportunities each week with the implementation of Goal Setting & Review. They can utilize this process to create recruitment plans or plan philanthropy and social events efficiently. The better and more consistently one performs without drama, complaints, or searching for praise, the more clout and influence someone gains when significant issues arise. 

Avery Baker (Lycoming College IB, ‘14) and Arnold Chew (Lycoming College IB, ‘18) during High Alpha Summit/Neville Advisors College 2020.

This influence should assist leaders of Lambda Chi Alpha to communicate the ideas and potential concerns that teams have. Effective and open communication stems from relationships regardless of positional authority. Our best undergraduate leaders develop a goal-oriented committee system to use the relationship-building tools mentioned earlier. These open lines of communication will also help leaders understand the motivation and expectations of those they work with to improve interpersonal relationships.  

Conveying and understanding personal stories constructs the deep relationships needed to serve our team and succeed. It would benefit any person to write down their story to realize the doctrines that govern their decisions. These insights build the confidence needed to convey a captivating narrative. However, communicating this storyline is only a small part of constructing relationships. Asking useful questions and practicing active listening assists us in sharing our experience, strength, and hope with our communities. Here are five (5) questions to use in conversations to learn more about someone else: 

  • Why… 
  • How… 
  • Tell me (more) about…  
  • Help me understand…
  • Explain to me…

These open-ended questions apply to any situation, from Fraternity to jobs, to friendships to romantic relationships.  Membership in Lambda Chi Alpha gives opportunities to learn how to leverage relationships in Fraternal and professional environments. Chapter Support Coaches work with chapter leaders to challenge the process and improve leadership skills. There are times where Coaches and chapter leaders disagree over actions that are best for chapter members. The way they handle this conflict matters more than the cause.  

Avery Baker (Lycoming College IB, ‘14) leading the Pink Group during the Stead Leadership Seminar 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri.

First, each party needs to ask if this interaction will move the relationship forward or backward by considering if their ego fuels their concerns. Then, they take ownership of the misunderstanding and ask how they can better understand the mission to serve the team. Influential leaders avoid directly and harshly criticizing the ideas of those around them. Respectful push back to specific ideas and plans builds relationships, trust, and moves the competency of the crew forward. These approaches must be balanced because leaders should not be “yes-men.” These tactics are shaped well in the work environment of Lambda Chi Alpha because it’s a people-oriented business; it’s all about relationships. 

Lambda Chi Alpha recognizes the importance and variety of relationships in the lives of its members. The Office of Administration offers summer internships and career opportunities for both undergraduates and graduates. Please visit the Careers Page or contact your chapter’s/colony’s Coach to learn more about these opportunities. The General Fraternity has also started a partnership with the One Love Foundation dedicated to providing programming and support for our members to navigate personal relationships. To learn more about the One Love Foundation partnership, please visit the Service Leadership Partnership Page and the ChopTalk podcast episode #38. 

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