Monday, November 24, 2008

Leadership Nominating Committee

Leadership Nominating Committee
Were we looking for the right qualities and experience?

Watch out y’all! An inside look into sororities…

A little background:

As an active member of Pi Beta Phi (Pi Phi), one is expected to serve in at least one position throughout the three and a half years. There are over 50 positions in the house ranging from extremely active such as the executive board, to the intramural sports chair. I had a few positions throughout my time; however the most important position I had was the co-chair of the Leadership and Nominating Committee (LNC). This committee, made up of two girls from each of the sophomore, junior, and senior classes, is the only committee appointed by the President. All other positions in Pi Phi are applied for and consist of an application stating skills and experience, as well as an interview process. The purpose of LNC is to read every application, interview, and place the Pi Phis into their appropriate positions. This process becomes somewhat of a puzzle with over 50 positions and over 120 girls in the house and takes up to a few weeks to complete.

Now onto the class relevance:
Essentially, LNC chooses leaders from a group of applicants who must continue to uphold Pi Phi values and steer the sorority in the right direction. We, as committee members, looked specifically for experience and leadership qualities. We wanted to make sure that the applicant was responsible, sociable, dependable, and was able to make good judgments. They should have had experience in the field they were applying for, for example: a girl applying for the philanthropy position should have had experience with community service, etc. Also, the girls should have been able to work well with the others in their cohorts horizontally and vertically (this is where the puzzle comes in). LNC members who serve on the committee their junior year typically become co-chairs of LNC their senior year and learn from experience. One thing we learned from previous years was that those applicants who work well together develop a good rapport and are better equipped at motivating the other Pi Phis in the house to join in on their activities.

After examining the readings from this class, I have come to find that our idea of leadership in LNC was a combination of born vs. made. We believed that both trait theory and experience played a part in the leaders we chose to run our organization. There were many of Stogdill’s characteristics often written on our sheets as possible adjectives to use while we discussed applicants. But like McGregor, we made sure to understand that experience could make up for a lack of traits, and that “skills and attitudes…can be acquired by people who differ widely in their inborn traits and abilities”. We also believed, like Selznick that leadership was an active process and would have to take place within the relationship of the leaders and followers, therefore it was important to make sure that the applicants would get along. Another aspect of leadership that we worked on was the adaptability of applicants in their specific positions. We made sure that the applicants would get along with the other girls well and be able to adapt to difficult situations. As Rost has explained, “the only possible way for people to cope with such multiple relationships is for them to be leaders in some relationships and followers in others”.

Through reliving my experiences on LNC, I have found that not only were we pretty accurate at choosing leaders, but we ourselves were leaders! We were the designers of the sorority. “Leadership in learning organizations centers on subtler and ultimately more important work” (Senge, 1990). We were chosen for good reason by our President (most of us had some sort of leadership position before and were studying psychology in some fashion), and were able to put it to good use. Since we were appointed to the position and had ample chances to deny, we all had the intrinsic motivation necessary to carry out our position as creators of the new face of Pi Phi. We all brought unique qualities and experiences to the table and were able to work well with each other deliberating decisions for hours. The only limitation I could see in our leadership style is Janis’ idea of groupthink. Due to our long hours considering many applicants for many positions, at the end of the day we may have all wanted to agree and remained loyal to the group instead of voicing a differing opinion.

Thank you for reading up on Pi Phi and have a great Thanksgiving break!