Leading the Way

De Facto Leader

I would be content to follow,
To allow someone else 
The front seat, 
     if I can just get the job done.
I have no desire to stand in front
To shake my fist in the air
Or rally the troops--
Until I see injustice,
     realize the world around me
No one else is stepping up,
No one else is here to see what I see,
And I find myself taking charge
Putting people in their place
    for the sake of the bigger picture...

BGLOs and Leadership

Some people are natural born leaders. Some of us, however, have a tendency to only lead when put in the position of obligation. Since leadership experience is usually granted to people through voting and campaigning, a lot of people from that category rarely end up cultivating their skills. Fortunately, when you join a small organization leadership is thrust upon you. At most schools, BGLOs tend to have smaller numbers in their chapters than most organizations on campus, especially at schools with a lower percentage of black students. When I became Greek, the largest BGLO chapter on my campus had about 30 people in it and the smallest organizations had 2. I joined one of the smallest organizations and thus, at the same moment I became a member of the organization, I also became the Vice-President of the chapter (along with a host of other positions). 

Joining Other Organizations

If you read the post Put Your Best Foot Forward, you'll remember I discuss the impact of positive peer pressure on image due to chapter affiliations. This principle also holds for leadership. To gain membership in a BGLO, most organizations expect that you are already active in other organizations within the community and displaying leadership skills. If you managed to join with out being active in another organization, once you join you'll most likely be persuaded into taking up leadership positions in other organizations. For the first case, it's easy to say that BGLOs aren't actually providing those people with leadership skills, however, many of those people take those positions solely to look good to the organization they would like to join.

For instance, in high school, I was in almost every honor society my high school had to offer, not because I was overly enthused by the subject matter but because I knew they looked good on college applications; that was what I was "supposed" to do, so I did it. BGLOs can have that effect as well. For those who walk on to campus knowing that they want to be Greek and see that the members of the organization they are interested in are highly active on campus in professional, service, educational, etc. organizations on top of their Greek affiliation, it is a cue to that person that they should be involved as well. Regardless of how BGLOs influence the decision to become active in other organizations, once you genuinely begin partaking in the events and meetings of an organization you automatically begin generating ideas and plans for the organization. The leadership abilities you may have suppressed begin to surface, forcing you to take charge. 

Finding the Passion to Lead

As the Vice-President of my organization, I had to fill in for the President on numerous occasions, but I was also invited to talk to the Vice-President of Student Affairs and attend various forums, workshops, etc. on a regular basis. These events spurred thoughts about the state of Greek life, the sate of being a black student on campus, being a student on campus in general, and many more that I would never have spent much time thinking about otherwise. Suddenly, I found myself thinking of ways to correct problems and having a desire to implement change. Naturally, if you were on an executive board of another organization, these opportunities would be presented to you, but in my case (and many others), I would never have volunteered to be on an executive board in the first place. Furthermore, Greek life forces you to go to educational talks on topics most people take for granted as a college student: hazing awareness, alcohol awareness, safety, etc. Most of these topics you already assume what the speaker will say to you, but when you actually attend and witness the effects that these topics are having on your campus (Greek or non-Greek), a passion stirs in you to do something about those topics. While a BGLO is not the only place for you to find topics you are passionate about to drive you into leadership positions, it is definitely chock full of opportunities. At the very least, if you join a small organization you will automatically be placed in leadership positions and if you join a large organization you acquire the voting power to win elections in other organizations.

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