by Carole Jurenko Jones, Alpha Delta (U of Alabama), 2017-2019 NPC Chairman
Just as the seasons cycle, so does change happen — in the world, in our lives and within our College Panhellenics and the National Panhellenic Conference. Each new generation brings excitement and potential to sorority life, and each older generation leaves a legacy. As sorority women of all ages, one of the greatest opportunities we have is to serve others. Shar McBee, author of “To Lead Is to Serve: How to Attract Volunteers and Keep Them,” writes that “In order to lead people, we must learn to serve them.” Following are six of her 12 steps toward servant leadership that I try to follow and ways you can incorporate these principles into your life:
First, be welcoming. People feel happiest when they belong. Everyone wants to be included. Think about how you can be more welcoming to all. Remember: First impressions are lasting impressions.
Second, show appreciation. Gratitude attracts support; appreciation creates success. Express your appreciation often. Oprah Winfrey has stated that the two most important words are “thank you.” Most of us keep a daily “to do” list. How about adding a “thank you” section to your list?
Third, listen. John F. Kennedy said, “One way to judge our effectiveness as a leader is by the amount of honest feedback we get.” The only way to get honest feedback is to listen. Taking time to listen can be our greatest contribution. Listening makes people feel valued. When we listen, we learn. Sometimes it is difficult to listen to people who don’t agree with us or share our viewpoint, but if we are open to suggestions, the whole organization can benefit.
Fourth, sacrifice. Are you willing to do more than you ask others to do? The word sacrifice means “to make sacred.” People often think of sacrifice as having to give up something; that’s not really what it’s all about. It can actually be noble to sacrifice. When something is given up, it can make room for something better to evolve. Helen Keller once said, “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”What she meant is sacrifice doesn’t have to be large to be noble. By helping each other daily, we can achieve greatness.
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” – Helen Keller
Fifth, inspire and inform. Inspiration creates energy, and energy creates action and results by others. Give information freely; people like to be informed, especially about their own work. Inspire and inform others by sharing your favorite experience as a sorority woman, telling an uplifting story or reading a letter of appreciation. In addition, leaders have a duty to replace themselves. In developing future leaders, we must inform them of our duties and responsibilities and inspire them to carry out those duties.
And sixth, have fun every day. This is my personal favorite. Humor does many wonderful things for our body, mind and spirit. Be careful about taking yourself too seriously. If we take ourselves too seriously, chances are we have a huge ego, which will shatter sooner or later. Think about those times when you’ve had fun with your Panhellenic sisters. When we do some tasks in a playful manner, they become much easier and we get more cooperation.
We all have many opportunities to make an impact this year as we focus on creating the cultures we aspire to build everywhere. As leaders, it starts with us to be role models for servant leadership and listen and learn as we work toward the advancement of the sorority experience.