Leading the way to a better campus
Student organization leaders, members must show interest to keep clubs alive
Many students think a leader must be attractive, eloquent or at least intelligent. Actually, any motivated person can be a leader. Unfortunately, most organizations at Texas A&M have the same mistaken notion of a leader.
Very few campus organizations actually attempt to develop leaders. Most groups try to identify students who are already leaders, then harness their abilities.
A&M needs more organizations that will train anyone to become a leader. Too many campus groups are far too exclusive to cultivate leaders.
The Student Government Association has a large number of committees which could be prime breeding ground for leaders. Instead, most committees are exclusive, requiring a lengthy application and interview process to join.
The new Howdy Committee, for example, chose 35 members from over 100 applications. It makes no sense for this type of organization to prevent more than 60 interested students from joining its ranks. They can always use more people to post fliers, distribute stickers and propagandize campus.
Most SGA committees are organized similarly. This arrangement does not develop new leaders, but rather exploits students who already are leaders.
It is more effective to open leadership circles to all motivated students. This benefits the organization in many ways. Members can become more involved and become more dedicated to the group. The club has more trained students who are ready to assume officer positions.
When groups refuse to train new leaders, they prevent both students and organizations from reaching their potential.
Almost every campus organization has a problem with finding lasting leadership. Usually everything runs smoothly for a few years until the entire panel of officers graduates, leaving a huge void.
An effective leader must dedicate a large portion of his of her time to expanding the leadership of his or her organization. Each officer should train at least a few students who can take that officer's responsibilities later.
Even outstanding presidents do their clubs a disservice if they do not leave behind people who can continue to lead the club. Campus is strewn with the remains of clubs that had one or two great years before they sunk into oblivion when their founders earned a diploma and left town.
When most groups select potential leaders, they examine outward traits like looks, speech or economic status. Since these are not the most important characteristics for a leader, campus organizations end up with a wide range of problems.
A former member of the Communist Party in England, Douglas Hyde, was once approached by a simple, disheveled man with a terrible stutter who asked Hyde to turn him into a leader. Hyde accepted the challenge, and through confidence building and hard work, the man became an officer in his union and recruited dozens of new workers for the communist cause.
Most A&M organizations would never have given a person like this a second look, and they would lose a resource.
Anyone with motivation is an asset. They may need training and they may not be effective in certain areas of service, but can be useful if someone recognizes their value.
Dave Johnston is a senior mathematics major.