As a leader in your chapter or your campus community you are constantly looking for ways to improve your organization. You can focus on increasing community service and philanthropy, providing more leadership workshops, or focus on the academics of your organization. All of these are commendable ways to improve your organization, but what if you could do something that caused all of these things to happen as a result? Well, you can.
It’s pretty simple; just turn your chapter into a learning organization.
But what exactly is a learning organization? It is an organization that not only infuses learning into everything that they do, but also encourages all members of the organization to be constantly developing and bettering themselves. When your membership is devoted to learning they will seek out ways to improve themselves and then the chapter as a whole will thrive. Here are a few things you can do to begin transforming your chapter into a learning organization.
Read and Talk
No matter what you may be doing it is always important to know what others around you are doing. One of the best ways to do this is to read. Tap into your campus newspaper and see what other organizations are doing on your campus. See what events you or your members could benefit from attending. If your Fraternity and Sorority Life office sends out a newsletter with information, read through it before you delete it. Be sure to read along with national news as well. You would be surprised what great information you may come across as you begin to look around.
Another great source of information is your own organization. Check out your organization’s inter/national website and see what kinds of articles they may be putting out. This will give you great information about what may be happening at the national level that will affect your own chapter. It also gives you insight into what other chapters may be doing that you can replicate within your own chapter.
Reading in itself is great, but you need to debrief the things you talk about with your membership. This is a great way to see how the same article may have been interpreted by different people and what ideas it may have sparked within each of them.
The conversations that emerge after reading are just as important as what you may decide to read.
Develop Your Membership
Begin to take advantage of all opportunities you can to help develop your members in all facets of their lives. A key part of this is to know what things your members want so you can direct them to the proper venues.
Look around your own campus and see what types of programming is offered. Do you have members who are looking for leadership development? Then encourage them to attend a leadership workshop series or to take a leadership class that may be offered. If your campus offers any kind of programming directed at the fraternity and sorority population, be sure your chapter is represented at these events.
Your national organization most likely offers some type of a leadership program or other types of conferences that may be targeted at certain skills. Support members that are interested in attending these conferences. Help provide some payment to offset the cost of travel if you are able to do so. Your national organization may also provide webinars on an array of topics. If you think they could be of use to any of your members, make the recommendation.
As with reading an important part of members’ attendance at these programs, conferences, and webinars is the ability for those members to report back to everyone what they may have learned or what additional thoughts may have been created. This will do two things: first it will allow others to learn from their experience and second it will tell the member who attended that their time and effort was valued and appreciated.
Create a Culture of Learning
It is important to incorporate the ideas of the learning organization into everything your chapter does. One great way to do this is to set aside a time within your chapter meetings to talk about some of articles you’ve read or letting some of your members talk about the workshops or conferences they may have attended.
Give members some time to put together a presentation on what they learned at a conference and allow them to give some ideas about what they think could apply to your chapter. Start a discussion based on their thoughts and see where things go. Some of the greatest ideas for your chapter’s growth could come from these kinds of conversations.
Provide reflection time for your chapter leadership. After you’ve completed your annual philanthropy event be sure to ask what went well and what you could do better for next year. By pushing your membership to be reflective they will learn more about themselves and how they can help make your events better.
Lastly, just remember to constantly share what you find with members you think would be interested. As a leader in your chapter, you will set the example for other members to follow and soon enough they’ll begin to do the same.
Today I challenge you to turn your chapter into a learning organization. Remember to read and talk, develop your membership, and create a culture of learning. By doing these things your chapter will begin to grow.