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Organization Leadership

On this page, find tips to help you run your organization including how to run a meeting, delegation and motivation, conflict management and end of the year organization overview.

How to Run a Meeting

Running an effective meeting takes preparation and practice. This resource outlines how to plan for and run an effective meeting.

Before the Meeting:

  • Identify a clear purpose and goal(s) for the meeting
  • Create an agenda
  • Advertise meeting to members
  • Confirm location and gather supplies including food, flip chart, handouts, visual aids
  • Send out any information members will need to familiarize themselves with before the meeting
  • Know the participants including their level of understanding about the group, topic, etc.

Preparing an Agenda:

  • Use a consistent agenda format for continuity
  • Ask for input from other group offices and committee chairs
  • Include information about upcoming meetings

At the Meeting:

  • Arrive early to make sure equipment works and to get organized
  • Start and end on time
  • Greet members and make them feel welcome, even the late ones
  • Stick to the agenda and keep the discussion moving but encourage group discussion
  • Delegate responsibilities and establish due dates.
  • Give members a voice in decision-making.
  • Recap any important decisions, assignments or deadlines before meeting adjourns

After the Meeting:

  • Transcribe minutes soon after the meeting, when your memory is still fresh.
  • Follow the format used in previous minutes.
  • Consider attaching long resolutions, reports, or other supplementary material.
  • Distribute the minutes within 24 hours to all members and place a copy chronologically in a record book
  • Prepare for the next meeting
  • Above all, give recognition and appreciation to members for excellent and timely progress!

Remember, if your meetings are too long, unorganized, and boring, your members will probably lose interest and not attend any meetings.

Sample Agenda:

  1. Call to Order
  2. Approval of Minutes
  3. Agenda Overview
  4. Special Guests
  5. Officer Reports
  6. Committee Reports
  7. New Business
  8. Announcements

Adapted From:

  • University of Virginia — Office of the Dean of Students
  • Wheaton College Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership
  • Eastern Connecticut State University Student Center and Student Activities Office

Delegation and Motivation

Motivation is not an exact science, but there are a few things you can do to keep your members interested and motivated to helping the team. Often times, leaders or managers struggle with delegating important tasks. Common reasons for not delegating include the following:

  • Insufficient time
  • The perception that the job is too important to take risks
  • The leader's belief that he/she/ze can do the job best
  • A lack of confidence in the group members
  • The desire to maintain control

Here are a few quick tips to ensure you are motivating your members through motivation:

  • Delegate responsibility to members. Give credit where it is due and praise in public.
  • Make your wishes known by suggestions or requests, not demands, and explain why.
  • Never forget that the leader sets the style for her/his members. So show your members that you have confidence in them and you expect them to do their best.
  • When you are wrong or make a mistake, admit it. Don't be upset by little mistakes - it's a learning process.
  • Give members a chance to take part in decisions, particularly those affecting them.

Delegation

The best way to motivate and retain members is through delegation. Most people think this mean clean-up duty or pointless tasks, but the approach to delegation should be more thoughtful. What strengths to your members possess. Use your members talents, experiences and connections to strengthen your organization.

Five Phase Approach to Delegation:

  1. Preparation: Establish the goals of the delegation task; list the expectations and deadlines.
  2. Planning: Describe all the tasks and decide who will take responsibility for which tasks.
  3. Discussion: Review objectives of the tasks as well as the plan for action; discussion potential obstacles and how to avoid them.
  4. Follow-Through: Trust they will complete the task but make yourself available for help and check in with them from time to time.
  5. Appreciation: Accept the completed tasks and acknowledge members' efforts. Make your gratitude timely and clearly communicated so they know exactly what they did well.

Adapted From:

  • University of Virginia, Office of the Dean of Students
  • Wheaton College Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership
  • Eastern Connecticut State University Student Center and Student Activities Office

Conflict Management

Students bring different ideas, goals, values, beliefs and needs to their teams and these differences are a primary strength of teams. These same differences inevitably lead to conflict, even if the level of conflict is low. Here are some tools and information to help manage conflict within your organization.

Follow these steps in a small or large group when a conflict has risen to the surface

Step 1: Announce the situation/problem to the group. Lay out as many facts and as much data as is necessary to prepare the group to make a decision. Using "I" Statements reflects your own feeling and opinion of the situation.

Step 2: Lead a discussion to find out where people stand on the issue. What do they think is the conflict? What do they think is the solution? Try to draw everyone out. Ask people not to get into discussions at this time but simply to state their opinions and ideas.

Step 3: Break into groups based on view point and have groups feed back to one another what they have heard the "opposing" sides say. It is a good idea to have the ideas written out on a flip chart for everyone to see as they present back to the larger group. Ask these groups not to berate the reasons of the other side, but to show they heard and understood the other side's point of view, even if they do not agree.

Step 4: Allow the groups to give feedback to the presenters, letting them know whether they presented their opinions accurately and whether any were left out. If any were left out, the presenting group should write these down in the words of the person(s) whose opinion it is. During this step, it is important that all sides have their ideas written out or heard accurately.

Step 5: Form small groups that are comprised of individuals representing each side of the conflict. Each group should come up with what it thinks is the common goal of all sides of the issue. Each small group will then present its goal to the larger group.

Step 6: Once a goal has been agreed on, the entire group brainstorms solutions to reach that goal.

Step 7: Clarify the brainstormed ideas, eliminate any that are unworkable, and discuss the merits of the remaining ideas.

Step 8: Find a few top ideas that are most appealing to the group and evaluate their potential effectiveness.

Step 9: Decide as a group on which idea is the best, combining more than one idea or reflecting on all ideas and looking for a better one.

Step 10: Decide how the group members will hold each other responsible for making sure the goal is achieved.

Once you are involved in a conflict, there are some very basic steps through the confrontation. If you have prepared yourself, you will have a much easier time getting through these steps successfully.

  • Describe how it is affecting performance (yours, the organization's, and the individual's you are speaking with)
  • Ask for the other viewpoint to be explained.
  • Find some common ground with the other person. Agree on the problem.
  • Explore and discuss possible solutions. Listen; leave your mind open for opinions differing from yours.
  • Agree on what each person will do to solve the problem.
  • Set a date for follow-up.

Adapted From:

  • The Foundation Coalition
  • Eastern Connecticut State University

Organization Transition Overview

At the end of each year, each group should anticipate having an officer transition period for the positions of those who will be graduating or leaving the group. An important function of an advisor is to help transition each officer's responsibilities to the next officer. This will help maintain the continuity of the group.

In order for a successful transition, this discussion should take place early to mid-spring semester in order to establish who is leaving, run elections and to transition the new officers. Transitioning new officers before the end of the year is extremely important to ensure that they have the resources and knowledge to successfully adapt and maintain the position held. The following are some suggestions to help ensure a successful transition.

The Team Effort

The team effort involves the outgoing-officer board, the advisor, and the incoming-officer board. This method involves a retreat or series of meetings where outgoing officers work with incoming officers on:

Past records "survival guide" for their records and updating those together

Discussion topics should include:

  • Completed projects for the past year.
  • Upcoming/incomplete projects.
  • Challenges and setbacks.
  • Anything the new officers need to know to do their job effectively.

The advisor's role may be to:

  • Facilitate discussion and be a sounding board for ideas.
  • Helping to organize and provide the structure of a retreat..
  • Offer suggestions on various questions.
  • Refrain from telling new officers what they should do.
  • Fill in the blanks. If an outgoing officer doesn't know how something was done, or doesn't have records to pass on to the new officer, you can help that officer by providing the information he or she doesn't have.

One-on-One Training, Advisor with Officers

It is ideal to have the outgoing officers assist in training the incoming officers; sometimes it is left up to the advisor to educate the incoming officers. In that situation, there should be a joint meeting of the new officers followed by individual meetings held with the Advisor.

The advisor may:

  • Examine the records of the previous officer (or create a new one). If creating a record include any forms the officers may need to use and copies of previous meeting agendas as well as a copy of the organization's charter and bylaws.
  • Provide historical background.
  • Help keep create specific organizational goals that are attainable and measurable
  • Provide advice on policies and procedures.
  • Help the student define their own expectations of the position and their goals
  • Discuss the expectations of each position

Survival Guide

Many student groups may choose to leave behind a survival guide to assist new incoming board members. This proves to be an irreplaceable resource if group's previous board members are unavailable for a transitioning period or if a group is being resurrected.

The document may consist of:

  • A binder, folder, etc.
  • The history of the organization and a guide pertaining to each particular position
  • Advisor information
  • Historical documents, and letters from former officers
  • Past and anticipated goals for the organization that have and have not been completed and a timeline

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