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Eye on Psi Chi: Winter 2014

What Role Will You Play?
Maria Lavooy, PhD, Psi Chi President, Florida Institute of Technology

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader. —John Quincy Adams

Congratulations. You are officially a Psi Chi member. However, although membership in and of itself speaks to your ability, motivation, and commitment to your education, there is so much more that Psi Chi has to offer that can benefit you, your degree, and your career. So, what now? What will be the next step in your academic journey?

Leaders play a key role within the organization. Some members are viewed as leaders because they appear to have an innate quality that allows them to effortlessly inspire those around them. Others are seen as leaders because of the roles in which they are cast or decide to undertake. Either way, leaders are necessary in order to help integrate the needs of the group members with the goals of the organization.

Although assuming a leadership position within your chapter may seem daunting, even overwhelming, the rewards one reaps, both professionally and personally, cannot be overemphasized. From member recruitment to program planning, from fund-raising to volunteer project involvement, your management and leadership skills will improve during your tenure as a chapter officer.

Once you decide to take on a leadership role within your chapter, indeed, you may find that there are challenges to assuming an officer position. These are realities that most organizations face when they are in a leadership transition phase and they pose a particularly unique challenge for Psi Chi chapters in that they are often under new leadership every year, and with different leadership comes different leadership styles. These transitions can be difficult to manage as there is often a lack of continuity between leaders. This may stymie chapter progress or require the remaining leaders to work harder, which can also lead to a resistance by members to take on leadership roles within a chapter. However, there are things one can do to assist one in a leadership position and to ensure a relatively smooth transition from one leader to the next.

Mitchell Marks, an organizational psychologist, provides leaders with a framework for facilitating members’ adaptation to this chapter transition. This framework includes four elements (Marks, 2013).

  • Empathy: This conveys to chapter members that you understand that things may be difficult for a while but that, if you work to raise their awareness of and facilitate the adaptation process, the transition can be smooth.
  • Engagement: This helps members to embrace new roles. You can create engagement by an understanding and support of the need to end the old and accept new chapter realities. Conduct work expectation meetings, try focusing on short-term objectives, and provide opportunities to involve members. Ask important questions: Where do we want the chapter to go and what needs to happen to help us move forward with the chapter? Many ideas can come from conducting a survey or questionnaire. An important key is the engagement of members!
  • Energy: Get members and potential new members excited about where your chapter is headed. This will help members identify the vision. You can create energy by articulating a clear vision and by setting up opportunities for short-term wins. Set a tone of communicating and connecting. Involve members; that is, employ a team approach. You can’t do it alone.
  • Enforcement: Link roles and responsibilities with regard to where the chapter is headed, not where it came from. Look forward!

There are a few more basic things you should keep in mind while undertaking an exciting new leadership role. At times, you are going to witness progress, but there will be other times when you will get stuck or even feel that the chapter has taken a step backwards. This is not a sign of failure. This is the natural evolution of progress! What is important to remember is this: Where do you and the members want to take your chapter. As leaders, you can help shape your chapter into one that will make a difference in the lives of your members, your college, and your community.

Leadership has many faces. What leadership style will you employ to create a positive and lasting impression for your chapter?

Reference
Marks., M. L. (2013, April 8). Leading organizational transitions for Psi Chi [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com watch?v=7stcm-59WRc


Maria J. Lavooy earned an undergraduate degree in biopsychology and went on to earn an MA and PhD in psychology from Miami University, Ohio. Now in her 27th year of teaching, she serves as the chair of the Applied Psychology Program at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida. She became a member of Psi Chi as an undergraduate in 1978 and has served as a chapter advisor since beginning her teaching career. She was a 3-year member of Psi Chi’s Southeastern Regional steering committee and served Psi Chi in the position of Southeastern Regional Vice-President, planning Psi Chi events and awards for SEPA’s annual meetings. She also attends and contributes to numerous conferences and workshops on behalf of Psi Chi.

Copyright 2014 (Volume 18, Issue 2) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology

 

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Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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