2015 Winner's Essay
My experience as the Central Connecticut State University Chapter president has taught me much about group leadership and communication. In short, I learned how to build a strong team and to bring out the best in our members.
Lesson 1: Encourage our members to set high goals, venture out of their comfort zone, and develop their skills. For instance, our treasurer, Jackie, was interested in designing a poster for one of our upcoming events. She did not have any prior experience, but I strongly encouraged her to take charge on the poster. Since then, she has designed multiple posters not only for our chapter but for other clubs and organizations. Due to her digital patterns and color schemes, we would swear that a graphic designer developed them. She has received numerous compliments and accolades. Even more, she has developed two original websites for organizations on campus and is the layout coordinator of our newsletter.
Lesson 2: Develop a safe space for members to voice their opinions and express their ideas. During weekly meetings, I asked each officer and member for ideas and suggestions to improve the chapter. Building an atmosphere of openness had a palpable influence on the way our chapter operated. I often told members that they all possessed the ability to develop “life-changing ideas.” When ideas were shared, we evaluated their potential applications to become successful.
Lesson 3: Motivate others to take the lead. When people were hesitant to take the lead, I pushed them to try. For example, our Public Relations officer, Andrea, had an idea for a workshop. She wanted to have professors share their knowledge with students about the interview process for securing internships and admission to graduate programs. Andrea struggled with developing the overall activity in terms of contacting professors and establishing a Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentation for professors to work off of during the event. She would ask me for help, and I would help her with general information about the event such as which professors, what room to have the event in, and what time, but I never took the lead role because I knew she could do it and that she would learn from the experience. Andrea hosted the event, contacted the professors, promoted the event via e-mail, took notes so that she could later reflect, and wrote an article for our newsletter. She pushed through and produced a successful event even though she was initially nervous and unsure of her abilities. As a result, I learned how to increase someone's confidence in their leadership abilities through motivation.
Lesson 4: Communicate not only to share information but also to motivate and encourage. To this end, I created two Facebook® group chats: one for the officers and another for the entire chapter. Almost every day, we update each other on events we are planning, activities we want to participate in, and other ways to improve our chapter. Within my own posts, I make sure to use words of encouragement and motivation. For instance, I recently posted: “This is it, the last six weeks of class. For some of us, this is our final stretch before graduation. No matter what your school standing is, put in work. Complete your goals. If doubt enters your mind, tell it to take a hike. Wake up and be a champion today. If you doubt that, literally say, ‘I am a champion’ out loud. You'd be surprised what that does for your mindset. There's a champion in every single one of you. I could not be more proud of our success and our achievement.” When I send motivational and encouraging posts, morale and productivity increases. Thus, words have a large role in a leadership position; using positive words encourages others to do the same while also motivating them to feel more comfortable.
Lesson 5: Develop opportunities where many members can participate despite their demanding schedules. One of our most successful activities has been our monthly student-written newsletter, Central Psychology News. Thus far, we have six completed newsletters containing almost 40 articles. Newsletters include professor spotlights, graduate school information, upcoming events for our chapter and other organizations in the Psychological Science Department, and information about various topics in psychology. For instance, we have had articles explaining color psychology, quantitative psychology, and unfamiliar psychology occupations. For our March edition, four members participated in editing the newsletter; six separate members wrote original articles. Typically, our newsletters involved 8 to 12 members every month.
As chapter president, I have compiled these lessons, which have helped me understand the role of leadership. A leader is someone who brings about the best in others while understanding that everyone has the ability to grow. Through motivation and dedication, a passionate team can make a difference. Following is a closing statement I made in our December newsletter:
“I knew that occupying the position as president for an honor society would be a challenge. However, although obstacles were present, I have been fortunate enough to work with a team of students who are motivated, dedicated, and passionate about the improvement of the psychological science program, the assistance of other students in order for them to succeed, and the development of their own professional skills. They are masters in the art of effective communication and creativity with the capability to apply these skills in a real-world setting. In addition to the hard work from these scholars, the psychological science professors have been a tremendous help in aiding our chapter. Their encouragement, support, and kind words have fueled Psi Chi continually in our mission of improvement. When students and faculty collaborate, positive change is bound to occur. I look forward to working with the brilliant professors of the psychological science department, zealous officers and members of Psi Chi, and other students interested in working with us after the break. Although, I am very proud, impressed, and satisfied with our success thus far, my team and I are already working on big things for next semester.”
What does being a leader mean for you?
Central Connecticut State University
"A leader is someone who brings about the best in others while understanding that everyone has the ability to grow. Through motivation and dedication, a passionate team can make a difference."
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