Now that I have been the President of my sorority for nearly four months, I can quite honestly say that my previous position of Recruitment Vice President (RVP) was a lot more difficult to handle. While analyzing why this was the case, I have come to realize that the difficulty and workload of both positions has stemmed directly from the different teams that I have worked with. The issues that my Recruitment Team faced last year were so much more prevalent and consuming than the issues that I have had to deal with (so far) with my executive team. Furthermore, I learned some very significant lessons as RVP that have taught me how to handle issues in a more appropriate, efficient manner.
One of the greatest problems that I ran across as RVP was that the officer who had held my position previously was now on my team in a subordinate role. She felt that she had expert power because she had been in my position before, and she frequently tried to challenge the legitimate power that I had now that I was in that role. Additionally, there were other, older girls on my team who felt that simply because they were older, they were above my authority.
This discord among my team members led to problems with our decision making. Because none of us really felt comfortable with one another, our team became a victim of groupthink. No one really offered ideas, and when they did, for the most part we all just agreed in order to placate one another. This really caused our team to be less productive and successful than it could have been.
Because we ran across quite a few issues as a team last year, I really had to learn how to manage conflict effectively. The five most pertinent types of conflict resolution can be seen on the table below. Personally, I grew a lot through this position. While I started out avoiding most conflict, I quickly found that my team wouldn’t be successful unless we addressed our problems. At times I was confrontational, and while this may not always be appropriate, it helped the older girls realize that they couldn’t get away with whatever they wanted. Ultimately we reached a level of collaboration, where my team meetings were finally conducive to everyone involved. We held successful philanthropy, public relations, and recruitment events when we worked together as a team.
My time as RVP has molded me into a much more assertive leader. I am not easily intimidated by others but I am very open to listening to diverse opinions and ideas. I have also learned that positional power means very little without personal power to back it up. After observing how our past President only really held positional power and the chapter responded minimally to this, I have tried to make myself more than just a position by being open and relatable. This is a difficult balance to maintain, but after surviving a year as RVP I am sure that it is possible.