Congratulations! You’ve been elected as your chapter’s new top executive—and you’re trying to figure out how to be a good fraternity president.
Becoming a fraternity president is a tough job and an even tougher transition. Being the leader requires commitment on an order of magnitude greater than that of lower executive positions. As president, your responsibilities encompass every aspect of the chapter’s operations, while you’re also tasked with representing the chapter itself as its face.
In this article, we’ll cover 5 Key Lessons for a New Fraternity President:
- How to Be a Good Fraternity President, Part 1: Setting Rules for Yourself
- How to Be a Good Fraternity President, Part 2: Delegating
- How to Be a Good Fraternity President: Part 3: Scheduling Everything
- How to be a Good Fraternity President, Part 4: Leading by Example
- How to Be a Good Fraternity President, Part 5: Earning Respect
How to Be a Good Fraternity President, Part 1: Setting Rules for Yourself
Brothers won’t follow rules their chapter president doesn’t follow himself. A good president holds himself to a higher standard.
A fraternity president must present himself as a professional. Iron your clothes, and maintain hygiene. Be neat, clean, and purposeful in your appearance. Carry yourself like a leader, and follow the code of conduct expected of all brothers.
The president serves as director and manager of each chairman and committee and must ensure that the job is done. This means holding those you empower accountable for their performance.
Whether using your chapter’s constitution or forming your own contract agreements with your staff, set up expectations immediately, and hold your brothers accountable if they fail.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others.. Spend time with significant others. Go to a movie with your brothers. Plan some down-time, and unwind.
It’s tempting to want to do everything yourself to execute your vision. But you will burn yourself out if you try to do everything.
Instead, delegate responsibility to those you believe will do the best job.
Collaboration can inspire brilliance. Most successful efforts come from the combined efforts of many people. Let people help you.
Begin with academics. Scan your syllabi, and enter homework assignments, quizzes, tests, and exams into your calendar. Keep track of when you will be in class and when you’ve scheduled study time outside of class.
Create a habit of scheduling chapter tasks, meetings, and events in the same calendar system, and you’ll be scheduling like a pro.
How to Be a Good Fraternity President, Part 2: Delegating
You may be taking on too much. The difference between a good fraternity president and a bad one may be as simple as learning to delegate.
Know What a President Does (and Does Not) Do
Start by shadowing your predecessor. Study officer guidelines for the president and other chairs. Ask questions.
Mastering your role lets you know when to step in and manage, and delegate. Step in when you must, but stick to the duties of president when possible.
Know When You Need Help and Ask for It
Your national organization may have chapter advisors or others to mentor you. Or your Greek Life office may offer leadership seminars. Create an “asking for help” hierarchy. Direct new officers to their predecessors first.
Know When Not to Delegate
While you should make sure all chairs are following their roles, you are the face of the chapter.
You’ll lead ceremonies and rituals, preside at chapter meetings, and you’re going to be the first person other fraternities or sororities speak to when you’re fostering new relationships in the Greek community.
You’ll also be the glue between the chapter and the national organization, your university officials, and organizations that have business or philanthropic relationships with you.
How to Be a Good Fraternity President: Part 3: Scheduling Everything
Scheduling is hard, as discussed above, but here are some tips to manage your time effectively.
Create a Block Schedule—and Don’t Skip!
Choose a schedule that begins in the morning and ends in early afternoon with a day off at the end of the week to catch up on your coursework.
This way your schedule starts late enough in the morning for you to sleep in, and gives you the rest of the afternoon into the night to study, work on homework, and do the work necessary for your chapter’s social calendar. Consistency is key to success, so establish habits of punctuality and preparedness..
Choose Classes Wisely
Know yourself and what you can handle when choosing your classes. The key is to anticipate your approaching workload and avoid becoming overwhelmed by your responsibilities.
Make a Detailed Schedule, and Follow It
As mentioned above, a detailed schedule of class and chapter responsibilities can be a fraternity president’s best friend. The use of a detailed schedule can be extremely helpful in social engagement entries and deadlines for your chapter’s program calendar.
When It’s Study Time, Shut Everything Else Out
When studying, leave your phone somewhere it won’t distract you.
Make clear that between 7pm and 9pm you will be in the library studying; people will recognize your schedule and learn to work around it.
The second piece of advice is to give yourself a small break in between. Although this takes self-discipline, it’ll give you an outlet for your boredom; just be sure to get back to work.
How to be a Good Fraternity President, Part 4: Leading by Example
Skills you need to manage a successful fraternity chapter and those you use academically often overlap in beneficial ways. Here are a few ways you can take advantage and prove yourself a worthy leader.
Make Academics a Priority
Academics and chapter management share a common key to success: reading beyond the page. Whether it’s chapter bylaws or your Bio II book, simply memorizing information won’t get you anywhere.
Truly understanding a subject means developing instincts and expanding your ideas through critical thinking.
Prioritize academics and chapter success. Apply critical thinking to challenges.
Here are some other tips to build academics into a chapter priority:
- Teach brothers that academics are a vital part of their role as chapter members.
- Make study hours sacred, and set strict study times for yourself.
- Treat every chapter success or failure as a teaching moment.
Prioritize Well-Being and Self-Care
The constant onslaught of responsibilities as top executive can be overwhelming, but never taking time for self-care leads to mistakes in judgement and poor health outcomes.
Exercise, and eat right. Talk to a nutritionist on campus about how to get all the essential vitamins. Drink water. Hit the gym, or jog in the morning. These habits can impact how you feel, think, and behave.
Take breaks and sleep well. Short breaks can refresh you when you’re going from one difficult task to the next. Also, getting a good night’s rest makes all the difference.
Prioritize Brotherhood by Showing up and Lending a Hand
Be the first to show up to an event and help set up, and the last to leave when every task is done.
Everything we’ve talked about thus far is about showing up. And not just being there physically—but engaging and doing the things you ask of your brothers.
How to Be a Good Fraternity President, Part 5: Earning Respect
Winning the election and becoming chapter president means brothers believe in your vision. Now it’s time to back up your vision with action to earn their respect.
You do this by the “show, don’t tell” method of leadership.
Follow Through on Campaign Promises
When campaign promises fall flat, it causes brothers to question what you stand for. It creates doubt.
Here are a few steps to avoid this major presidential pitfall:
- Make realistic promises in the first place—have a detailed timeline that doesn’t drag on for semesters.
- Look at goals and accomplishments past presidents have made. What can you and your brothers accomplish during your time in office?
- Adjust expectations by fine-tuning goals with other chairmen and committees.
Establish and Maintain Standards
When you have friendships this close, it’s no easy feat to draw a line in the sand.
Yet it’s essential to let brothers know what’s expected of them—that you’ll listen to them, but they aren’t going to get away with breaking the rules. No special treatment.
Cut slack when it’s warranted. Every brother faces personal challenges.
But keep the same rules for everyone. Every brother must pay dues on time, must follow house rules, must attend events, and must pull his weight.
Benefits and consequences are the same for everyone.
Make Brothers Feel Heard and Seen
As mentioned above, you should listen earnestly to what brothers have to say, even if you don’t particularly agree with them.
However, it’s also about how you listen. It means you don’t shout, act like a jerk, or talk over them. It means you don’t tune them out with your headphones on. It means you keep your appointments with them.
It means when you can help them, you do.
It also means that when you can’t help them, you help them understand why.
OmegaFi offers software solutions for Greek chapters for recruitment, budgeting, communication, and more. Learn more about our services or call direct at 800.276.6342.
What fraternity president lessons have you learned? Let us know in the comments below!