From an outside perspective it may seem a sorority president is de facto ruler of her chapter. Someone unfamiliar with undergraduate Greek life may see her as a sort of CEO, the most important member of a sorority and the sister through whom everything the chapter does is run.
While a sorority president may hold the top executive position in her chapter, the reality is more so that she plays a role of equal importance to all other officers and sisters. She must ensure the overall management of her chapter and uphold and embody the sorority’s values, but her job is no more important than, say, the sorority treasurer, the recruitment chair, alumnae engagement or even a new sister who does not yet hold an official position. The sorority hierarchy exists in co-equal parts.
With even one of the parts malfunctioning, a sorority will fail. For instance, if the sorority treasurer doesn’t manage the chapter budget correctly, the chapter will fall into financial hardship. If a recruitment chair doesn’t do her job to the best of her ability, membership will suffer. If a sorority’s president cannot fulfill her duties, the chapter’s foundation is in peril of crumbling.
Yet if a Sorority President succeeds, her chapter succeeds along with her. A sorority president must inspire equal parts trust and initiative in her sisters, and she can do this only when she is Leading by Example.
A sorority president is usually someone with a vision for her sorority chapter’s future, someone drawn to leadership roles. She is comfortable guiding others and encouraging their strengths as individuals, all while being in the spotlight herself. However, a sorority president is not just a life coach or a parade model going around waving to the masses. A sorority president must take on many managerial roles behind the scenes and ensure the chapter runs smoothing in its day-to-day operations.
For a newly-elected sorority president, this can be daunting. Doing some prep-work and research before you run for president can go a long way. Someone running for president should understand each of her roles and should also have ideas to reach beyond the basics to create a vision that coincides with the chapter’s values. She should also show sisters she’s willing to hear their ideas and contribute to each of their roles as well. She should go by the book when rules are broken and discipline is necessary, but should also be willing to empathize and foster compromise.
A sorority president must find her voice. She can do this through forming her on initiative and ideas and then clearly communicating how those ideas fit in with shared goals and values. A president’s voice is most effective not when she speaks alone, but when she is in conversation with the chapter and sorority, their past, present and future. One way to help achieve this balance is to shadow the outgoing sorority president for at least several months during the officer transition period or even before the election. The new sorority president should take notes, and ask questions about what worked and what didn’t for her predecessor. Like everything else in sorority life, the presidency is built by a new generation building on the foundation of the older generation.
Aside from the obvious roles of leading and representing her chapter, a sorority president has many official responsibilities as outlined in the chapter bylaws that she should familiarize herself with. Although every sorority and chapter is different, there are some commonalities between the sorority president’s duties, such as:
The list is certainly more extensive and detailed as a sorority president reads further into her chapter’s bylaws, but these are some of the president’s basic duties.
A sorority president may also be called upon to help manage her chapter house, with tasks such as enforcing house rules, coordinating with the risk management chair and university officials to ensure the safety of her sisters and making sure official house matters are taken care of (payments, insurance, maintenance, etc.). If a chapter has a “house mother,” the president should coordinate with her regularly.
Finally, she should know when to delegate tasks to others rather than becoming overburdened, which will lead to her becoming burned out and an ineffective leader.
A sorority president has many resources that, if used correctly, will greatly increase her chance of success as a leader.
One such resource is that of sorority leadership conferences. While a sister may have been chosen as president for her natural ability to lead, a truly effective sorority president is always seeking to improve herself and those around her. Conferences are a great way to achieve this goal.
A university’s Greek Life office and a chapter’s national sorority may offer these types of conferences to collegiate Greek women. In addition, there are various national-level leadership conferences where sorority presidents can attend workshops and lectures, share ideas, network with other Greek leaders and more.
Yet the greatest resource a sorority president has at her disposal is herself. When managing a sorority, a president needs to manage her own wellbeing. This means she should not run for president in the first place when carrying a heavy or especially difficult class load. It also means she should acknowledge mental health struggles and if possible talk to a mental health professional on campus. She should set boundaries with sisters and confidently provide clear and specific instructions to others. While a sorority president is never truly out of the reach of a sister in need, she should set aside time to study, relax and spend some time taking care of herself. Finally, she should exercise when she can, eat healthy and get as much sleep as possible.
A sorority president’s role as a leader is ever-evolving, yet steeped in her chapter’s traditions and values. A sorority president at her core is a chapter manager. At OmegaFi we do our part in helping presidents manage their chapter finances with our budgeting software and financial experts. If you’re a sorority president who’d like to know more about how we can help with your finances, check us out.