Chapter-Building Strategy: Leadership Structure

Early Leadership and the Leadership Mindset

As your chapter’s leadership team takes shape, consider a few things about your officers and members.

First, establish a clear structure for the tasks and responsibilities of the chapter so you can hold individuals accountable for specific tasks.  Clear organization will project competence to your members and will eliminate redundancy when assigning projects.

Next, encourage the development of your officers’ leadership skills.  Why type of mindset and rhetorical approaches will make your leadership more reputable when providing guidance to the group?

Keep in mind, YAL differs from all the other political organization on your campus.  Your members likely engaged in the political process to effect real change, not climb the ladder of a major political party.  Remain organized, but keep things fun, exciting, and interesting for your officers and members.

Chapter members will absorb the attitude and work ethic exhibited by the leadership.  This is especially true of those looking to move into leadership roles in the future.  Therefore, make sure you set the right tone for your chapter from the outset.

If the chapter president or other leaders consistently arrive late to meetings and appear disorganized, don’t be surprised when the general membership follows suit.

Likewise, an enthusiastic, prompt, focused leadership will spread to others.

Again, the actions and attitudes of the best (and worst) leaders can be infectious, so always exercise discipline.

Leadership Structure 

When you develop your chapter’s leadership, you largely determine the extent to which you will impact your campus.

Commonly, the first few people who join your chapter will accept leadership responsibilities and assume an officer position.  Depending on each member’s personal ambitions and aptitudes, you should encourage them to accept appropriate roles.

Find a good fit between your most eager, passionate members and available chapter posts.  Of the different positions listed below, fill the first three as soon as possible.

President

The YAL chapter president coordinates all activities within the chapter.  As a coordinator, the president makes sure the other officers complete each task assigned to them, not simply by assigning tasks, but by working with each leader to achieve goals.

Chapter presidents possess excellent communication skills and effectively organize and plan activities.

He or she will also act as a liaison between the chapter and outside entities: other student organizations, the school administration, and YAL.  Working with YAL, the president must seek out and obtain resources for the chapter, like YAL’s Activism Kits, activism materials, and training.

The president conducts general meetings for the chapter and ensures they run smoothly (and do not drift too far from the stated purpose).

He or she will also resolve any problems which arise within the group — the president should arbitrate and find pragmatic resolutions which will maintain harmony within the membership.

Secretary

The secretary should exhibit strong organizational skills.  He or she should set up, organize, and maintain chapter documents.  Google Docs serve this function well and cost nothing.  Your chapter will use Google Docs (or a similar platform) for internal and external communications.

Secretaries should document all chapter activities, take notes at meetings, and transfer them everything into a digital format.

It’s important to archive and share these documents with other leaders and members.

The secretary should regularly update your chapter’s Google Calendar (ideally, he or she will create a monthly calendar, which you should distribute to all members.

Because two-way communication is vital, the secretary should write weekly emails to inform and remind members of general news and upcoming calendar items, as well as collect feedback about proposed ideas and activities.

At the end of each fall and spring, the secretary should compile a report which summarizes the main events throughout the previous semester.  He or she should then post this to YAL’s national blog to motivate and inspire other YAL chapters throughout the country.  To gain access or simply email your semester report, email YAL.

Treasurer

The treasurer will oversee all chapter finances.  He or she should understand all financial rules of your school and participate in all financial activities:

  • Serve as a signatory on your bank account
  • Create budgets
  • Make purchases
  • File receipts and create digital copies
  • Generate and maintain a digital end-of-semester financial report

The chapter treasurer may also organize fundraising activities.  Under this role, the fundraiser will explore fundraising opportunities and develop relationships with donors.

Activism Coordinator

The activism coordinator should stay current on all campus activity, searching for opportunities in which your chapter could participate.

In keeping with the ambition of your members to effect change within your spheres of academic, social, and political influence, activism functions as the life-blood of your YAL chapter.  For this reason, the activism coordinator develops and executes essential activism events.

He or she should constantly seek out and generate new ideas to engage your student body with the message of liberty.  Frequently check the YAL national blog and other places on the internet for ideas to promote liberty.

The activism coordinator should also assemble your chapter’s members to participate in the planning and execution of these projects.

At first, the activism coordinator and president may work closely to develop plans for activism events.  As the chapter grows and the activism coordinator gains experience, he or she will inevitably undertake a singular role to coordinate most, if not all, activism events.  As such, the number and effectiveness of such events will increase.

Media Coordinator

The media can substantially increase your chapter’s reach and impact.  To aid that important effort, the media coordinator should seek out all possible media outlets (within the college and throughout the local community).  He or she should develop a full list of local media, including the contact name, email, and phone number for each outlet.

The media coordinator will create and disseminate media advisories before, and press releases after, each event.  He or she should brainstorm ideas to creatively pitch each event and take advantage of media angles so the media will cover your events.

Taking pictures and recording videos will help your chapter earn media coverage.  The media coordinator should ensure that a camera is always on hand and that photographs are always taken at every event so that they can be shared with the media and on the national YAL blog.

Even if you do not have a Media Coordinator, you should assign someone to document all events.

Leadership roles within your chapter will likely overlap, especially early in the formation process.  Don’t worry, this is normal!

As you familiarize yourself with specific tasks, projects become much more manageable — and easier to delegate to other members.  As your fellow officers become comfortable, they will gain confidence.  At that point, you should establish clearly defined tasks for each leadership position.

This will develop a level of discipline for the officers and streamline the structure of responsibility and communication.  You will spend less time delegating tasks and avoid overburdening a single officer, especially the president who may have a tendency to take on too much responsibility.

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