New Group Leaders
This page provides basics information on how to successfully step into your new role as group leader and to get your group moving. Other sections in the Student Hub provide more in-depth information that will help you with all aspects of running a group including how to strengthen your group.
Step 1: Investigate and Evaluate
Hopefully as a new leader you were able to meet with the previous leader to find out as much as possible about the group and how it works. If you haven't done that yet and can still contact that person - make a list of questions and schedule some time to meet in person or over the phone. If the old leader is not around, you'll have to investigate - talk to other group leaders and members, the faculty advisor (student groups) or other organizations or people who worked with your group. If the type of information you are looking for isn't documented, start a notebook now that you can pass on to the next leader! You can also utilize the leader-to-leader binder available in the Student Hub or contact IAAB’s staff for other resources.
The amount of investigation and evaluation you need to do will depend on a variety of factors. If you were very involved with your group last year and are familiar with the activities, vision and planning, you can start more quickly than if you were involved but are not quite sure how things worked or are missing key information about the group and the overall organization. Talk to IAAB staff and groups at neighboring schools or in your network for more advice. Start where you are and go from there!
In your research be sure to find out something about the following:
Key Contacts and Leaders
- Find out: Who are the people inside the group and in your community or at your school whom you need to know and talk with? Perhaps you already know the other group leaders you'll be working with and are very familiar with their interests, roles, responsibilities, and strengths. Maybe you don't know them quite so well. Either way, now is a good time to meet with leaders individually and as a group to get to know them and their work better.
- Identify leaders and their potential - you need to start delegating tasks to capable members, and it is never too soon to start grooming your replacement!
- If you are in a student group, meet with your faculty advisor to discuss what they do and how you will work together.
- Also find out who the key people are in your community or at your school that you need to know and interact with. This could include everyone from the contact who manages the place or room where you meet, key leaders of other organizations, or the person at a local business who makes donations to support the work of your group.
Last Year's Activities
- Find out: What did the group accomplish last year? What did it set out to do? Are there particular issues or themes the group worked on? Are there other organizations the group worked with? What went well? What could be improved?
- Find out: How is the group structured? Are there subcommittees or working groups? What do they do? How often does the group meet; how are the meetings run; what kind of pre-meeting preparation is required? What is working? What needs to change?
Procedures and Practices
- Find out: If you're in a student group, are there any school procedures you need to be aware of (e.g. meeting times and places, opportunities for funding or events, reporting requirements, regulations about activities)?
- How does your group maintain its membership list? Does the group collect dues?
- What other systems are in place for running your group? What needs to be changed or improved?
Group Strengths and Weaknesses
- As you investigate, evaluate. Find out what is working that you need to continue. Identify the weaknesses in your group structure, operations and leadership.
Step 2: Gather your Resources
- There are numerous resources available to group leaders. Hopefully you received some from the previous leader. Make sure you have the most up to date information. Don't overwhelm yourself with too much information. Collect the basics, and identify other needs you have and resources that can help you meet them.
Student Groups: Is Your Group Registered?
- Student groups have to officially be registered with the student affairs office. Registered groups receive basic funding and have the opportunity to ask for more funding for specific events from college council and other available funding sources on-campus.
- Find out what resources are available in your school or community to help your group. Some groups are able to tap into leadership training, publicity mechanisms, sources of funding etc.
Step 3: Plan and Act
Who Can Help?
- As previously mentioned, there are a number of people who can help you build a successful group. Start with leaders and members of your group. Who can you delegate tasks to and involve in leadership roles? Which resource people are available in your school or community?
- Use the Student Hub
- Check out other online events calendars to find out about upcoming events in your region or area. Contact groups at neighboring schools – are there events that you can support by attending that will be helpful for your group? Other events can be inspiring and informative – they may also lead your members to act on ideas for events.
Recruitment, New Member Orientation and Group Meetings
- As your group comes together it should work to recruit new members, orient them to your activities, and run meetings on a regular basis. Use the resources in the Student Hub to help you with each of these things. If members of you community group are just getting back together after a summer off, or if school is just starting in the fall or after winter break, consider planning some events which you can recruit members to. As you attract a new group of recruits, make sure they learn about the organization and start to join in with the different tasks that need to be done!