By Sarah Elizabeth “S.E.” Spencer, North Carolina, 2014–2015 Leadership Consultant
Hi y’all! My name is S.E. Spencer. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May of 2014. While at UNC, I served as Recording Secretary and President for Epsilon Gamma Chapter. I also served UNC Panhellenic as Vice President-Standards. So far, the Leadership Consultant experience has been amazing— difficult, but amazing nonetheless! My decision to apply to become an LC was two-fold. First, I was unsure exactly what I wanted to do after graduation, and Kappa was offering this amazing opportunity to travel the country and gain some very marketable skills. Second, I had such an amazing undergraduate experience in large part because of my involvement with Kappa, and I wanted to help young women across North America have an experience that was just as meaningful. So I said, “Sign me up!”
Being an LC requires certain qualities, and here are some qualities I believe are most important for an LC to have:
1. Patience. Most things will not go according to plan! The most important thing I have learned in my time on the road is that it’s okay. Most of the time, chapter women are so excited for a visit and eager to learn and grow; there are, however, some chapters that are set in their ways and need a little more coaxing and convincing. Being patient and remembering that you cannot change the world in a day is the healthiest way to cope during the visits where everything seems to be going wrong. Keep all things in perspective and find a way to do your little bit perfectly, even when the going gets tough. Also, planes get delayed and cancelled all the time, and it isn’t always easy to be patient with the gate agents. Do it anyway because they are more willing to accommodate when you ask with a smile on your face.
2. Problem-solving. On the note of things not going according to plan, problem-solving will be necessary 100 percent of the time. The chapter will look to you as an expert on all things Kappa. You will be the fixer, Olivia Pope-style. Being able to work through problems with the chapter and come up with solutions that make them happy has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my job thus far. Seeing an issue fixed through teamwork and creativity is a tangible way to realize the impact you are having on a chapter.
3. Creativity. New challenges will arise on each visit, and you will have to figure out how to solve them in a way that is best for that chapter. Even when the same issues arise, the solutions are usually different at each chapter. Creative problem-solving with members has led to some amazing solutions that fit each individual chapter. By collaborating with the leaders, I am able to give the chapter ownership of a solution rather than imposing my ideas and opinions upon them.
4. Organization. Sometimes it’s hard to remember this is a job because it doesn’t always feel like work. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are a lot of moving parts and being an LC requires a significant amount of planning and organization. In a given week, you will be in contact with four or five chapters about upcoming visits and one or two you have just left. That’s a lot of names and meetings to keep track of! The more organized and on top of reports and letters you can be, the more you will be able to experience during your visits because you won’t be stuck in your room catching up on paperwork.
5. Fearlessness. Each day you will be asked to do something you have never done before, and you are going to have to act like it doesn’t faze you. You very well might have to do something that scares the living daylights out of you, but you will do it, and chances are it will not be as bad as you originally expected. Going into each day with the mindset that I will be prepared to do whatever is necessary to help each chapter has been what gets me through some of those difficult situations.
6. Confidence. Presenting can be nerve-wracking, but it is especially tough when it is to a room of 170 or more women. Being confident in your experience and knowledge is one of the most important ways to gain the respect of the chapter women. My best experiences so far have been those where I have felt confident in my Kappabilities and have been able to share my knowledge with someone else. It can be hard to insert yourself into a chapter for only a short period of time and feel as if you’ve made a difference. Remember, you are there to do your job, and at the end of the day, sometimes that’s all you can do. You also have to be confident enough to sprint through an airport in business casual clothes while toting your rolling bag and carry-on because you really need to make that plane!
7. Vulnerability. It’s okay to ask for help. In fact, it is encouraged! That was one of the first lessons I learned on the road. Leaving Columbus, I felt well trained, but I soon found out that there were far more questions than I could answer alone. Knowing when it was time to ask for help and being honest with the chapter women was tough for me. I have always been very independent, but I soon began to realize that asking my teammates and using all my other resources, human and written, was the best way to guide the women I met.
8. Dedication. You are always on the job, even when you are at meals or just hanging out. You work hours that will never be asked of you in any other setting. Some days it feels like your head has just hit the pillow when your alarm goes off to start the next day. This position requires more energy and enthusiasm than anything I have ever done in my life, and I love it. However, it is no small task. In order to make the most of this experience, you will need to be physically and mentally prepared to work hard at all hours of the day and always have a smile on your face. Being an LC is not a job that can be done halfway.
9. Selflessness. This may be one of the most challenging experiences you will ever have. You will have to give more of yourself than you ever have before, always with a smile on your face. And the cool part is you will almost always be willing to do it. You will want to do everything you possibly can to help empower each chapter you work with to grow into the best they can be. You will have nights with little to no sleep and days when you just want to curl up in your bed and watch Netflix, but the chapter will need you. On the other hand, please take care of yourself! And if you are a workaholic like me, make sure your teammates know so they can force you to take care of yourself. (Thanks, ladies!)
10. Humility. While you are a professional consultant, it does not mean you should act like you are better than the chapter women because you have a fancy badge and nametag. You bring new ideas and help promote growth within each chapter because you have been armed with the answers, or at least the ability to find the answers, but it is important to remember that in the end, these women are your sisters, and you want to see them happy, healthy and successful. Being an LC does require the capacity to have fun and be silly. Sometimes the best presentations or activities with a chapter are those that make the women and you laugh. Especially during Recruitment, positivity and a smile are sometimes the most important and necessary components that LCs bring to the table.
Now I know you might be thinking, “S.E., I don’t have all of these tools! I could never be an LC.” And to that I say …
No person has a complete toolbox! I work on each of these regularly and sometimes fail miserably. It’s important to remember that some tools can do jobs they are not necessarily designed to do. For example, when you don’t have a hammer and need to put a nail in the wall, a good pair of wedges will do the trick. Similarly, when you need to be creative and the juices are just not flowing, using your resources within the Fraternity can be just as beneficial. Keep this in mind as you consider applying to be an LC! You may not have all the tools right now, but I can guarantee that you will develop them during this amazing, hectic, wonderful year.
If you are applying to be an LC, I wish you the best of luck! I would not trade this experience for anything. GO KAPPA! GO LC!
Editor’s Note: The Leadership Consultant application is now available. Deadline to apply is December 1. Visit the Our Team page to learn more about the position and apply today!