By Morgan Miles, Staff Writer
I’m on the board of two councils at Xavier. For both, I don’t have to grapple with an extreme amount of work, but there’s still a dedication to being present whenever work is due. There are service hour requirements, meetings, event planning, coordinating with other members and many other components that contribute to maintenance of a council. Though my experience is still slim regarding the time I’ve spent in positions of leadership, I still put a lot of effort into active participation, because that is my duty.
Over my two years at Xavier, I’ve noticed a common issue among leaders of councils, clubs or any general boards: leadership overload, which inevitably turns into incompetent leadership.
Leadership overload is referring to the students who are obsessed with having a higher-up position and join as many organizations as possible purely for the role — not necessarily for the experience. These obsessed students stretch themselves thin and tend to lack dedication or seem to lack a desire to make a change through their role. Arguably, these are the two most important traits of a leader, especially an effective leader.
For example, I’ve seen students participate on five different boards with plans to join more, who also have a high workload and busy social life. In this case, why not offer the position to someone who has never had any but didn’t get the chance because they lost an election or hadn’t been well-known enough to secure a spot on a board?
Another student could’ve taken on the role and compared to more responsibility as a leader versus the student who will have a strong resume, yet weak skills and lesser experiences because they allowed themselves to become so stressed and obsessed with the idea of their role.
A title looks good on paper, but the work one puts into being as involved as possible in a club or group is far more valuable in the long run. I admire the hustle of a student who is everywhere and doing everything they possibly can. However, I prefer a student who limits their scope to have a bigger impact in the role they’ve been given.
Last year, I emailed multiple clubs to help with a Newswire article I was writing. The article required student opinions, and I thought the opinions, of a club officers would be great to include because their club’s purpose seemed to be directly tied to the purpose of my article. Five days in advance, I emailed six different officers, and I got nothing. By nothing, I mean they literally never replied. The president deferred me to an assistant who never got back in touch with me. And I’m a fast replier.
If a student is so preoccupied by other tasks that they cannot have their assistant answer two simple questions related to the reason their club exists, I think the student then needs to step back and question if they’re completing their responsibilities as a leader.
I’ve also felt a sense of disappointment in leadership regarding activity. A large, well-known club on campus remained dormant throughout 2020. COVID-19 understandably knocked out a lot of potential for club meetings and events and threw many students off guard. Yet, I saw other, slightly-less popular clubs continue to adapt through Zoom or socially-distanced meetings.
This large club did not speak up when the White supremacy attacks occurred, yet its purpose surrounded the premise of valuing minority races. If they did, I’m oblivious to the fact, because I never saw the club do anything for an entire year. My roommate joined this specific club in hopes to get involved and felt thoroughly disappointed when every week, again and again, not even a Zoom debriefing was held.
This makes me wonder: Where were the officers and what makes them unable to do work for the club they run when many other clubs remained functional in some form or another? I believe the answer lies in my initial complaints of incompetent leadership. This is not to say the student isn’t fit for the job. Nonetheless, if they can’t keep up with the work — even as a leader of an important, popular organization — then the role needs to be passed on.