At Fayetteville Technical Community College, NSLS Chapter President Delores Harper set out to increase member engagement and help them achieve their goals through creating, hosting, and pitching in at community events utilizing collaboration and servant leadership.
“We’ve accomplished collaborating on events, gathering supplies, advertising and creating media for the events, feeding the less fortunate, giving donations, setting up at the fall festival, and collaborating on future events.”
The impact on their community from these events may not have constituted dramatic front-page news; however, in the age of pandemic-imposed loneliness, it was a transformative experience for Fayetteville residents.
“The community was fed lunch and dinner, and received books and clothes to stay warm. In addition, we played games to engage in meaningful fellowship with them.”
Collaboration Creates an Environment for Success
Success doesn’t always mean getting a project accomplished on your own. Sometimes, the smarter move is to partner with those whose strengths and resources complement your own. To get the ball rolling on their community events, the FTCC chapter members concentrated on communication and outreach with potential partners.
“We focused on collaboration in a number of areas, such as identifying what we wanted to gather for donations and what we wanted to feed the community. Then, we focused on outreach and made contact with Manna Dream Center to help set up the venue for our event.”
Filling in the Details
Successful collaboration rests on a foundation of trust and communication. That’s a good reason to begin with a series of meetings to establish connections and lay out the general contours of the partnership.
The next step is to focus on specific details. Those details fill in the gaps and establish a plan to move forward, while encouraging engagement. That’s how Delores’s team proceeded to make their events a success.
“We held a series of meetings to decorate boxes for donations, solicit volunteers to place the donation boxes and work the event, and hash out logistics about how we’d serve the meals and price everything. First, we worked to collect the donated items and transport them to the Manna Dream Center, and then focus on setting up for the community event.”
To launch and host successful events or any other project requiring group participation, it pays to develop leadership skills, specifically those that help the group stay focused and on task.
“The skills we relied on in meeting our goals around these events included collaboration, determination, and consistency.”
Service Must Consider Those to Be Served
It may seem obvious, but it bears repeating: in order to be of service, you must take into consideration the people being served. Delores’s major piece of advice to other chapter leaders who want to make an impact through service-oriented leadership is exactly that.
“For any event that you have for the community, start by checking the needs of the people of that community. Then be consistent, focus on your goal, have fun, and work as a team with other leaders to be impactful.”
Servant Leadership Changes Everyone
Strong, experienced leaders know how the journey can change those involved. The process of ideation, collaboration, creation, and management can teach group members a number of lessons that can help now and in future workplaces.
“I can communicate and lead better as I'm becoming a nurse. Even in group projects, I'm able to collaborate better as a member of the team and help lead the group to finish projects. My skills of consistency have improved as well as my ability to collaborate with others.”
In fact, participating in these community events throughout her membership in the NSLS has helped shape Delores’s view of servant leadership itself.
“Leadership means that you’re willing to help others achieve their goals. It means that you should serve others more than they serve you. Leadership means you’re kind, loving, and compassionate. It means you’ll go out of your way to help others.”
Looking Forward to the Next Big Thing
Successful group projects should always be recognized and acknowledged, but the most productive chapters always ask themselves this one question: what’s next for our group and how will we achieve that goal?
“For our chapter, we have a number of events we’re preparing for, including our induction celebration and E-Board dinner. And for each future group project, we’ll plan, collaborate, and take the necessary steps to reach our goals."
Read about the University of The Bahamas, another chapter that made huge strides in creating and fostering community through service-oriented events.