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Support for Student Organization Leadership

Leading a student organization can sometimes feel like a juggling act. To assist with this, we put together some helpful resources to help navigate the ins and outs of being a leader and assist with the development of your leadership skill sets. 

Transition Guide for New Leadership 

Every student organization goes through a transition period once new leadership comes in. Here's a few tips to streamline this process.  


  • Holding Elections
    • Elections are typically held once per academic year and can be held in-person, on a private paper ballot, or through CampusLink. 
    • Your organization’s constitution or bylaws will outline the procedures for elections.  
      • Regardless of method for elections, please record the ballots cast and the outcomes.  
      • Vacant officer positions can be filled according to your organization’s constitution or bylaws.  
  • Updating New Officer Information
    • After holding elections, new officer information must be updated on CampusLink within 30 days. 
    • If your organization has an on-campus account, you will also need to request and complete an accounting signature card with the new executive team’s signatures.  
  • Passing Information to New Officers
    • Officer transition is important to make sure that new officers have a firm foundation to continue to build the organization. 
    • A successful officer transition includes passing all documents, resources, and materials to new officers.  
    • It is ideal to do this in a formal meeting, such as an officer’s retreat, which focuses on providing information and answering questions about officer roles. 
      • Important documents can be housed in the documents section of the organization’s page on CampusLink. This guarantees that all current and future officers of the organization will have access to the documents. 
      • This is a time for outgoing officers to reflect on their roles and offer advice (avoid telling incoming officers what to do). Offer the new officers a basic plan and ideas, but let them plan the next year on their own. 
  • How to Lead a Meeting

    Example of the first transition meeting agenda (you can copy and paste this into your document, but make sure to note the name of the meeting, date, time, and location for every agenda):

    1. Call to order
    2. Attendance or roll call
    3. Outgoing officer reflections – Each officer briefly discuss the topics below.
      1. In your time as an officer:
        1. What has worked well?
        2. What needed improvement?
        3. What programs or events should we try to maintain?
        4. What can we eliminate or change? How?
    4. Outgoing officers meet individually with the incoming officer in your role to share role specific responsibilities and how you accomplished these responsibilities.
      1. Move documents or notes to the organization’s CampusLink Documents page
      2. Share a calendar of things that you did each month specific to your role in the organization.
        1. When during the year are your responsibilities particularly heavy or light?
        2. Were there costs associated with your role? Did you have to buy items with organization funds? When and how much where those items?
        3. Are there any leftover materials that the organization can keep? Where are they stored (event supplies t-shirts, buttons, labels, nametags etc.)
    5. Snack or meal break – It is important to get up and moving or have a break during a lengthy meeting. If you are breaking for a snack or meal it is ideal to have that set up in a different location away from the work you’re doing. Leave for the meal and then return to work afterward.
    6. Basic plans and realistic goals for the upcoming semester
      1. How will we:
        1. Maintain current successful meetings, events, or programs
        2. Eliminate or develop unsuccessful meetings, events, or programs
        3. Create new opportunities for our members
        4. Recruit new members
        5. Review, edit, or rewrite any organization documents – constitution, bylaws, etc., is this needed right now?
      2. Who will be responsible for implementing the plans or goals we have discussed above? (put at least 2 people in charge of any initiative unless it is basic note-keeping)
      3. When and where will we meet again to review our progress toward our plans/goals?
    7. Set next meeting – this may or may require the outgoing officers attendance
    8. Informal discussion
    9. Adjournment


Managing Conflict

Managing conflict can be tricky if you don’t have the appropriate tools to do so. Here are some steps that your student organization can take when managing conflict within the group.


  • Set clear, established expectations and procedures

    This is a first great step in avoiding conflict. Laying out expectations and procedures will help everyone be on the same page within the student organization. This can be a good baseline to come back to if conflict does arise.  

  • Allow for open communication

    Communication is key to dealing with conflict effectively. We cannot expect others to know if we are upset with a situation if we don’t communicate how we are feeling. Establishing an environment conducive to safe, respectful communication is key to managing conflict when it arises.  

    • Communicate when calm - If you are someone that gets really heated when conflict arises, take a step back to calm down before trying to work out the issue at hand.  
  • Intervene Early

    Don't let feelings of conflict build up over time. It is better to address any issues that arise early on, ensuring that the conflict does not become bigger than it needs to be.  

  • Focus on the problem, not the person.

    During times of conflict, it is easy to make every issue personal. Focusing on the problem at hand instead of making it personal will not only spare hard feelings, but also ensure that you are working towards a common goal of resolution.  

    • Use “I” statements - This is a great way to keep conflict from becoming personal. With “I” statements, you are focusing on the way something made you feel in a way that won’t introduce defensiveness into the conversation.  
    • Avoid gossip - Chatting with a trusted friend about a conflict within your organization is a good way to manage your feelings. Try to avoid spreading “gossip” surrounding the situation so all parties in the disagreement feel respected. Remember: you are a team!
  • Use a mediator
    Pick a trusted member of your team, such as your advisor or a person on your executive team, to help you and the person in conflict work out your differences in a neutral manner. 


How to Delegate Responsibilities


  • What does it mean to delegate?

    Delegation involves the transfer of responsibility of tasks from one individual to another. Delegation is important because it disperses responsibility to more members of the organization, increasing the productivity of the organization and providing empowerment and buy-in for members. Additionally, the delegation of some tasks allows for others to focus more time and energy on specific projects needing attention.  

    Don’t forget, student organizations are about collaboration and teamwork. No one group or individual should take on too much responsibility within the organization and delegation can help with that. 

  • Know what to delegate

    Not all projects or tasks should be delegated. Very important or sensitive items should be reserved for individuals with more responsibility within the organization.

  • Play to your teammate’s strengths

    Members within your organization are going to have talents or strengths that stand out. Utilize those strengths to benefit your organization by giving tasks to individuals that you know will do the job thoroughly and with enthusiasm.  

  • Challenge your teammates

    Some projects can be delegated to individuals as a way of developing them. For example, if there is a student with a goal of obtaining leadership skills, delegating a task that allows them to lead others or develop a program may be the challenge they need to grow in their role. 

  • Define the expectations

    Defining the expectations for the work you are delegating ensures that all parties are on the same page about the goal that is being worked towards. These expectations also foster open communication and collaboration between team members 

  • Provide guidance

    After delegating tasks, its still important to check in with your other team members, offering help and tools where needed to ensure a successfully completed project. Leaders of the organization have a responsibility to support other members so that they can step up as others transition out.  

  • Establish a clear communication channel

    Let others know how to get in communication with you about a project that they’ve been given. This will allow them to ask for guidance confidently and give you progress updates on the tasks they’ve been assigned. 

  • It's important to have patience

    Delegating tasks can be difficult for some, as it means relinquishing control over certain projects. Having patience with your team members, allowing for mistakes (and growth), and avoiding micromanagement can create a more positive, collaborative environment for all.  

  • Provide feedback and credit

    Giving your team members feedback about the progress of their project can help keep them on track and problem solve through hurdles that arise. Providing credit to your team members for the work completed is just as important as the support you provide. Acknowledging the hard work of others goes a long way to boost the morale of your team.


Effective Communication

Effective communication ensures that the message gets across to all parties and is understood with clarity and purpose. Here are some ways you can practice effective communication with your fellow org members.


  • Active listening

    When you actively listen, you are making intentional space in your mind to understand what is being said and the intent behind it. Active listening also means refraining from formulating your response to the conversation while the other person is speaking.  

  • Prepare talking points

    Especially when communicating within a larger group, it’s never a bad idea to prepare your thoughts ahead of time. Getting your thoughts down will help you organize what you want to say, feel confident in the message you want to convey, and ensure that the language you are using is concise so that all members understand. 

  • Be mindful of non-verbal communication

    The body language we display often tells people more about what the speaker is trying to convey than the words themselves. Reading the non-verbal cues of others and being aware of your own body language will help you read the room and communicate more effectively with your peers. Conflicting verbal and nonverbal cues have the capacity to undermine your words or confuse your listeners.  

  • Set boundaries and expectations

    Setting boundaries is best practice for many areas of life, including in communication. Setting boundaries, such as communication time frames (no messaging after 8pm), can ensure that virtual communication goes smoothly. Additionally, setting expectations for communication ensures that all members are checking messages and responding in an appropriate timeframe 

  • Give advanced notice (when possible)

    If you know there is an event or activity coming up that you need attendance or support for, communicate that with your team members as soon as you can. This respects others’ time and means you have a better chance at getting support for your activity

  • Keep it professional

    While there should always be room for fun within student organizations, keeping the language used in group chats or with team members professional will help ensure that all members feel respected and productive. Additionally, the way you communicate, especially in public, reflects on the organization you are a part of.  

  • Common platforms for communication

    Here are some common platforms student organizations use to communicate: 


Organization of Materials


  • OSU OneDrive

    Make a Microsoft One Drive account with your OSU log-in. Share folders, documents, and files in a secure way with anyone in your organization. 

  • Microsoft Teams

    Create a Teams group for your organization. Teams allows you to share documents and files with your group in a centralized location.

  • CampusLink

    Important documents can be housed in the “documents” section of the organization’s page on CampusLink 


Developing and Updating Your Constitution 

  • To develop a new constitution for your student organization, follow this Constitution Template 
  • Applications to update existing constitutions or to start organizations are only active while the SGA Committee on Student Organizations is in session during the fall and spring semesters of the academic year except for academic breaks, the two weeks prior to pre-finals week, and finals week. 
  • To update your constitution, you will need to submit the original or old constitution, the new constitution with tracked changes, and the minutes of the meeting where the new constitution was ratified.  

Develop Your Leadership Skills

The Hargis Leadership Institute provides programs to develop community leaders by enhancing their identity, relationships, and skillsets. 

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