You can have your cake, and eat it too!

As a student leader, I have learned that event planning is no easy task.  Even a simple event can take weeks, if not months, to prepare and has several layers of complexities.  From meeting with advisors to meeting with professional staff to contacting vendors to completing paper work in a timely manner, planning an event takes a lot of time and dedication.  Therefore, it would be quite an impossible task for one person to plan every event in a large student organization such as the Off-Campus Students’ Association (OCSA).  Planning more than 15 events per semester is no easy feat to accomplish.  It takes an entire board of 17 people to make these events happen without major flaws.

In the end, however, I am one of the people accountable if any event has problems since I am the vice president of OCSA.  I do not necessarily have to do everything myself, but it is my job to ensure that my event chairs are doing everything in a timely manner and that they do not have any questions.  If responsibilities are delegated appropriately, most events are successful.  One of our jobs, as the leaders of the organization, is to assign people events that we think will cater to their strengths and improve upon their weaknesses.  For example, if a person is very creative, then we might assign them an event that lets them take advantage of this wonderful quality.  If a person is very meticulous in their work or has prior experience planning events, then we may assign them an event that requires a lot of paper work.  Once a person is assigned an event, it is their obligation to make that event their own.  It is completely up to their discretion how they choose to run the event, how many people they need, what kind of people they want presenting at the event, et cetera.  I feel that if the person in charge of the event is given such creative freedom, then they will be empowered to create an event that is amazing and memorable.  It is merely our job to prevent them from falling into any pitfalls or to give them warnings or suggestions about how to deal with various difficult situations.

The cycle of delegation! Find where you are on the cycle and then follow the path. Remember, pay it forward and delegate!

The main point that I am trying to make is that if the person in charge of the event has creative freedom, they will be empowered.  This will prove to them that they are trusted and that the entire organization is willing to follow their leadership for the event.  This point relates well to one of the major tenants of the Relational Leadership Model: empowerment.  Empowerment will include personal mastery for the individual so that in the future, this person is even more self-reliant and an even better leader than before.  By creating this empowering environment in the organization, it will promote the idea that each individual has something to offer and will promote the self-esteem of every events chair.  As mentioned in the Exploring Leadership book, this empowerment will also lead to better sharing of information, individual and team learning skills, and promoting self-leadership.

One of the most successful original OCSA events of all time! It took a board of 17 members about two months to prepare this event.

Delegation is always a difficult task for the leaders of organizations.  From my various experiences, I would suggest to get to know the individuals who comprise the committee and various chairs, and make them organize events that cater to their strengths.  This way, all events will be successful, and other, potentially weak attributes of each individual will also be strengthened eventually.  Another important aspect of delegation is to make sure that one person does not have too many responsibilities.   For example, when OCSA was planning our semi-formal event in the spring called “Spring Fling,” we had all 17 members of the OCSA board working on the event because it required so much work and advertising.  Another tip that is really important is that if a person is doing an event for the first time, make sure that they are constantly being guided along the right path and that they are asking questions.  It is a lot easier to correct something before it happens rather than retroactively correct it.  Also have extra, very reliable individuals in case you ever need help at an event or something goes wrong.  My last tip would be to delegate well before the event so that if someone cannot complete a certain task, another person can take additional responsibility.  When planning an event, time is your biggest ally, but can also be your worst enemy!

“Delegating means letting others become the experts and hence the best.”  ~Timothy Firnstahl

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