Feature Real. Strong. Women. Sisterhood

Leading Through Change: Reflections on COVID-19

By Allison Summers Ajazi, associate director of education and leadership initiatives

Change has been on all our minds. Whether you are a potential new member wondering what your collegiate experience may look like, a collegiate member wondering how your sisterhood will evolve in this new environment, or an alumnae sister finding new ways to stay connected to Alpha Chi Omega – this is not what any of us expected.

We are all trying to understand the world in a COVID-19 reality. We may not get to connect with our loved ones nearly enough. We may not get to participate in the typical in-person traditions of the sorority experience. But what we can do is continue to offer a place for someone to belong, to offer sisters experiences to flourish, to offer opportunities for connection. Sisterhood doesn’t stop.

Through their work, Alpha Chi Omega’s leadership development specialists (LDS) volunteers have reflected on the idea that leading through change isn’t a skill just for collegiate and alumnae officers; it is a human skill we all need to be reminded of during difficult times. We are not alone in our struggles. We are stronger together. Here are some kind reminders they have to share with you.

Don’t Worry About Over-Communication

Jennifer Lane (Zeta Pi, Arizona State University)

Patrick Lencioni, best-selling author of 11 books related to business/team management, states that the three most important things leaders can do during this time of uncertainty are: 1) be exceedingly human, 2) be persistent in your communication and 3) get out of your comfort zone and be creative. When people are isolated, over-communication is more important than ever. This is an important time to lean into our sisterhood, care for each other, share when we are struggling, communicate openly and often, find ways to challenge each other to find the bright spots, and have fun together in new and creative ways!

Take it day by day and take the time to “see beauty even in the common things of life.”

Courtney Norelius (Delta Nu, Iowa State University)

“Happy are those who take life day by day, complain very little and are thankful for the little things in life.” Although the author of this quote is unknown, it ties in great with a line of our Symphony: “To see beauty even in the common things of life.” That may mean different things to all of us, but it comes as a reminder to appreciate the simple aspects of life – moments that you can hang on to in order to stay grounded, especially in times of uncertainty.

Have more than one plan and ground it in flexibility.

Courtney Norelius (Delta Nu, Iowa State University)

Thinking and planning ahead is a lot harder now with so much in flux. When looking ahead, you almost have to have more than one plan and be flexible. This is a good space to practice your creativity and try new things you’ve never done before because you may need two or three plans for anything you’d normally execute in a pre-COVID world. Ground your plan in flexibility.

Consider how sisters are feeling and care for their well-being.

Armina Khwaja (Epsilon Phi, Georgia Institute of Technology)

According to Gallup, a key predictor of low worry and high confidence is whether each employee believes and experiences that the organization is looking out for their best interest. People – not just employees – expect and hope for their organization to care for their well-being. As leaders, when we think about the novel coronavirus outbreak and how this pandemic is affecting each individual and their [chosen] families uniquely, we need to consider how our members are feeling, how we can express empathy, and how flexible we can/should/want to be as we experience this crisis together in unique ways.

Ask yourself, “what do I want to carry forward from this time in the future?”

Alyssa Anderson Albrecht (Nu, University of Colorado Boulder)

Never waste an opportunity to design the life you want to have. While unprecedented, complex and ambiguous, this time allows individuals, leaders and organizations the time to evaluate and redesign many aspects of life. Ask yourself, “What do I want to carry forward from this time in the future?” It might be walking outside more, connecting with people and checking in more, or maybe it’s a new habit or skill you’ve picked up. The learning is there; don’t be afraid to soak it in amid all of the uncertainty. There is great importance in reflecting and gathering data before jumping to action – which is often the fun part. Reflect on how things were, how things are and how you’d like them to be moving forward. I can’t wait to see what you do!

Try new things that you would have never done before.

Alyssa Anderson Albrecht (Nu, University of Colorado Boulder)

Try new things. We’re trying so many things now we would have never tried before because our environment has opened up a freedom. This can be an iterative process; it doesn’t have to be perfect when it is first launched, but we need to act on something to make it better for the future.

Make the time to connect with each other.

Rebecca Berkey (Alpha Chi, Butler University)

Even more important in the virtual space is to really make time to connect with people. Maybe you already check in once a week with someone – consider doing twice a week for shorter time periods so that you “see” each other and update each other more often. Make time to catch up and see how things are going – there are so many stressful things happening, so staying connected is becoming more and more important in the virtual space. You can’t just walk by someone’s office or desk to say, “Hi,” or see how they’re doing, so make yourself a cup of coffee and a date to catch up on the web!

Take care of yourself and prioritize your mental health.

Jessica Finocchiaro (Beta Omicron, Florida Southern College)

Take care of your mental health and prioritize it. Many of us thought we could handle this for a two-week period in the spring and burnt ourselves out as we continue to face more and more uncertainty. Be proactive for yourself. After all, you can’t pour into others if you have nothing to pour.

Leadership development specialists (LDS) are volunteers who assist chapters in all areas of leadership development, including but not limited to officer transitions, executive board retreats and chapter retreats.

To request support for a collegiate chapter, please contact Jennifer Lane, lead LDS specialist.

Keep up to date on COVID-19 news from Alpha Chi Omega on our website!