Is Full Disclosure Always Best?

As a member of the former Sigma Nu Beta Zeta chapter of Purdue University I have been exposed to a multitude of different leadership styles between the different leadership positions we had within our house. The one position in which leadership styles differentiate the most from one term to the next is that of our president. Before our chapter was closed I had the privilege of seeing four different presidents come through our house, each with their own distinctive leadership style.

Our house had always been known for getting in trouble and we were never on the good side of Purdue University or our national organization. With that being said, it was the presidents responsibility to handle all external matters concerning those two organizations. Such matters usually dealt with alcohol or hazing related incidents, as well as other things. The greatest difference I noticed between the four presidents we had during my time in the house, was how much they disclosed to the rest of the chapter. The president my sophomore year would never tell us when we were in trouble, unless it was something very serious that required us to stop all activities in order to save face. If it was something more minimal however such as minor sanctions from the university he would not inform us of it at all, and let us continue to live our lives uninterrupted. The president my junior year took a slightly different approach, he would tell us if we were in trouble and inform of us how we needed to conduct ourselves no matter how minimal the charges or sanctions were. One thing he did though that frustrated a lot of the chapter members was his vagueness. He was never very blunt, he would always attempt to tell us as little as possible. Why this was the case? I don’t know, I can only assume it was that he feared us blaming him for the issues and wanted to stay out of the line of fire. Our third president during my time took a very different approach than the previous two, knowing that we were frustrated with not always knowing what was going on he told us everything and gave us full disclosure.

The implications of these three policies were all very different. The first president I mentioned was undoubtedly the best and most liked president to come through the house in years. He did not bother brothers with petty problems unless absolutely necessary, and was generally liked by all. The second president was liked very much as a brother but not so much as president. People began to grow very frustrated of his vagueness towards the end of his term, and you could tell he was worn out. When his term finally ended it seemed to be the best thing for both him and the house. The third president had the most honest approach but it also seemed to cause some problems. People were happy that he would tell us everything but in an organization of over 100 members this can cause a lot of disagreement on how to handle certain situations. This led to major inefficiencies as we would waste time trying to find solutions to problems that could easily be solved by one person.

Being able to observe all these different styles was very interesting and helped me learn a lot about leadership. What I concluded was that the best leadership approach was that of our first president. He only filled us in on important matters when absolutely need be, and handled all the smaller more trivial issues on his own time. This allowed the chapter to work together on important issues to find the best possible solution, while not wasting time arguing over trivial unimportant things.

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