So I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, attempting to familiarize myself with the literature associated with Fraternity and Sorority Life, including works from Lawrence Ross, Walter Kimbrough, Rupert Nacoste, and many many more. That and a recent post by Sigma Nu Fraternity on “7 books every fraternity leader should read this summer” got me in the mood to share my own list:
1) Taking a top read from that specific list, I would suggest The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo. This book is a reflection on his famous Stanford Prison Experiment and other crucial matters that Zimbardo’s expertise has been called upon for. It is a haunting tale about the effect that environment can have upon a person…important elements for every leader to acknowledge as they work and interact with those who have entrusted them with leadership. (the tag line on this tale is “Understanding How Good People Turn Evil”)
2) Second is Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram. Perhaps you have heard of these infamous experiments where Dr. Milgram had one person “shock” another when they answered incorrectly about a list. He indicated for the experiment to continue even when the person seemed to be in extreme pain and 70% of the time, participants followed suit. This read is excellent for leaders in order to understand their power as a leader.
– As a side note, imagine trying to get these research proposals past the IRB these days…wow. One other study I would strongly suggest looking into as a leader in the work of Solomon Asch and his conformity experiments.
3) The third book I would suggest reading is How Colleges Work by Robert Birnbaum. In it he discusses the five different types of power that people utilize ranging from coercion to referential. And understanding of these, how they are implemented in the world Fraternities and Sororities work in and with, and how they relate to leadership make this a great read for any student, faculty, or staff member, whether a member of the FSL community or not.
4) I would also suggest reading Making Gumbo in the University by Rupert Nacoste. This work includes some great examples, excellent explanations, and is also a great learning tool covering a number of social psychological principles. A great read in helping leaders understand their social presence, relationships with others, and working with the diverse experience of their leaders.
5) My final major suggestion would be Motivating the Middle by TJ Sullivan. This champion for fraternity and sorority life and founder of Campuspeak also gave us the concept of you’re always wearing your letters. This book offers some awesome insight when it comes to re-energizing and motivating your organization.
All of these are excellent reads when it comes to being a leader, especially for our generally young leaders of individual chapters. If you want more even beyond these, check out a number of works from The Fraternity Advisor, Patrick Daley, or the founders of Phired Up, Mattson and Orendi. With Jess Gendron, they wrote Social Excellence. Another Great resource is Dan Wrona and the group he founded, Rise Partnerships. If you are looking for information about other councils, two great starting points are the Divine Nine by Lawrence Ross or Black Greek 101 by Walter Kimbrough.
**Please note that This is merely a suggestion