By Samantha Armstrong, M.Ed.
Assistant Director, Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life
“While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship or a life – any single conversation can.”
- Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations
Last fall, a former Chapter President and Panhellenic Officer turned WSU Grad Student (Jami Harrison), introduced me to the book Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. Since that time, I have become a Fierce junkie. I have attended Fierce training sessions, brought a Fierce company representative to work with our Greek leaders, presented the concepts to colleagues, and bought the book for almost everyone I know. As a professional educator, I have sought high and low for tools that would help me tackle tough conversations and enable me to teach students how to tackle tough conversations with their peers. I have found those tools in Susan Scott’s work.
While the material presented in the book may be thought of as common sense, I find that most of it is not common practice. Fierce believes that “the central function of a leader is to engineer intelligent, spirited conversations that provide the basis for high levels of alignment, collaboration and partnership at all levels throughout an organization” (Fierce Website, 2009). Scott’s book outlines how to approach changing the way we engage with one another via conversation in order to achieve our highest level of performance and help students do the same. Over the past year of using Fierce techniques, I have seen a marked difference in not only my relationship with student leaders I have used these techniques with but, how they approach their lives. Students have latched onto the concepts and terminology.
So why am I writing this piece for you as Greek Alumni? It is very simple. I believe that Fierce conversations could help revolutionize how you work with and mentor undergraduate fraternity men and sorority women. Even if you do not read the whole book or attend a Fierce workshop or training session, the book outlines several models in its Appendix. Conversation models target the following areas:
This model seeks to engage teams in
a way that moves the organization
forward, allows people to be open
and honest, and helps groups make
Personal Note: I have seen great success with the Team Conversation model and students using it. It provides them a format to approach an issue with an entire chapter and outline their thoughts fluently.
This model strives to help
individuals be clear and aid others
in their growth as
Personal Note: I have had tremendous success with this model personally. When I use the coaching techniques with students I work with the conversation is completely different then when I do not.
This model helps groups and
individuals with accountability and
provides an outline for growth of
Personal Note: If you have student leaders you are working with that struggle to engage their whole executive board or chapter, this model is for them!
This model serves as a tool for
those individuals and teams who
need to confront and resolve issues
with individuals and
Personal Note: Students I have worked with seem to love this model. I attribute this mainly to the fact that most of us struggle to confront or see confrontation as a negative thing to be avoided at all cost. Fierce reframes this for us and makes it a positive and manageable conversation.
As you move forward with your service to your organization and the WSU Greek Community, I encourage you to engage in Fierce conversations!
When you think of Fierce, think passion, integrity, authenticity, collaboration. Think leadership. Think Greek renaissance.
For more information about Fierce visit their website at http://www.fierceinc.com OR order the book Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.