Learning, integrity, leadership, benefit, excellence, and value, these are the values of my Fraternity. As a member of my Fraternity we are expected to live by these values every single day, but sometimes these values fall by the wayside when it comes to Fraternity politics and elections for new leaders. When people think of politics, I am fairly sure that people will not think of Fraternities and the internal issues that prelude elections. In order to fully understand Fraternities and how they work they should understand how Fraternities build leadership, the article “4 Ways Fraternities Foster Leadership Skills For a Lifetime” helps describe this.
As I went on through my journey in the chapter, I did not know if I wanted to be President of my Chapter. One day I realized that me being President was the difference between my chapter moving forward and succeeding or failing and getting kicked off campus. In September of 2014, I made an agreement with my friend that I would run for Vice President and he would run for President, but I knew this was not the best decision. In this time I realized that I was having a dilemma, and I decided to take on the role of the moral politician. I was willing to do whatever it took to ensure that my chapter could thrive. At this moment I started to devise a plan to win the Presidency and to ensure that my chapter would turn around. I started to engage in what some would think of as dirty politics. I convinced our closest friends to all support me for President, and convincing my friend to run for the Vice President spot. In the end, my friend did not really have the choice, I would be able to win no matter what, but I wanted to avoid as much conflict as possible. The whole time I had an internal dilemma about if i was being a bad person or if I was being a good person. I was able to sleep at night because I told myself because I was doing what was best for my chapter, just like how Machiavelli thought that a Prince should do what is best for his people no matter how bad the actions to get there are.
I won the election and became President. I did not feel bad at this point and I was willing to do whatever else it took to ensure my Chapter’s success. We were on probation, so we had to turn ourselves around. First, I made an example of certain members to prove that I was not going to be taking this year lightly. Within the first two weeks I kicked two men out in order to show that certain actions would not be tolerated, and this started with people being mad at me, but then led to them respecting me and fearing me. I took another Machiavellian principle and realized that being fear was far better than being loved. My chapter shaped up, and some of my tactics for kicking the men out of my chapter were not necessarily the best ways, but they had to be done. Finally, I cared about my people. I sought out the guys in my chapter that could be great leaders, and I empowered them. This gave me the best support network to be able to have loyal followers. I began to love my time as chapter President, and I felt that I was actually making a difference.
A few months into it, I began to feel empty as Chapter President. I did not feel happy with my choices and I went to a National Leadership Conference for my Fraternity and realized that I was not living by my Chapter’s principles. I was not valuing my brothers, I was not acting with integrity, and I am not completely sure I was acting with integrity. I started to realize that I have to live by the ideals of my Fraternity in order to best serve my Chapter. This led to me changing the ways in how I acted in my chapter, how I interacted with my fellow executive board, and how I made decisions. I started to go against many of the people I worked with because I did not think what we were doing were within our values. I started to have some people turn against me and I started to become more isolated. In the end, I think I started to prove Machiavelli’s point. I began to act like Antigone and followed our principles so closely that I started to become negatively affected. I began to lose my power within the chapter, so me acting within our principles and following a morale code made me lose power. In the end, I had to step down from the Presidency because i did not make grades. There was not a rule at the time about a President and his grades, but I felt that I was doing my chapter a disservice. I knew that I was not representing my Chapter’s principles in the best way and I knew that as President I had to exceed these principles. In the end of the day, I chose to step down. I lived so closely to principles and this caused me to lose my power. I did not mind this though, just like how Antigone did not care that she would die in the end for following her principles, I did not mind stepping down. I was proud of my actions and I knew that I was making the best choice.
So in the end, I am not sure what is better. Being a Machiavellian leader ensured that I got a lot done, but being a leader like Antigone made me feel better at the end of the day. I felt that I was a better person, and I still made a huge difference in my chapter. Neither is wrong, but I think I prefer living by my values and leading by those also.