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Preparing your new Students’ Union officers for success

The role of uniting newly elected sabbatical officers, and empowering them to build trust, represent, and empower students in a post-Covid world has never been harder.

With the changes brought on by the pandemic, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends and strategies for effective team development. So let me help with some insight...

Why the induction matters

That's me (yellow t-shirt), 17 years ago, as a fresh-faced elected officer.

My passion runs incredibly deep for the work of Unions, and now, a few wrinkles later and as a leader of a large function and a leadership and team trainer, I understand the uniqueness and intricacies of bonding a team of individuals that barely know each other. I also know that some of the post-pandemic approaches I see global brands adopt can also be transformational for Student’s Unions.

New officers need to feel safe, supported, empowered, and part of a team that can grow and succeed. The risks, however, of not getting the early weeks right include a lack of unity, poor communication, indecision, and delays that can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction.

So, what makes a good induction for today's world? I’ve had a career dedicated to helping people succeed, ending up in jobs such as Director of Marketing at the youth charity, The Prince’s Trust, and becoming an MBA Leadership Lecturer.

My company, Hack Yourself, builds leaders and high-performing teams for the modern world. Three years ago I went on a mission to take the learnings from training global brands to see how it could be applied for Students' Union sabbatical teams…

I discovered the one thing that resonated and had the biggest impact… self-leadership.

Self-leadership: the secret to strong Student’s Union teams

York University Students’ Union (YUSU), an organisation I hugely admire for their bold and brave approach, brought us in to run our Hack Yourself day with their newly elected team.

The whole day has self-leadership at the heart of it.

Self-leadership (the ability to take responsibility for one's own actions, motivation, and development) is key to building a strong and effective team.

Our 'One Team' workshop digs deep into this. Let’s take a look at what we focus on to help you consider how your inductions work:

TEAMWORK: Create a deep bond between the newly elected Sabbatical Officers that will be the foundation for all to come.

PERFORMANCE: Ensure a great understanding of each other’s strengths, values and passions, to improve collaborative working.

IMPACT: Build new self-leadership and team leadership skills to ensure their big ideas lead to big change.

Specifically, we orientated the day towards these outcomes:

By focusing on self-leadership, officers can become proactive, motivated, and effective communicators, leading to better decision making, trust building, and successful representation of students.

What makes a self-leadership workshop different to a normal team bonding session?

They are worlds apart. And done properly, can be a personal awakening for the individuals, and a bond that can last a lifetime.

We’ve been invited back to YUSU for two years running and received 5-star feedback. The benefits of self-leadership training will help you see why:

  • Greater understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses

  • Increased motivation and drive

  • Greater ability to adapt to change

  • Better communication and interpersonal skills

  • Increased emotional intelligence

  • Improved time management and organisation

  • Greater ability to set and achieve goals

  • Increased resilience and stress management

  • Improved team dynamics and collaboration

Food for thought...

As the world of work continues to change rapidly, student leaders need to be equipped with the skills necessary to navigate these changes.

I whole-heartedly believe that self-leadership, done properly, and through a lens of a changing world in which we live, can be the foundation for all the success that follows.

I'm on a mission to take my Hack Yourself approach to more Students' Unions this year. To find out more about how it could work for your incoming officers, read all about our Students' Union training. You can contact me directly too.


Founder and author of Hack Yourself


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