ACHIEVE (Aspire, Challenge, Honor, Integrity, Engage, Value, Excellence) is a values-based programming initiative designed to support members’ personal growth and development as leaders. The program focuses on four key values of fraternity membership – learning, service, friendship and leadership – and was developed from a student development standpoint. ACHIEVE is delivered by student affairs professionals and other trained facilitators from across North America. All facilitators have been trained in student development theory and leadership theory.
The program is deeply rooted in student development theory, including Arthur Chickering’s Theory of Identity Development, William Perry’s Theory of Intellectual and Ethical Development, David Kolb’s Theory of Experiential Learning and the Social Change Model of Leadership. ACHIEVE affords student leaders the opportunity to learn about themselves and one another in a safe environment. Participants also have the opportunity to explore their own values as they relate to Phi Sigma Sigma’s core values (lifelong learning, inclusiveness, and leadership through service), become aware of issues and challenges they face as leaders, and create a network of support within the international and collegiate community of Phi Sigma Sigma.
The ACHIEVE program begins by asking participants to consider what they want to accomplish, what commitments they are willing to make to achieve their goals, and what kind of leader/sister/person they wish to become as a result of their Fraternity experiences. ACHIEVE participants then rotate through the four sessions – Service, Lifelong Learning, Leadership, and Friendship. Group sharing is a critical component of the program, and each session incorporates large group discussions, small group discussions, learning activities and written self-reflection. A brief description of each follows:
• Service: Participants discuss the importance of service to the Greek community, why service is one of Phi Sigma Sigma’s core values, and the difference between service and philanthropy.
• Lifelong Learning: Participants participate in True Colors, an activity designed to explore personality and leadership characteristics. Participants discuss how their color type influences their interactions with others and how to best work with other color types. The session also asks participants to reflect on one person who has inspired them to want to learn and one person they know to whom they could provide inspiration.
• Leadership: Participants identify the characteristics and values of leaders and then reflect on which characteristics describe them. Participants receive training on the Social Change Model of Leadership and the Seven C’s of Leadership and discuss their use by organizations, businesses and community groups. Participants then consider how to bring the information back to their chapters and how to ensure they are staying focused.
• Friendship: This session provides a safe environment for participants to discuss behaviors that are incongruent with Phi Sigma Sigma’s core values and standards. For example, hazing and the inability to resolve conflict lead to unhealthy chapters. Participants engage in a number of exercises to explore the role of friendship in our chapters. Through this session, participants learn that without a culture of care, members are not engaged or motivated to share or live the core values of Phi Sigma Sigma.
The ACHIEVE program concludes by asking participants to reflect on what they learned, how they will change their own behavior as a result (what they will begin doing and what they will stop doing) and what conversations they need to have when they return to their campuses. In addition, participants consider who they can enlist to help them in making positive changes, how they will measure their achievements and what their legacy will be within the chapter and Phi Sigma Sigma.
ACHIEVE was piloted at our international Leadership Training School in July 2005. The response of the pilot was overwhelmingly positive. Extensive assessment including focus groups, surveys, and informal interviews was conducted. After reviewing the results of the assessment, the curriculum was refined to meet the intended outcomes of group interaction, awareness of a larger community of learners, understanding of the role of service as an active citizen and the importance of a strong network.
The revised program has been the cornerstone programming at our Leadership Conferences (LCs) held each winter. These weekend-long conferences bring together executive officers and other sisters interested in emerging as chapter leaders, chapter advisors, regional alumnae volunteers, the international board of directors, the Foundation board of directors and Headquarters staff for ACHIEVE and other leadership development activities. Phi Sigma Sigma is pleased to share this experience with over 1,000 women each year.
ACHIEVE supports our belief that leadership is a process and not merely a position, that every member contributes to the success of her chapter and that positive change is the key to the future success of Phi Sigma Sigma. This initiative is instrumental in developing lifelong transferable skills that our women will be able to apply to virtually any life situation. The program is intentionally designed to complement many of the leadership activities that already occur on college campuses.