Choosing an effective leadership model is critical to a GSA. There are many different ways your club’s leadership can be organized and many different ways for your club to make decisions. Before selecting leaders, or even your club’s leadership model, first decide if your GSA is a peer-support group, activism group, or social group, and write your club’s mission statement. As your GSA expands, you can expand the nature of your GSA into more than one of these domains.
When choosing your leadership model, keep in mind what will be expected of club leaders, who they will report to, and what model is most likely to be sustainable for your club in the years to come. Be sure to check whether your school policies require a particular leadership arrangement.
Don’t forget to ask group members what they want, and listen.
Hierarchy-based Leadership: President (or Co-Presidents), Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, etc. This format can be useful for getting things done because it has well-defined roles and designates a clear chain of responsibility.
Board-based Leadership: Your club has a “board” of people who lead the GSA. Each board member has a defined leadership role which covers major areas of responsibility (e.g. Facilitator, Chair or Co-Chairs, Outreach/Publicity Coordinator, Program Coordinator, Funding Coordinator, Grade Representatives, etc.). This model tends to be more egalitarian than hierarchy-based structure; while leadership positions are well-defined, board members make decisions collectively and report/answer to the whole group instead of a President or Co-President. However, this structure can be challenging, especially with smaller clubs.
Committee-based Leadership: Specific committees are formed to address particular GSA objectives or needs and are led by committee “chairs” which give individual reports at large group meetings. Sample committees include: fundraising committee, events committee, publicity committee, visibility and education committee, etc. Usually, this structure works best for larger clubs. To combine this leadership model with the one above, consider having committee chairs also meet as a leadership board.
After you choose the right leadership model for your GSA, you will want to decide how often your club leaders will meet, and whether leadership/committee meetings will be separate from large-group meetings for all members. Some GSAs have club leaders meet weekly or bi-weekly outside of the large group, and then give a report and present items for vote, etc. Others combine leadership and large group meetings, where officers or board members will give reports to the whole group and everyone is involved in discussing important items.
Suggestions and Guidelines for Transitioning GSA Leadership Smoothly
- Set up a mentoring system
- Transfer leadership before the year ends
- Take notes over the year to see what works and what doesn’t
- Keep an annotated calendar and pass it down
- Get educated! Make sure that all the leaders in your GSA watch the training videos available on texasgsanetwork.org and complete the accompanying worksheets
- Plan a mini-retreat for the beginning of the school year or over the summer to develop relationships among your club’s current and incoming leaders, build momentum for the next year, and give older leaders a chance to debrief and offer advice
- Have current leaders keep organized files, notes, and paperwork that they can pass along to new leaders
Download PDF - TYPESOFGSALEADERSHIP.pdf