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Motivating the Middle with T.J. Sullivan

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Thursday, May 3, 2018
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM CDT
Student Union BallroomMap Location


Your student organization has thirds.  Top-third leaders wrap their personal identity in your group, exert the most influence on its actions, and make your group their top priority.  Middle-third members care about your organization and the relationships they have there, but it’s one of several competing priorities.  Bottom-third members are disengaged, potentially causing drama, or checked out.  Unfortunately, most top-third leaders spend the majority of their time fighting the bottom-third – trying to make them attend events, care more deeply, and contribute more.

In 2012, T.J. published “Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations” which has quickly become one of the top selling books on student leadership in the nation.  In his book and his campus keynote, T.J. urges student leaders to start motivating and leading their members based on those members’ chosen level of engagement.  You can’t make a bottom-third member care as much as a top-third leader!  But, you can motivate and lead everyone if you adopt appropriate strategies specific to your members’ level of engagement.  And, T.J. says, student leaders need to focus less energy on the disengaged bottom-third and start spending more time “Motivating the Middle.”

Leadership classes, fraternities and sororities, student governments, residence life and housing staff and more are using this quick, practical leadership model inspiration to reshape their approach to motivating and engaging their shareholders.  T.J.‘s keynote has been extremely popular for campus leadership conferences.  It’s an easily digested leadership model with immense practical application value.  Your student leaders and staff will emerge with a whole new perspective about how to get things done in their organizations and on your campus.

LEARNING OUTCOMES:  Help leaders understand different levels of “engagement” in their members or constituents • Identify motivating factors for those at different levels of engagement • Discuss how certain events, practices or habits negatively impact motivation and engagement • Change expectation of student leaders that they can force members to a certain level of engagement • Change student leader strategy toward one of engaging members “where they are” • Reduce student leader burnout through establishment of more realistic expectations of member involvement