#033: The Three Essentials of Officer Training

A couple weeks ago I unexpectantly ran into an old friend that I first met back at a student org officer retreat when I was in high school. Our student org would get together with seven neighboring chapters and hold a summer retreat designed to get us ready for the upcoming school year.

After that encounter, I started thinking back to the officer retreats I attended, the ones I work with now, and how they play a part in the overall officer training plan.

I am amazed that the vast majority of student organization’s officer training is… nothing. They don’t do anything to train their officers. They just expect that they either have the skills or figure them out. This is absurd to me but I’ll hold back my rant on this topic for another day.


The next most common component of an officer training is a summer retreat. This is great. I loved those summer officer retreats when I was a student org officer and even now they are my favorite programs to work with. I would take a retreat over a keynote every day of the week.

However, these summer retreats aren’t always effective. They can be major information overload sessions and if all you do is a summer retreat will likely forget much of the information when they actually need it several months down the road.

This podcast episode will help you get the most out of your officer training.


To help design a better officer training I believe there are three main components; Motivation, Team Dynamics, and Processes. Each play a different role and each play an integral part to a high performing officer team.

You are responsible…

Yes, it’s YOUR fault.

That argument with your teammate. The bashing heads with your stubborn advisor. It’s on you.

That stings, but it’s the truth. Or at least it needs to be your truth.

This has nothing to do with whose to blame. Frankly, I don’t care whose to blame and neither should you. Blame it worthless and distracting at best. It’s about taking responsibility. It’s about taking control of what’s in your control. Because once you do, and only once you do, can you start moving towards a solution.

The only way to move forward is to accept the responsibility for your problems. By accepting responsibility you empower yourself. You go from letting life beat you up to actively influencing every aspect of it.

The Conversation Tracker

The way you interact with people plays a huge role in your life.

Are you constantly bombarded with emails asking quick questions, or do you send those “oh one more thing” messages? Have you ever walked away from a meeting and realized you completely forgot to bring up an important item.

The Conversation Tracker can solve all that.



Fish: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results [Leader Reader]

In this week’s Leader Reader we are talking about the book Fish! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christenson.

Youth Leadership Speaker - Nick Palkowski

Fish is a story of the world famous Pike’s Place Fish Market. Mary Jane, the main character in this story discovers this fish market for the first time when she goes for a walk during lunch to get away from the toxic energy of her workplace.

Pike’s Place is filled with a completely different kind of energy.

Fish are flying through the air. There’s a group of employees having fun and engaging with the people around them. There’s even a crowd of people gathering around just to watch them work. People are laughing and enjoying the whole experience.

Through a mentor named Lonnie, Mary Jane begins to learn the secrets behind Pike’s Place. How they turned the smelly, slimy business of selling fish into the world famous Pike’s Place fish market.

Fish describes her journey of discovering these secrets and implements them into her work environment. It’s really the story of transformation, of taking an organization from ordinary to extraordinary.

5 Ways to a High Performing Student Organization Officer Team

As the school years wind to a close across the nation, many newly elected student organization officer teams are gathering for the very first time. Just beginning their journey through a year long process of becoming a team.

It’s an exciting time, filled with both anticipation and anxiousness. While in high school our student leadership team had some very fun and memorable times together, our summer officer retreat stands out as one of the most memorable.

What makes this time so important is that now is when student leadership teams begin to go through the forming stage. But growing in your relationship with your teammates is not something that just happens at the start of the year. It is a continual, intentional process. Here are five ways to help any student organization team strengthen their relationships and become a high performing team.

1.) Cultivate a Team Culture

This should be a separate, and distinct culture from rest of the student organization. There should be a sort of closeness that exists between the team members. The officer team should have it’s own uniqueness, it’s own quirks.

For example, one officer team had their own mascot, a stuffed fish. Another had a team song, “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.” These were things that were often brought up and joked about when even a few of the team members were together.

It was not some sort of official piece of business or anything like that. Cultivating a team culture happens when the team members are able to open up with each other and have some fun. Not just focus on the projects that need to be accomplished.

2.) Social Time

Why Summer Is Important to Student Officer Teams.

It’s finally summer!

That means nice weather, a break from classes, vacations, extra time with friends, and if you’re like me lots of time on the water.

For student organizations these three months “off” are some of the most important of the year. It’s a time for planning, training, and coming together for student organization officer teams. It’s when they really set the foundation for the year to come.

When I was a chapter FFA officer our big prep time as a team was a summer officer retreat with seven local chapters. We would go to a camp ground for a few days for some leadership training, project planning, team bonding, and intense games of spoons every night (The CFC officers dominated of course!).

But the big question is, why are these summer months so important to your team?