Being a head delegate is no easy task; it requires solid leadership skills, at thorough understanding of Model UN, and social skills that facilitate your ability to build close, personal relationships with your club members. Being an effective head delegate requires executive functioning skills–time management, scheduling, budget management, fundraising, recruitment strategy–but arguably the most important responsibility of any head delegate is social integration.
Creating a positive social dynamic and sense of team camaraderie amongst club members requires consistency and genuine effort.
Simple actions, though, can make a massive difference. There are a few classic ways to boost your likeability as head delegate in the eyes of your fellow teammates, and it starts with basic planning.
1. Plan fun activities after committee sessions.
Conferences often seem to last for an eternity, leaving exhausted delegates counting down the last few seconds before the chair suspends debate each night. This concept is referenced as Model UN burnout, referring to the tiresome sensation that follows long periods of intense debate, one that exists in stark contrast to the excitement and anticipation at the beginning of a committee session or conference.
As head delegate, combatting Model UN burnout and revitalizing the energy and spirit of your team is all about planning small, fun activities for your delegates throughout the conference weekend. Small gatherings after committee lets out–things like team dinners, ordering pizza or Insomnia Cookies to the conference hotel, a card game in the hotel lobby, or a quick run to a nearby convenience store to get snacks–will help delegates enjoy themselves during a conference weekend, amidst the abundant stress and intensity of competition. Whatever you choose to do, always remember that light-hearted entertainment is what every delegate needs after four to eight hours of intense debate.
Promoting strong effort in committee while simultaneously providing an enjoyable weekend will bolster your likeability as head delegate.
2. Offer constructive criticism to your delegates.
Another responsibility of the head delegate is to provide peer coaching and feedback, as novice delegates are always looking to their head delegates for advice and improvement. Socially speaking, you want to be approachable and friendly such that club members feel comfortable coming to you with strategy advice or committee issues. Be proactive and ask your delegates on what areas of committee they were confused on, whether it be procedure, logistics, or bloc formation.
Clarify any loose ends, and strive to send your delegates back to committee with newfound confidence, strategic approach, and enthusiasm. Perhaps inquire about the status of their working papers, or listen to their moderated caucus speeches.
After a 4 hour committee session, some delegates may just need to rant; your job is to be there to listen and engage, even if they are not asking for substantive advice in return.
As a head delegate, your overarching goal is to not only provide a great conference experience, but also to ensure that all teammates perform at their best by pushing themselves. When things get tough, don’t let frustrated teammates give up! Challenge them to stay engaged; they will thank you after closing ceremonies.
3. Build personal relationships with your members.
Each member is different: some are very quiet and timid, others are loud and outgoing. Getting to know your delegates allows you to uncover their hidden strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps the shy girl who avoids speaking in moderated caucuses is an excellent researcher with vast knowledge of public health. Perhaps the bold and confident junior struggles with writing resolutions, because he never considered himself a good writer. Whether it be through team meetings or simple conversation, head delegates should strive to understand their members and hone them to the best of their abilities.
5. Be safe.
Respecting rules may not make you popular in the short term, but it will bolster the reputation of your team and increase the performance of each individual delegate in the long term. Respecting conference curfews, staying in groups when exploring the conference city, keeping the volume level down in hotel rooms: these are things that can be gently enforced without necessitating a “top down” approach that would compromise your likeability as head delegate. As head delegate, the burden of enforcing rules should fall on the shoulders of the faculty advisor, not you; but setting an example is a whole different story. Setting a balance between an enjoyable weekend and a focused, effort-driven competition is the best way to lead a team. Ideally, the team enjoys itself by embracing the academic aspect of the activity and competing with valor.
Lastly, do not forget that being a head delegate presents a valuable opportunity for personal growth, too; do not fall prey to losing yourself in nobly serving your team.
Be thoughtful about your behavior, create a positive team environment that rewards lightheartedness just as it does competitive effort, and be a resource for your delegates to awaken the best version of themselves. In following these general guidelines, you can be a head delegate in more than just name, but in practice and legacy, too.