Being a Head Delegate
By Edward Fletcher, Southern University
Written by Millie Warner, Princeton University
The role of the head delegate is to lead his Model U.N. team in both administrative and substantive matters. Although many teams have a faculty advisor in addition to a head delegate, it is the head delegate who should take the initiative, endeavoring to alleviate as much as possible from the faculty advisor. The responsibilities of the head delegate range from planning trips and fundraising to providing moral support for the group and coordinating the group's substantive policy position. Thus, it is important to discuss the qualities of effective leadership in general in order to understand the function of the head delegate.
First, let us define what it means to be the "head delegate." Titles may vary between clubs, so that in some instances, the head delegate may be referred to as the club or the team president. Even if your club does not have an officially labeled "head delegate," the head delegate is identified as the student member who takes charge organizing the team and leading its research the strategic efforts. Before the conference, the head delegate organizes the team structurally. Once the conference begins, the head delegate becomes a "field delegate," which means he must take it upon himself to check in regularly with the committees in which a teammate is participating fully in the committee debate and not compromising policy goals for the sake of other team goals, such as winning as award or passing a resolution.
The head delegate must both motivate and discipline the group. If the Model U.N.> group is organized as a club, as opposed to a class, the head delegate must find creative ways to inspire teammates to put in the necessary hours of research and hard preparatory work for which they will receive no academic credit. In either the club or class setting, the head delegate must be disciplinarian in order to keep the group focused and moving toward its goal, despite distractions. Since the conference may be held in country or city that many team members have never before visited, some may be distracted from their work as delegates. The head delegate must therefore take it upon himself to remind the team of their responsibilities and keep the team moving on track. although the role of disciplinarian of fellow students is often the most difficult aspect of being a head delegate, it is a necessary responsibility, and one not to be deflected to the faculty advisor. Yet how should the delegate implement this role and fulfill his responsibilities? What skills or qualities are needed in a head delegate in order to perform these tasks? First, the head delegate must be a model delegate in his own right, and must lead the team by example. this means, of course, working and communicating well with others and finding the appropriate balance between flexibility and perseverance
There are approximately seven principles from "Practice of Facilitative Leadership," which may be applied to leadership positions generally, but which may also be considered specifically in the context of being a head delegate.
(1) The first such practice is to share an inspiring vision. This is basically the skill of group coordination. Since any team or group is composed of individuals, several expectations or view-points necessarily exist within any group. The head delegate must not take for granted the homogeneity of the group. Eclectic expectations may be a divisive force, since each member may be working towards a different goal.
(2) Focus on results, process and relationship. The head delegate must strike a balance between these three imperatives. For example, the head delegate should not concentrate so much on the results he ruins the relationship between team members.
(3) Seek maximum appropriate involvement. A good leader builds the organization so that it may succeed after he leaves it. the measure of a good leader is how well he delegates responsibility and builds the structure so that the organization can survive and thrive in the long term. The head delegate should not measure his success only while he is leading the group. Rather, he must delegate responsibility to prepare those who will come after him
(4) Model behaviors that facilitate collectivity. The head delegate should ensure that every team member is involved to facilitate a feeling of collective, team effort. The head delegate should avoid giving the feeling that only he/she leads the group in a solo effort.
(5) Design pathways to action. It is the job of the head delegate to create the structure of the team. How he does so is a matter of preference, but he should always ensure that the structure serves the team’s long and short term goals.
(6) Bring out the best in others. A facilitative leader will bring out the other’s skills. This means that the head delegate should coach and evaluate teammates, and endeavor to put them in positions in which these skills will be used to let the utmost capacity.
(7) Celebrate accomplishment. The head delegate must be sure to celebrate when the team achieves a goal. He must let the team know that he is proud of them.
Duties Before the Conference
(1) Recruit members. The head delegate should find others who share in the Model U.N. interest. For example, debate club members have skills that are easily translatable into Model U.N.
(2) Publicize the club. Recruit someone from the newspaper staff to be in Model U.N., or find some other way to have a positive relationship with the media outlets.
(3) Select conferences to attend. Conferences fill up before the semester, so prepare a full season ahead. This is also important, because if you plan too late, all the countries you may have wanted may already be assigned. The head delegate should plan with this group where they want to go over the next two years.
(4) Select a Country. This is a task that must be done in a collective conversation with the entire membership. A list of 5 to 7 countries should be created, since a particular conference may no be able to grant each delegation its first one or two choices.
(5) Select Members to attend the conference. This is often the hardest part of being a head delegate. If not all the members can attend the conference, the selection process should be based on who is working hardest and who attends the meetings most regularly. The head delegate should not make this decision unilaterally, so as to avoid having the anger of the members not chosen to attend concentrated on him. The head delegate should make it with as large a committee as possible. Those who make the decision should be the head delegate, other club officers, and faculty advisor.
(6) Placing delegates on committees. Talent should be spread out, so the head delegate should avoid placing two best delegates on the same committee. He should ask each member to write down his top three committee choices and explain why he wants each one. The decision of placing a member on a particular committee should be made based on what that member has done in the past and what skills that member has that are applicable in that committee.
(7) Prepare delegates. The head delegate should make sure that all delegates are well versed in the rules of the conference, the culture and policy position of their assigned country, and general U.N. structure and issues. The head delegate should try to bring guest lecturers to committee meetings. Professor who may be experts in a particular fields are a good resource.
(8) Make travel arrangements. This should not be done by the head delegate in conjunction with the faculty advisor. "You can delegate authority, but not responsibility," so that even though the faculty advisor or a club officer may decide some logistical matters, it is always the job of the head delegate to make sure everything gets done.
(9) Share strategy. This is particularly important for the first time delegate. The head delegate need not only educate the members on their country and position, but also on tricks on how to lobby, how to get on the speaker_s list, how to negotiate, etc.
The Head Delegate at the Conference
A roaming head delegate is one who is not assigned to a committee himself, but whose only job is to ensure that all delegates are doing well and representing the team to the beat of their ability in their respective committees. However, not every team has the resources to have a delegate that is not assigned to a committee. If this is the case, the head delegate must balance the tasks of a roaming delegate with doing well on his own committee.
At the conference, the head delegate must check in on all committees of teammates, and must make sure that all team members are doing well physically and mentally. Physically, they must be comfortable in their committee rooms, have their placards, etc.. Mentally, they must be working on a resolution or considering which resolutions to sign. The head delegate should review all resolutions on the floor to make sure that it is appropriate that his country either offer or withhold support. This is important because the head delegate must make sure that all teammates are fulfilling policy objectives, and not sacrificing for the sake of a reward. The important thing to remember is not to get caught up in passing a resolution, and to concentrate on the role playing the aspects instead. Depending on your country, your appropriate role may that of the spoiler, who tries to slow things down, rather than help to get resolutions passed and decisions made.
However, this is not to say that the delegates should be the pawns of the head delegate. Each delegate should have decision making power, so that no one is requires to ask the head delegate permission to sign onto a resolution. The head delegate should allow the other delegates to have decision making power, but should check up on them in debriefing sessions. The team should gather periodically throughout the conference to share knowledge, prepare mentally, share committee experience, and reviews goals. The team members should learn from each other and engage in substantive discussion.