From the Head to the Heart

by Saul Klein, e-PRO, GRI

As a REALTOR® association executive, you’re not only responsible for constantly improving your leadership skills, but also for growing and cultivating your volunteer leaders’ skills. It’s your duty to instill in the mind of the novice volunteer the traits, characteristics, and examples of effective leadership, as well as what I refer to as the Three Core Principles of association management and leadership:

Associations have a perpetual life.
Associations have a continuum of leadership.
Associations have a continuum of membership.

These are the principles upon which your association was built, and which will enable it to thrive in the future. As the consistency and the glue—the true leader of your REALTOR® organization—consider it your duty to ensure that leadership is part of your organization’s DNA.

Repetition and visibility

I am a proponent of large, visible charts, graphs, and posters. After all, seeing something day in and day out will leave a lasting impression over time.

At the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, the walls of Luce Hall (the naval science building, where I attended my first formal training in leadership) were lined with plaques featuring famous naval sayings, such as: “Men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship;” “If the mast goes, we go with it, our post is here;” and “He who will not risk cannot win.” Through repetition, the intention was to move an idea “from the head to the heart.”

Some might call this “brainwashing.” I prefer to call it learning and conditioning. Whatever you call it, the result is an internalization of ideas, concepts, and philosophies. These ideas become part of one’s belief system when observed, considered, and weighed repeatedly over time (whether consciously or unconsciously).

I can attest to the lasting impression of repeated ideas and philosophies. Day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, they subtly become a part of the way you think—moving from your head to your heart.

What does this have to do with association leadership? Associations are best served by leaders who understand—feel, if you will—those cornerstones mentioned above.

Integrating leadership concepts into the association consciousness will help provide more consistent, member-benefiting decision-making for years, and decades, to come.

An environment of leadership

Strive to create an environment of leadership, keeping in mind that true leaders also make the best followers.
Consider prominently displaying posters with leadership philosophies in the lobby area and in the boardroom of your association. They will make a difference. Begin with such fundamental concepts as “recognition,” “jobs of a leader,” and “follow-through.” For example: Recognition: Commend in public. Reprimand in private.
Jobs of a leader: Perform your current job. Prepare for the next job. Train your successor.

Follow-through: Begin with the end in mind and work projects to completion. Of course, personalize the messages to best suit—and motivate—your association.

Make this year the year you cultivate a culture of leadership at your association. Now is the time to set in motion simple leadership projects that will pay huge dividends to your organization in the future. If not you, who? If not now, when?

Saul Klein is a 1972 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who spent four years in the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer.

Three Core Principles of Association Management and Leadership

Associations have a perpetual life

Not only must associations operate in a manner that serves their members today, they must at the same time be prepared to serve their members in the future. Associations that do not do both are in peril of becoming irrelevant, and possibly extinct. The consciousness of perpetual life will help guide your association into the future.

Associations have a continuum of leadership

Decision-making at associations should always be done in context. Your association is not where it is today, in the position it is today, based solely upon the actions of the current leadership. It has a history as a successful organization because of the work and dedication of those who preceded you.

Associations have a continuum of membership

Although it is well intentioned for a board of directors to want to give rebates to current members when there is
a revenue surplus in a particular year, any surplus exists because the association historically managed its financial affairs properly. Your membership is never static, it’s always in transition.

Saul Klein, e-PRO, GRI, is CEO of Point2 Technologies and created the NAR ePRO program and online communities AETalk and RealTalk. He can be reached at

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