“Leadership is not magnetic personality, that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people,’ that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” — Peter F. Drucker
8 essentials of association strategic planning
1. Invite a diverse group of planners. Assemble a strategic-planning group that is representative of your membership, not your leadership.
2. Focus on the future you want, not the problems you have. Once you’ve conjured up an image of the most desirable future, consider what your actual future will look like if you continue on your current path. Then determine what needs to change to produce the more favorable outcome.
3. Narrow your agenda. A long agenda leaves participants frustrated. Before meeting, develop a realistic agenda. Then cut 30 percent so participants have time to develop and explore new ideas.
4. Take a look beyond real estate. Expand your discussion to include the greater demographic, technological, and social trends that have the power to impact real estate.
5. Consider multiple futures. Brainstorm several possible future scenarios (housing market goes up, housing market goes down, commissions fall, etc.) to ensure that your strategic planning addresses the expected and the unexpected.
6. Come prepared with all relevant data. Before the off-site session, determine what information will be key to helping your planners make decisions. Arrange for briefings using audio, video, discussion forums, or PowerPoints.
7. Conduct a strategic plan reality check. Do any of your strategic goals conflict with one another? Are any of your strategic goals seriously constrained by insufficient budget, staff, or skills.
8. Once you have a strategic plan, spread the word. Present all staff, volunteers, and leaders have a copy of the plan along with a brief on how the plan translates in a day-to-day work environment.
Adapted from “Ten Cardinal Sins of Strategic Planning” by Tom Devane. Executive Excellence, vol. 17, issue 10.
6 reasons to be politically active
1. Increased ability to defeat legislation and regulation that could harm members’ businesses and the interests of homeowners.
2. Increased community awareness that Realtors® fight for homeowners’ rights.
3. Increased political clout and status in the community.
4. Increased ability to attract new members with positive PR.
5. Increased ability to boost revenue through the sale of ads or sponsorships to companies that share your political agenda.
6. Increased positive public perception regarding the credibility of Realtors®.
Top ways to build a positive image
Offer your expertise. Let your members know you’re willing to help them solve business or technology problems.
Solicit feedback. Show members you value their input by asking them to fill out convenient and frequent surveys.
Build online communities. Foster feelings of community for members by hosting a real estate issue chat room, blogs, or message board online.
Have fun. Although the popularity of golf tournaments is declining, you still can find ways to show members the association’s fun side with games and entertainment at meetings.
Visit offices. AEs who frequently visit member offices say it’s an important information-gathering technique and generates invaluable goodwill.
Personalize. Eliminate one-size-fits-all service by offering communications and programs targeted at members’ diverse needs, such as rookie newsletters or technology classes for the over-50 crowd.
Rally for a cause. Unite members behind a charity or cause with fundraising or an event. You’ll build not only a house but also morale and camaraderie.
3 changes on the horizon Bob Hamilton, rce, CEO, Georgia Association of Realtors®
1. There’ll be a growing demand and higher compensation for educated and experienced professional association executives.
2. Teams of agents will continue to increase in number and size and create challenges for brokers, regulators, and association executives.
3. The Realtor® organization will find new ways to reach out to an ever-increasing number of minority licensees.
8 ways to have better board meetings
1. Know your agenda. Have a carefully planned and detailed agenda. Make sure the president or chair is fully briefed on all agenda items, including who will be making presentations and reports. Most important, keep the meeting focused on the business at hand.
2. The president runs the show. The staff’s role in meeting management takes place well in advance of the actual board meeting. Their job is to make sure the recommendations and information emanating from committees, work groups, etc. is properly prepared and complete. Once the meeting starts, the president is in charge. If the staff has done its job right, the president is fully prepared and should have no problem running the meeting.
3. Don’t waste directors’ time. If associations are going to attract the “best and brightest,” AEs must use volunteers’ time efficiently. Board meetings should average less than two hours. Advocate for the liberal use of the consent agenda and for providing information to the directors in advance. Allocate time for each item and print those times on the agenda itself.
4. Incorporate technology into your meeting structure. Use e-mail and the Internet to transmit meeting notices, post exhibits, etc. Conduct some meetings via e-mail by noticing the directors of an item to be considered, giving them time to review the information posted on your Web site before submitting a vote. This is successful when an issue calls for a basic “yes” or “no” vote, rather than a lengthy debate.
5. Encourage leaders to lead, not micromanage. As leaders, directors set the association’s vision, direction, and policies. They should concentrate on the “big picture” and leave the details to the appropriate committee or staff. A true leader relishes the ability to hand over the reins.
6. Establish a shared vision. The president and the AE should come to terms regarding the most important challenges and opportunities that will require the board’s attention during the year. Document those challenges and opportunities in a brief memo and share them with the full board, detailing their role. Committing those ideas to paper helps define a strategic agenda and ensures agreement between the board and the CEO about what issues matter most and deserve the attention of the board and the executive team.
7. Nip bickering in the bud. If you sense problems among members of your board, change your seating arrangements. Use tent cards and put the bickering directors on the same side of the table so it’s difficult for them to see each other, then put two or three people between them. If necessary, the president or chair must take control of a meeting to stop the bickering. If that doesn’t work, call for a recess and address each of the bickerers privately about the need to stay professional and on task.
8. Know what you’re doing. A competent and well-functioning board requires a competent and well-functioning AE. It’s imperative that AEs continuously learn how to become more effective leaders. They must know how to teach others, listen more than they talk, take on a servant leadership role, negotiate, embrace cultural diversity, and be able to maximize available resources (e.g. time, money, materials, space, volunteers, staff, etc.).
Source: James A. Link, EVP, Southland Regional Association of Realtors® and Yvonne Beer-Reedy, rce, ltg, EVP, of the McHenry County Association of Realtors®, Ill.
6 reasons your association’s directors micromanage
1. They have no clear sense of their role in the organization.
2. There are no policies to delineate appropriate board roles.
3. Management of day-to-day work is what they know from their day jobs.
4. They often have been invited onto the board to perform a task, not to lead.
5. Remnants of a crisis still haunt the organization.
6. They sometimes fear that if they don’t take charge of operations, no one else will.
Adapted from Board Recruitment and Orientation: A Step-By-Step, Common-Sense Guide (2001, Renaissance Press).
7 steps to a stellar leadership program
1. Identify what you want to accomplish. For instance, are you trying to cultivate a mix of leaders that more closely reflects the ethnic diversity of your membership? Are you anticipating particular challenges for which you’ll need leaders who are well versed
in specific disciplines? Are you trying to attract young volunteers who will commit themselves to the association for the long haul?
2. Decide how you’ll choose program participants. Do you want to handpick candidates, or do you want to take a cattle-call approach, inviting anyone interested in leadership training to sign on? Do you plan to train a large group to see which individuals shine through, or do you want to focus your efforts on the most likely candidates?
3. Create a budget. Will the program be free to participants, or will you charge a fee? Estimate the costs of training materials, speakers, mailings, event locations, etc.
4. Increase the odds that graduates will contribute to the association. Don’t train leaders and then wait three years before giving them a leadership position. Plug them into the organization as quickly as possible so they can test-drive their new skills.
5. Scope out future leaders all year at conventions, meetings, and other events. To identify potential leaders, collect business cards throughout the year from members you meet who exhibit the kind of thinking and leadership qualities you value. When it’s time to recommend candidates, you’ll have a roster of competent nominees from which to choose. Ask current leaders for input on potential leaders, and keep in touch with program grads. This ongoing communication will strengthen participants’ commitment to the program and pique the interest of future candidates.
6. Be creative about your leadership training program. Don’t bore your participants to tears with hours of tedious lectures. Instead, creatively structure your sessions. For instance, to test knowledge and be sure that participants absorb the curriculum, consider using an interactive game show format (think along the lines of Jeopardy! or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire). Mississippi uses a Jeopardy!-style game and the Illinois association’s program includes role-playing games and team-building scavenger hunts to keep participants attentive and enthused. Be sure you impart some very basic, practical skills. Talking philosophy is fine, but be sure your treasurer and committee chair walk away from training with a keen understanding of precisely what their roles are, what their tasks are, and how they are to perform their duties.
11 attributes of a great leader
1. Has vision. The ability to define, communicate, and inspire a practical, relevant, and easily adaptable vision is critical. Leaders must be able to think about the future and consider how they will propel, guide, and adapt their organization in the face of uncertainty.
2. Is a skilled communicator. The ability to communicate succinctly, consistently, and optimistically with anyone—regardless of the nature of the messages or the person’s position—is a fundamental attribute of good leadership. It is vital to encourage constructive feedback and healthy debate. Listening actively (not merely hearing) and being accessible are essential.
3. Delivers on promises. Nothing erodes confidence faster than a series of broken promises. Since we participate in a “show me” world, the ability to consistently “walk the talk” and to deliver upon commitments is vital in a true leader.
4. Is responsible. No one likes finger-pointing or the blame game. Effective leaders take responsibility for decisions they have made or helped make, regardless of the success or failure.
5. Is humble. Followers disdain arrogance and brashness, since they are often associated with self-serving egotism and they revere modesty, humility, and constraint.
6. Is trustworthy. Trusted leaders select people to work for them because they are intelligent, perceptive, and empowered. Trusted leaders tend to inspire others to share their burden (and those of the business they are supporting) in tough times.
7. Is capable. Leaders continually demonstrate shrewd thinking, resourcefulness, and an apparently limitless capacity to handle whatever situation arises. They delegate with conviction and are passionate about teaching and mentoring—not training—their followers.
8. Is a mentor. In a successful mentoring relationship, there is an expectation for mutual learning—the apprentice from the leader and vice versa. Most important, a successful mentoring methodology assists in problem solving, not by becoming the solution provider, but by coaching independence of thought.
9. Is decisive. Even when timely decisions are intelligent and unwavering, sometimes the outcome is unfavorable. This is accepted—almost expected—by followers. More important than the end result is the decision making process.
10. Is authentic. There is typically a significant correlation between leaders’ core behaviors, beliefs, and principles and what they expect from their followers. An effective leader has integrity, great ethics, and no hidden agendas or questionable intent.
11. Is genuine and respectful. Leaders naturally garnish respect primarily for who they are, rather than for what they know. They are evenhanded in their dealings with others and relate to and validate them regardless of domain, tenure, seniority, or context.
Source; Kevin Grauman, co-founder and CEO, Outsource Group.
Five ways to draw in the under-30 crowd
1. Mentoring programs. Make some industry veterans available to serve as sounding boards for younger practitioners who are moving up in the ranks. “There are plenty
of long-term pros who are sympathetic to beginners, who have no hostility, and who are excited to teach novices willing to learn,” observes Gayle Carson, who has researched Generation X for her company, Carson Research Center, Miami. “Gen Xers don’t want preaching, however; they want passion,” she cautions.
2. High-tech training. Even though the under-30 crowd may constitute only a fraction of your membership right now, they’re the future of your organization. Keep up on the latest technological developments (hardware and software) and bring in experts to conduct education programs targeted directly at the needs of these tech-savvy members.
3. Targeted messages. Communicate succinct and pertinent messages via e-mail. “The old-school associations have a tendency to mail out three-page documents,” observes Claire E. Shahzad, director of Realtor® services, MetroTex Association of Realtors®. “Those get thrown in the trash. Younger practitioners want to read something quickly in spoon-size, understandable bites via e-mail. And make sure the information relates to their business,” she adds.
4. Embrace ambition. Recognize talent and use it whenever it arrives. In Shahzad’s experience, the younger generation doesn’t have the patience to spend years moving up the traditional ranks. “If you have members who are smart and talented and ready to move up fast, then move them in fast. Invite them to be a director or chair a task force. Test them out for a year and give them support,” she recommends.
5. Under-30 networking. Consider starting a networking group targeted at young practitioners. Younger Realtors® told RAE that it would be useful to have a group of colleagues close in age for support, swapping ideas, and commiseration in the early days.
3 things I’ve learned Claire Shahzad, rce, director of Realtor® services, MetroTex Association of Realtors®, Dallas, Texas
1. If you want members to follow your lead, make sure you have the advanced knowledge and skills of a leader.
2. I have never met anyone I couldn’t learn something from.
3. It’s great to be loved by your members, but it is better to be respected.
Four ways to run a successful association Claire Shahzad, rce, director of Realtor® services, MetroTex Association of Realtors®, Dallas, Texas
1. Never forget that the association’s priority is to serve the membership as a whole.
2. Never take yourself too seriously. Keep the fun in your organization.
3. Place association staff in a partnership with members; members set the direction and staff implement it.
4. Never assume you’re smarter than your members.
3 things I’ve learned Bill Martin, rce, CEO, Michigan Association of Realtors®
1. Realtor® association executives need to fully understand and appreciate the ability of the three-way agreement among local, state, and national associations to make each segment stronger. And when we each are stronger, the member always benefits.
2. Be bold and decisive, but know when to let go. When putting your management team in place, trust them to perform their duties. Micromanaging doesn’t allow them to grow and, besides, if you’re going to do that, you might as well just fire them and do the job yourself—saves everyone the frustration and money.
3. It’s imperative to be a part of your association’s success in reaching new goals for RPAC. Members take their cue from you, so if you are not participating, why should they? And, if you participate a little, so will they. Really commit yourself to RPAC; strong advocacy can make a difference in policy decisions that affect your members.
11-step association partnership plan
1. Choose partners whose strengths complement yours. Look for enough compatibility to challenge and stimulate one another over time. Associations must be tolerant
of different cultural norms, idiosyncrasies, and time perspectives. Above all else, they must have a mutual sense of trust.
2. Identify emerging needs in the internal or external marketplace. Then, determine who your potential collaborators are and what potential exists for possible collaboration.
3. Get buy-in up front. Get the buy-in of staff, directors, and members before entering the partnership. Educate them about expenditures of time, money, energy, and other resources needed for a successful collaboration.
4. Determine the type of partnership you seek to create. Will it be equal, an associate relationship, or somewhere in between? Key factors to consider include the level of financial risk, availability of time and energy for the project, and prior existence of intellectual property tied to the project.
5. Create mutual goals. After choosing partners, establish a set of ideas, goals, and philosophies for the alliance.
6. Educate all parties about the knowledge, skills, and abilities each brings to the table. This will help you divvy up responsibilities.
7. Determine roles. Outline the knowledge, skills, and abilities each partner brings to the table. This will help you divvy up responsibilities. Make sure roles are clearly defined and documented.
8. Specify results. Desired results must be concrete, attainable, and measurable. The more specific the desired results, the better you’ll be able to gauge the collaboration’s progress. Those results will remind you to stop, look around, determine whether you’re succeeding, then decide whether you should continue on, correct your course, or terminate the project.
9. Establish communication links. List the key people in each organization who are to receive communications or help make decisions. Then outline who’ll receive specific communications, when they’ll receive them, who’ll be asked for feedback, and how you’ll obtain their feedback.
10. Expect conflict. Conflict is inevitable and actually highly desirable. Collaborations must form a new culture distinct from that of each individual collaborating organization. Conflicts arise as you create the new culture. By not allowing conflict, you limit your ability to change.
11. Set a minimum “no exit” time period. New ventures take time to be planted, watered, and nourished; weeded; and ultimately harvested. Make sure that all partners agree
to stay committed for a specified period of time.
12. Provide recognition and visibility. Our members want to know we’re doing all we can to stretch the dues dollars they invest in us. What better way to add value than by keeping them informed about our collaborative efforts.
Source: Collaboration Handbook: Creating, Sustaining, and Enjoying the Journey, by Michael Winer & Karen Ray.
14 ways to mine your membership for leaders
1. Identify leadership qualities you consider important to your organization, as well as state and national organizations. For instance: takes risks, knows how to build consensus, has a deep understanding of all aspects of the business, and demonstrates exceptional communication skills.
2. Look for prospective leaders wherever you go—at meetings, in educational sessions, and even at parties.
3. Extend personal invitations to participate on particular committees or task forces.
4. Don’t rule out candidates for a higher office just because they haven’t climbed all the rungs of the ladder. Martin Edwards, NAR past president, for instance, never served as president of his state association in Tennessee. If you spot talent, figure out how you can use it.
5. Pinpoint the strengths of your leaders and place them in situations where they can shine. If your leader is an outstanding public speaker, for example, arrange frequent speaking engagements.
6. Encourage all levels of leaders. Even if your leaders will never rise to the state or national level, keep reminding them that the important decisions they’re making affect the group’s future.
7. Reveal leaders’ hidden talents. Observe volunteers carefully to figure out their passions and identify their skills. Then reveal your findings to them. They may be interested to learn about talents they didn’t even know they had.
8. Cast a wide net. Don’t look exclusively for volunteers in the biggest or hottest companies. Great committee chairs and future presidents often emerge from smaller or lesser-known companies.
9. Solicit past presidents for input and insight into identifying future leaders. They have an intimate appreciation for what it takes to fulfill the role.
10. Solicit big companies for help. Consider asking large-member real estate companies to require service on an association committee as a prerequisite to earning recognition at the company.
11. Encourage minority and ethnic member participation in leadership by extending a personal invitation.
12. Encourage members to become community leaders outside the Realtor® association—such as the city council, chamber of commerce, or a nongovernmental organization—to enhance leadership skills and improve the Realtor® image.
13. Guarantee that volunteer leaders will have a say on issues in which they have a vested interest.
14. Retain past leaders by recycling them into the leadership structure when their term is up.
10 surefire ways to get Realtors® to give to RPAC
1. Ask. After you’ve made a contribution yourself, ask your volunteer leaders, officers, directors, staff, committee chairs, vice chairs, task force chairs, and members to contribute as well. Ask at every committee meeting, luncheon, and education course. Ask in every publication and in every e-mail and regular mail. Ask, and RPAC contributions will flow in.
2. Add pressure to close the sale. Coax reluctant or procrastinating contributors by providing updated lists—each time you meet—of all members in each committee who have contributed. Those not yet on the list will almost always use the contributor card in their meeting packet to contribute that day.
3. Add it up. Don’t allow RPAC to be the last agenda item at meetings. Midway through the agenda, pause to collect contributor cards. Move on, but count the amount. End the meeting by asking for the additional $80 or $170 or $600 needed to reach an RPAC goal or record.
4. Influence new members early. Tell new members that contributing to RPAC is voluntary, but “expected.” Without a serious RPAC component in your new member orientation, you’re behind already. Give new members the list of issues championed and legislative and regulatory initiatives passed or defeated.
5. Show me the money. Write a five-minute skit featuring a Realtor® and any one of the following: mayor, city council member, legislator, or commission member. Act 1: Realtor® need expressed. Realtor® told, “No way!” Act 2: RPAC check contribution to candidate “Mr. I.C. Clearly.” Act 3: Realtor® need expressed. Realtor® told, “We will seriously consider that.” Closing Act: Stop the program, walk table to table, and collect contributions before continuing.
6. Thank. Recognize. Applaud. Publish. Make giving to RPAC a big deal! Present pins, certificates, plaques, and other special means of appreciation at monthly and annual meetings. Call names and ask contributors to stand up. Publish the latest list as soon as possible, online and in print.
7. Promote the results. At every Realtor® meeting, recap what RPAC has achieved, passed, killed, amended, removed, and introduced. Discuss local, state, and federal issues.
8. Save the best for last (but don’t dare tell anyone). Plan an RPAC auction. Promote it well, collect good items, and ask an auctioneer member to conduct your auction. Since there always will be members who didn’t get to buy something at the end of any auction, save a final, big surprise auction item. Encourage members to combine their funds and bid. Get creative. You could auction off something like making a member shave the beard he’s had for 15 years or a dinner for 20 featuring a celebrity guest of honor. A final group combined bid adds excitement, fun, and lots more money for RPAC.
9. Pledge ‘n’ pay. Collect $250 pledges to be paid throughout the year for a chance to win a diamond ring or set of golf clubs. Make it easy to give. Offer donors your pay plan—contributions can be paid monthly or quarterly, either by credit card or bank draft.
10. Dues bill. Don’t say, “it can’t be done here” unless state law prohibits it. Include the voluntary RPAC contribution among the itemized charges in the total dues. Consider increasing your “fair share” if you already do dues billing. Ask and Realtors® will contribute when you do.
Access detailed guides and sample documents for these 10 fundraising tips and much more on the RPAC Web pages online at http://www.nar.realtor/RPAC.
Source: J. Danny Cooper, EVP, Alabama Association of Realtors®
10 tips for selling change
You have great ideas for your association—new services, high-tech solutions, and sweeping reorganization plans. But how do you get staff and stakeholders to buy into your vision and support you along the way? Here are
10 strategies for implementing changes effectively.
1. Act quickly. Communicate impending changes as soon as possible. That way, the rumor mill won’t have a chance to grind out stories that aren’t true.
2. Explain the decision. Tell stakeholders why the change is important and how it affects them positively. For example, will it enable them to do their work better or faster? If you disguise or distort the reasons for change, stakeholders will be even more disgruntled when they learn the truth.
3. Suggest change as a trial. State the problems created by the old method, then say, “Let’s try this and see how it works.”
4. Be careful of status. Every organization has status symbols that are zealously sought and jealously guarded. Don’t let change build one person’s or program’s status at the expense of another’s.
5. Personalize the change. Take the time to explain changes to individuals. Make sure each person knows how the change will affect his or her role. If some employees or volunteers must learn new skills or fill new jobs, let them know they’ve been selected to help the association because of their special abilities.
6. Solicit group input. Whenever possible, invite stakeholders to participate. For example, have them test out equipment you’re considering purchasing and, if feasible, let them vote for their preference. Whatever you do, don’t try to use participation as a device to make an arbitrary change acceptable.
7. Make no small changes. Save your energy for important changes. It might be more convenient to have a file cabinet moved four feet to the left, but if it causes a fight, why bother?
8. Don’t overdo it. Don’t unsettle your people by springing a batch of changes, one after the other. Try to space them out or weld them all into one major reorganization.
9. Be patient. Don’t expect new procedures, ideas, or equipment to be an instant success. It takes time for people to adjust to change and get back to peak performance.
10. Watch for red flags. Lookout for hardcore resistance. When you face opposition, don’t try to bulldoze the change through; work to eliminate the cause of fears or reservations.
14 standards of conduct for Realtor® associations
1. Maintain the highest standards of personal conduct.
2. Actively promote and encourage the highest degree of ethics at all levels within the real estate industry.
3. Maintain loyalty to the Realtor® association, and pursue its objectives in ways that are consistent with member and public interest.
4. Abide by association policies, procedures, and laws impacting Realtor® associations.
5. Strive for excellence in all aspects of leading and managing the association.
6. Serve all association members fairly and impartially.
7. Refuse to engage in a decision-making capacity or to accept personal benefit from business-related activities that might create a conflict of interest without full disclosure and knowledge of the association’s governing board.
8. Maintain confidentiality of privileged information entrusted or known by virtue of an office or position, unless disclosure is necessary to protect the association’s interests.
9. Refuse to engage in or countenance activities for personal gain at the expense of the association or the real estate industry.
10. Refuse to engage in or countenance unlawful discrimination.
11. Ensure that communicated data and information are accurate and truthful.
12. Cooperate in every reasonable and appropriate way with other association executives and officers, and work with them to advance the association and the real estate industry.
13. Create and promote a positive public image and role for the Realtor® association and the real estate industry.Ensure that the objective of all association actions and pursuits is to provide the best possible services for the Realtor® member.
3 ways to run a successful association Irene Vogel, CEO, Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors®
1. Remain responsive to the members’ changing needs and the profession’s expectations. Evaluate the effectiveness and relevance of your programs, products, and services so you can keep up with those changing needs.
2. Share information openly and often. Recognize that we, as Realtors®, have a direct and significant impact on those who live and work in our community.
3. Appreciate your staff and leadership.
3 lessons I’ve learned as an AE Irene Vogel, CEO, Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors®
1. The AE needs to adjust to the leadership, not the other way around.
2. Your best friends are your leadership—they are volunteers possessing unique skills, talents, and expertise that can contribute to your success.
3. Walk the talk—don’t expect support and productivity if you don't set the example.