Become an Inspiring Leader

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about leadership, perhaps because I was so motivated by one of the best-ever Association Executives Institutes, held this year in Denver. (A huge congratulations and thank you again to 2017’s AEI Chair Laura Crowthers and the entire 2017 AEI Advisory Board.)

Perhaps leadership is on my mind because 2017 is the “farewell tour” of Dale Stinton, NAR’s longtime CEO, who will retire this year after 36 years with our organization. Dale leaves in his wake a seemingly endless list of managerial innovations, but most important is that he embodies the qualities of pure leadership. It’s hard to define or quantify leadership, but when you see it, you know it—and that’s Dale.

It is a good time for all AEs to take inventory of our own leadership qualities, identify what we consider important leadership skills, and reflect on what we need to improve. This introspection will come not from any performance review or strategic planning session but from you alone.

There are many definitions of leadership; most involve the ability to establish a clear vision and then inform and motivate others in pursuit of that vision. Leadership is not easily attained or maintained.

As REALTOR® AEs, our role also means sharing leadership. Clearly identifying the separate but intertwined roles and responsibilities between us and the REALTOR® leaders of our associations is critical. Leading while being led is also not easily attained or maintained.

So what’s my point? The one commodity we all lack is time. But being an effective leader of your staff and organization requires more “think time” than most of us probably allot for ourselves. Think time is the time to take inventory of your skills, reflect on the qualities of leadership you have or lack, and identify ways to develop the knowledge and skills you need.

So where can you find help to improve your leadership skills? Just look around the room next time you’re at an AE meeting. Or reach out to those colleagues who have accomplished goals to which you aspire. Our greatest resource is one another.

The part of leadership I find most fascinating is the element of inspiring others. Inspiration includes elements of vision, motivation, encouragement, and inventiveness. I was truly inspired by many presentations at AEI and I’m continually inspired by Dale anytime I’m around him. But I was also inspired by all of you in the hundreds of conversations I had in Denver. I’ve always learned more from my AE colleagues than I ever imparted. The mentors you seek are likely hiding in plain sight.

Becoming a better leader should be a personal goal and an organizational goal, as well. The benefits of becoming a more effective leader will accrue not only to you but also to your association. You have the title Association Executive. Now make the most of it!

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