Several years ago while visiting with friends in Ft. Worth, I was treated to an evening at gorgeous Bass Performance Hall. Patti Austin was the featured artist, singing some of her favorite Ella Fitzgerald tunes. The building, of course, is built for sound, and the notes from her powerful voice and the orchestra that accompanied her reverberated from the walls and lingered long after the music stopped. Most of us were humming those tunes (or something like them anyway) for the rest of the night. That experience reminds me of a great quote that I’ve heard attributed to Beethoven: “When the music stops and the notes fade away, the melody remains.”
The influence of a good leader is like that. I’ve been privileged to serve with some outstanding leaders in various volunteer organizations, at work and in my own family. Their words and their actions, the lessons they taught me, reverberate in my mind and continue to influence me years after the meetings and tasks have been completed.
The REALTOR® organization is fortunate to have a wealth of good leaders. As an AE, I have tremendous respect for those of you who volunteer to serve. You generously fit service to REALTORS® around your professional and home lives. You spend countless hours at the board table, feverishly fund raise for RPAC, conference call and web conference, send emails in the wee hours of the morning, travel to DC and your state capitol to lobby your elected officials — all these tasks and many more designed to ensure a bright future for this organization and this industry. Collectively these actions create a melody that lingers, its notes echoing long after the work is done.
If you aspire to be one of these inspirational REALTOR® leaders or if you’re serving in leadership already and you’re looking to expand your sphere of influence, we have a program for you! NAR’s Leadership Academy is accepting applications now through March 31, 2013. Click on this link to check it out: http://www.realtor.org/programs/leadership-academy. You’ll learn new skills, be impacted by lessons in leadership, make some life-long friends and create your own leadership melody in the process. I hope that you’ll consider applying!
I remember being in a meeting with a great leader that had to make a tough decision on a somewhat divisive issue. I felt for her as I knew that no matter what decision she made, there were going to be some people who were happy with her decision and some people who were not. What impressed me is that she was able to quickly gain clarity on what she ultimately felt was “the right thing to do”. You could tell that it was difficult for her, but ultimately she set aside her personal feelings and inclinations and made the decision that she felt was most beneficial and reflective of the overall organization. That is not always the easy thing to do, but in my opinion it demonstrated great strength of character to be able to act on what you feel is right, even when it is difficult.
This situation gave me pause to think about what really makes a great leader. Here are a few qualities and attributes that I think makes a great leader.
Great leaders are Courageous. This does not mean that they are not afraid, or intimidated by a situation from time to time, but great leaders find a way to summon the courage to move forward when others would shrink away from the challenge. It takes courage to push into the unknown, go against the grain or speak out when you aren’t sure if your opinion will be popular. It has been said that courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to go forward in the presence of fear.
Great leaders have Vision. I believe that a great leader knows the “why” behind the “what” that they are doing. They also have the ability to help other people catch the vision of the “why” so they can accomplish the “what”. That’s a lot of “why’s” and “what’s”! I’ve always been inspired when I’m around people who have conviction and clarity in purpose. When the cause is just and you have a leader who can share the vision of the cause, special things happen.
Great leaders have empathy. Have you ever been around someone who genuinely understands your plight and is willing to admit that they understand how you feel? I immediately connect with those kinds of people and want to help them because they were willing to help and relate to me. They don’t think themselves as better or above those that they lead. In fact, most of the time they are anxious to get into the trenches, roll up their sleeves and get to work right alongside of those that they lead. Leaders who have empathy earn the hearts and trust of those around them.
Great leaders care. We’ve all been around someone who we know really cares about us. No ulterior motives, not quid pro quo, just care about you because you are you. They see the good in people and strive to bring out the best in others. They can be trusted and are unwavering to their commitment to a person or cause. They accomplish great things because those around them can feel how much they care.
Great leaders know when it’s time to lead. Many times a great leader is also a great role player and follower, but when it’s time to lead, the best leaders step up and take an active role. They don’t stand on the sidelines waiting for someone else to do something. They recognize the moment, mobilize and take action. They aren’t worried about failure or ask themselves, “what if this doesn’t work out the way I want it to”. They just know it’s time to step up and have the self confidence that they can do the job that is front of them. They have a “make it happen” kind of attitude and courage to take on challenges no matter how big. Great leaders take control of their destiny and don’t leave it in the hands of fate. Great leaders rise up and lead when it’s time to lead.
Do you think you are or could become a great leader? If so, apply to the NAR Leadership Academy to hone your current skills and to develop new talents. You will gain insights and experiences that will enhance every facet of your life. All organizations need great leaders. NAR is no different and NAR needs you! Application deadline is March 31st. REALTOR.org/LeadershipAcademy
When I’m asked about what person inspired my passion for serving as a Realtor® volunteer , my father comes to mind. He was NAR President in 1991, and over the years I watched him run a large real estate company while still being a positive and passionate leader. And, an event played a role. Years back, I interviewed for a leadership position at a professional organization in my market. In fact, I interviewed at the same organization five times, and each time another candidate was selected.
It would have been very easy to say, “The heck with it,” and just give up. But I’ve learned to never give up if I’m passionate about a program or cause. If there’s not an opportunity in one place, there might be one someplace else. I went to another, smaller organization and was offered a leadership position on my first attempt. The lesson to share is that I kept my passion for leadership, which has resulted in a national position as Vice President on the 2013 Realtor® Leadership Team and my long commitment to the NAR Leadership Academy. And, I was just elected as Secretary/Treasurer of the Texas Association of Realtors®.
In our industry, there are many opportunities to make a difference as a Realtor ® based on your passion and expertise. The key is to identify where you can serve the membership the most. Through my involvement with the Academy, I’ve always maintained it’s important to mentor and groom future leaders – to engage them and let them find their passion
My biggest mentor and supporter has always been my husband. He’s a farm and ranch broker in our home state of Texas, and he’s been a leader in his very specialized segment of the industry for the past 35 years. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his support. And, I should call out two outstanding Realtors® — Dick Gaylord, for giving me the guidance that led to my role with the Leadership Academy, and Charles McMillan, who gave me opportunities to excel on a national level.
The Leadership Academy has, of course, been a big part of my life since its inception. I’ve had the honor of being associated with every class, and I’ve worked with just about everyone. That’s how I got my nickname of “The Godmother.” And, I’ll remain committed to help our future leaders find their way through the Academy. Applications for the 2014 class are due March 31, and we encourage all Realtors® who are interested to apply.
Education is critical to nurturing Realtors®, and I’m beyond honored to be a member of the Board of Regents and part of the development team working on Realtor® University, especially its Master of Real Estate program, which is a true master’s degree. When I was chair of the NAR Professional Development Committee, a Presidential Advisory Group was formed to study professional development, our image and raising the bar. The result was Realtor® University, and I’m proud to say that our idea is off to a rousing start and celebrated its one-year anniversary February 27.
If you’re not familiar with Realtor® University, there are five areas of concentration, and new sessions are offered every eight weeks. Learn more by visiting Realtor U calling 855-786-6546. So far, we’ve had participation from Realtors® in 26 states and Canada, and have students that range in age from 25 to 70 years of age – which is a good indication that you’re never too old to learn!