By J Russell “Russ” Boyce
It’s time to process all the information presented. How did we get to this leadership position? What motivates us to stay? Most importantly, what motivates the people we will be looking to for support in our presidential year?
2014 President Steve Brown kicked off the Leadership Summit with Maestro Roger Nierenberg conducting a full orchestra, who were seated in the middle of the audience. We all sat there, a little puzzled at the concept at first, but completely absorbed and curious about what was to happen. I remember using the metaphor of orchestra leader in a conversation I once had about my role in renovating houses, though I never really thought about it other than as a quasi job description. But within minutes of the Maestro’s message and analogy it became crystal clear. If we are to be successful leaders we must know how to conduct our state and local “orchestras.”
We saw how intertwined each member of the orchestra is with every other, and with the conductor. We saw that when everyone is in sync the flow and outcome of their production is good. If the conductor sends the wrong message, or sends no message, the orchestra flounders. If musicians don’t take their cues, the orchestra is out of sync. And when they communicate, they make beautiful music.
We’re standing at the podium, as leaders. How do we communicate so that together we make beautiful music? We saw in later presentations that it begins with our relationship with our Association Executive. Understanding our strengths and weaknesses and being honest about it with our AE will be critical in our success as presidents. Being ourselves and not being led by our egos can be the challenge. Being honest about our strengths and weaknesses so our AE has the opportunity to fill in where needed is key. Steve reinforced these messages as he urged us as leaders to “know thyself.”
The only true way for the orchestra to produce beautiful results is for each area of the orchestra to trust the Maestro. As leaders it is our responsibility to understand, to the best of our ability, what each area in our orchestras needs from us, and what we expect from each of them. We must try to understand the uniqueness of each part of our orchestra. No two areas will ever likely be the same.
I learned the importance of establishing the way you wish to be communicated with. I learned that everyone in the orchestra must know what that is, and I must know how they want to communicate.
How can we raise our awareness, even by one degree, and be the best Leaders we can be? Always encourage, and at every opportunity empower everyone we come into contact with. If we can focus on the good in everyone and every situation, we will indeed get the same in return. If we lead by example and set the tone that we want everyone to succeed … our presidential year will be one of the most rewarding parts of our careers. As Steve noted, through the words of Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said and people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”
Russ is a 2012 graduate of the NAR Leadership Academy and President-Elect of the Maryland Association of REALTORS®.
My Grandfather was a wonderful story teller. Growing up I remember him teaching me many things by sharing stories which usually included a principle about life. One of my favorites was the story of the dipper and the bucket.
All of us have a bucket and all of us have a dipper. When things are good our buckets are full. When our buckets are full we feel happy, content and are generally pleasant. All is right with the world.
But when our buckets are empty, we are sad, discouraged and not all that much fun to be around. The world around us seems tough, even cruel and we have a hard time seeing the positive in anything.
We also all have a dipper. We can use that dipper in two ways. One way is to pour into a bucket and one way is to take out of a bucket. Here are a couple of examples:
I recently received a hand written note from an agent in my office thanking me for something that I’d helped them out with. It was a small gesture, but that little note really meant a lot to me. They used their dipper to fill up my bucket!
Unfortunately, the opposite can also be true. Sometimes we use our dippers to take from others’ buckets. It can happen in a variety of ways. Some are subtle and some are blatant, but all leave ones bucket a little emptier than it was. I remember a time when our office had a particularly productive month. I wanted to say thanks to our team so I decided to cater a hot breakfast for our meeting. Normally, if there were bagels or doughnuts at a meeting that would be a real surprise, so I thought a full breakfast would be a really big deal! It was nicely done with a big spread of wonderful food as a surprise to reward a hard working team. Most were excited and expressed their gratitude to me for doing this. I was feeling really good and thought I’d really done something nice. And then one of my agents walked up to me and said, “Why would you have this restaurant cater breakfast? Their food is always terrible”, and then she walked away.
She got her dipper in my bucket that day!
One of the great things about leadership is that you frequently have the opportunity to put the principle of the dipper and the bucket into practical application. Great leaders are careful about the way they use their dippers. To me, the best leaders are bucket fillers and are always using their dippers to fill up someone’s bucket. The interesting thing about filling someone’s bucket is that your bucket usually is filled as well. What a great reward! As a leader, it is important to seek out opportunities to fill buckets and in turn, you will see your bucket filled.
Realtors® all take the role as a leader at some point. Whether it is to your clients, in your office, or in your association, we all have the chance to lead by being a bucket filler. You don’t need a title, position, or to win an election to do it. All you need is the desire to fill another’s bucket and the rest will take care of itself.
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!
Sometimes we can learn lessons about how to be better Realtors®, better business people and better citizens from unexpected sources. Here are two examples I’d like to share: One originated from a question posed to the 2012 Realtor® Leadership Academy class, the other came from a request made to me.
In both cases, generational gaps were bridged, challenges faced and overcome, and I gained greater insight on leadership.
Game Designed to Bridge Generation Gap Between REALTORS®
One objective we have with each Academy class is to keep raising the bar. The board is always on the lookout to identify areas for professional development. I noticed that when the talk turned to volunteer leadership I kept hearing about the differences between the generations – how there’s a lack of personal interaction by the younger generation today because of reliance on technology, and how REALTORS® of my generation maintain that business isn’t conducted the same way anymore.
The Academy is a great place to try new ideas, with talent from around the world it’s a think tank. We posed a challenge to the class asking them to explore the generation gap among REALTORS® and come up with solutions. The 2012 class took to the project with great enthusiasm and collaborated across international time zones to develop the final product. The result was a board game that was later retooled into a role-playing card game called “Mind the Gap.”
Players act out real life scenarios that lead to conversations around generational differences. The end result is a greater understanding of the other’s behavior; truly a solution to bridging the generation gap.
NAR leadership experienced a session of the game and immediately approved funding for production. The game is now in the REALTOR® store. It’s a great icebreaker, and can be used in a business office or at an association.
I’d like to see the game incorporated into more board leadership retreats as a tool to help REALTORS® better understand each other. After all, we have the same brand behind our names, we subscribe to the same Code of Ethics and play in the same sandbox.
Young Legislator Inspires, Demonstrates Can-Do Leadership Skills
After my year as Academy chair, I was approached by a then 31-year-old prosecutor from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, who asked for my support against a 40-year incumbent in the race for the U.S. Congressional seat. I thought, “There’s no way he could win.”
The young prosecutor was very positive, and tenacious. He worked hard, is ethical and I could see that he was in it for the long haul. He showed the type of leadership skills we talk about in the Academy. My intuition told me this guy was on to something, so I worked on his campaign.
Well, Eric Swalwell went on to win the election last November. He’s the youngest Congressman from California. In a matter of weeks he was named assistant Minority Whip and appointed to the Homeland Security Committee. Because of my involvement with Eric, I was appointed his REALTOR® Federal Political Coordinator, which means I’ll keep him up to date on issues that impact both home owners and REALTORS®.
Through these experiences, I learned every generation can develop great leaders, and that leadership is a series of stepping stones for growth in business and in our potential.
- Otto Catrina
Take the next step for your leadership growth, apply now for the next class of the NAR Leadership Academy at REALTOR.org/LeadershipAcademy process closes on March 31.
Last Saturday night I found myself engaged in some light hearted banter on Facebook with some friends from Florida and Tennessee. We were all watching the same program on TV and sharing our own running commentary about what was happening. It was light hearted, fun and gave me a good chuckle. My wife and I were talking later that evening about how glad we were to know these two friends and how knowing them has enriched our lives for the better. If you had read the comments on Facebook, you’d think that these were probably my friends from High School or College that I’ve known for 20+ years, but they weren’t. I didn’t even know these guys a year ago! They were classmates that I met through my participation in the Leadership Academy.
Earlier this year I had some of the same feelings of friendship and gratitude as I reached out to my classmates for some help. I am the dean this year for the Utah Leadership Academy and was looking for some great ideas to implement into our curriculum. Since I’ve only had about three good ideas in my entire life, I decided to tap some of the best minds I know, the 2012 NARLA class. The ideas that came back were great, but what was more important to me was the willingness of these great people to step up, share their ideas and experience just to help me out. It felt so good to know that I have friends from all over the country (and one from Brazil) that will answer my call for help anytime, simply because they care about me.
To me the Real Estate business has always been pretty simple. I’m not saying that it is easy by any means, but the fundamentals are fairly straight forward. The foundation of any good business in my mind is built by great relationships. When REALTORS® have strong relationships with clients, fellow agents, brokers, lenders, etc., success seems to follow. Our own preamble to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics encourages strong and meaningful relationships by stating, “REALTORS® can take no safer guide than that which has been handed down through the centuries, embodied in the Golden Rule, “Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them.” I think this underscores the power of building positive relationships and how it will impact our profession for the better.
I’m grateful for the rich relationships that I’ve been able to establish through service in our REALTOR® associations. Whether it is local, state or national, there seems to be a consistent theme that runs through REALTOR® associations and that theme to me is “good people”. Surrounding yourself with quality people is paramount in becoming the kind of person you want to be. If you want a great experience to do just that, consider applying for the NAR Leadership Academy. You’ll be glad you did. Who knows, someday you may be sitting around on a Saturday night chit chatting with your new buddies wondering where they have been all your life!
If you’re interested in serving in a leadership position (whether it be local, state or national), then the best thing you can do is let people know that you are interested!
The first step to making that happen is to show that you’re serious about your career path. You can do that by applying for the 2014 Leadership Academy class. It’s not hard, all you have to do is fill out the online application here.
The unofficial prerequisites for applying for the Leadership Academy come naturally for those that were born to lead. They are also considered to be some of the basic criteria building blocks of a good leader:
1) You’re in this for the long haul.
Leadership is a commitment. Be prepared to put the time and efforts into this program. There are four retreats (most of which the expenses are underwritten by NAR) and one webinar that will require your attendance over a seven-month period in order to graduate. Make sure that you are willing to commit to the program.
2) You don’t mind hard work and collaboration.
Luckily, we’re not talking hard manual labor here. But we are talking about hard work in that you will have to work together with your class to develop a project that will benefit the Association and give value to the membership. You will need to collaborate with others and identify their strengths and weaknesses, as well as your own. Get along and play nicely. You’ll have to do this often when in a leadership role.
3) You strive to be better.
You may be great at your job and what you do, but don’t come into this with an overbearing ego. Be easy to work with, be willing to share your strengths, and be willing to learn. All leaders have to start somewhere, so you will want to come into this program ready to learn from others.
4) You have a good life balance.
Leaders often show a well-roundness in their life with work, personal and community relationships. Networking in all areas of your life (not just your REALTOR® life) is what brings your world full-circle. It also shows that you can handle multiple things and projects at once. It also shows that there are a lot of areas of people who know you and can vouch for you and what kind of person you are. You will need these references to round out your Leadership Academy application.
Now once you have realized that you meet these basic building blocks and you recognize your desire to lead, then show us you’re interested, by applying for the 2014 NAR Leadership Academy class. You won’t regret it.
The 2013 NAR Leadership Academy class is a diverse group of REALTORS® spanning the globe. Our class this year is composed of 17 individuals who are committed to learning more about the REALTOR® organization, each other and how they can use their talents to strengthen NAR’s mission. Meet the class here.
The class met during NAR’s Annual Meeting in Orlando. Otto Catrina, past chair of the Leadership Academy, provided an overview of expectations for the NAR Leadership Academy experience. As a past graduate, Otto shared his own experience, those of his colleagues and provided an insight into life after the Academy and the role of the Advisory Board. I then provided an overview of leadership and leadership styles and challenged the class to try different styles of leadership in various situations to practice and learn what is the most effective for them.
Stephanie Singer, NAR’s Managing Director of Public Affairs shared several aspects of NAR’s programs that promote the REALTOR® brand to the general public. Stephanie also shared how NAR decides to focus on specific issues or messages that are targeted to the consumer. The class was very appreciative of all of the information and learned that the Public Advocacy campaign provides a comprehensive set of resources for the members to use, and that the campaign is not just a few commercials seen on television.
The class then had a wonderful opportunity to hear from 2012 President Moe Veissi and past president, Ron Phipps. Ron delivered a wonderful message about his leadership within the REALTOR® organization at various levels of the organization and some successes and challenges that he had faced. The group also heard from current leaders Brooke Hunt, Leslie Rouda-Smith and Elizabeth Mendenhall. These leaders shared how an idea turns into an actionable program within the REALTOR® organization. Each of these leaders have lead and participated in different committees and Presidential Advisory Groups that were challenged to determine the course of action and direction that the organization needed to take in response to market situations.
The class had a team-building assignment that took them all over downtown Orlando working in various ways of as a team, learning about each other’s strengths and how to best collaborate to achieve a goal. The end of the day concluded with a wrap-up of each team’s performance and a well-deserved group dinner.
Our next session will take place January 28-29th in Washington DC where the class will learn about NAR’s regulatory and legislative initiatives.
For more information on the National Association of REALTORS Leadership Academy (NARLA) and to apply for the graduating class of 2014 visit REALTOR.org/LeadershipAcademy
On March 31, the application process for the 2013 class for the NAR Leadership Academy was closed, and all of us who will select participants are very pleased with the number of Academy hopefuls that came in. Over the next few days, I’ll join members of the Advisory Board in evaluating applicants and conducting our due diligence; I’m sure each of us will put in a lot of hours to thoughtfully consider and rank each applicant before we meet next month at the NAR Midyear meetings.
What we look for are REALTORS who are active on the local and state levels and have a passion for issues that are good for the industry. We want individuals who are well rounded, rather than someone who’s served on 100 different committees, because our goal is to focus on enhancing their leadership skills through collaboration. In fact, the theme of the 2012 class is “Shaping Tomorrow Together.”
What has changed recently is this: We now personally interview Academy candidates, and we’ve made the decision to keep the class sizes smaller.
At the last Midyear meeting, we learned that around 90 percent of those applying for the Academy were in Washington. So we sent text messages and made calls and were able to set up face-to-face interviews with most; we found that to create the class chemistry it was best to meet the candidates and learn more about them, a conversation goes beyond what’s on paper. We wanted to see first-hand their passion and look into their eyes to get a better idea on just how committed they are to being part of the Academy.
And, we realized that having 17 students rather than 27 made the program more intimate; it allowed the group to become much closer and more transparent. What’s interesting about the 2012 class is that we have a good blend of different generations, from seasoned REALTORS to REALTORS who are relatively new to the industry. Those of us who are more experienced provide the mentoring, and the younger members provide reverse-mentoring; we offer wisdom, and they offer technical insight.
I’ve been a part of the Academy since its inception and have been fortunate to witness the success of the program these past four years. Relationships made within each class stretch across the country and true bonds are created. Personally, my participation has helped me grow, and I feel blessed to be part of this process.
With the 2013 class, I’m very confident that Theresa Hatton, Executive Vice President of the Greenwich Association of REALTORS®, will do a tremendous job as chair. She’s the first non-REALTOR to lead the Advisory Board, and she’s been a dynamic colleague. And, Bobbie and Rita, the staff at NAR who manage the program, have been great to work with. One final thought. I’m really passionate about the next generation of REALTORS. It’s tremendous to see how they’re willing to collaborate; because one thing’s for certain: We’re all in this business together.