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
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
2011 marks the fifth Academy class, and I’m happy to say that I have been involved in every one of the five classes. Each year the board reviews and refines the program with the goal in mind to ignite the leadership passion of each individual.
What I enjoy most is the opportunity to help Academy participants find a place where they can reach their own personal goals. I firmly believe that mentoring is a key component of leadership, especially among volunteers. The Academy is a place where aspiring leaders find supportive colleagues. I think this is an advantage to the REALTOR association model, a place where people who’ve had individual success as entrepreneurs now have the opportunity to work collectively for the good of the profession.
I have a couple of passions that drive my involvement as a volunteer leader; the Realtors® Political Action Committee and professional development. I served as the fundraising chair for NAR this year. It’s an exhausting schedule of meetings, and it’s exhilarating. Especially when I see that moment of recognition for people when they realize the efforts the PAC funds shapes the future of our businesses. On the education front, I have been appointed to the REALTOR® University board of Regents. REALTOR® University is set to offer high-quality entrepreneurial and career-oriented programs in real estate. I want each of the Academy participants to make their own decisions, we have a great group that I know will take advantage of the networking and educational opportunities that are part of the Leadership Academy experience.
When my year as chair ends, for both the Academy and RPAC, it doesn’t mean my passion will dwindle for either cause. I believe that we’re creating the future by our actions today. Developing the future leaders for the National Association of REALTORS® is to create a compelling vision of the vitality of organized real estate.
I encourage all Realtors® to get involved in whatever drives your passions. In my twenty five years of being a REALTOR volunteer leader I’ve had many roles and plan to continue my involvement. Currently, I’m running for 2014 secretary/treasurer of the Texas Association of Realtors® and in 2013 at NAR I will be the Liaison to Committees for Gary Thomas.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” I aspire to leave a legacy of confident, motivated volunteer leaders. We’re always working on improving ourselves and on that course of personal improvement we need to be willing to learn from others. Participating in the Academy helps the participants grow as professionals, and serving as Chair this year helped me, too. I like to say I’m “under construction and will never be complete.”
Hundreds of incoming Realtor® officers and association executives brought enthusiasm and excitement to the 2011 NAR Leadership Summit, held the fourth week of August in Chicago. As a
co–presenter, I was energized by the reception given to myself and consultant/author Valarie Willis as we addressed those assembled for the afternoon session August 22.
It was inspiring to have 1,700 people shout, “We are Realtors®!” while we were on stage. But in all honesty, this was my first time speaking before such a large group and it was a little overwhelming – but in a positive way! Let me acknowledge that there’s a big difference in speaking before a group of 300 or 400 versus the large crowd that was in the gigantic hotel ballroom that afternoon.
I opened up by joking that after kicking the past president out of office, the incoming officers should take it easy on the association executive. Here’s what I meant: The executive now has to learn how to work with a lot of new personalities for the upcoming year and will do a better job if he or she is not burdened by new pressures and demands. I offered two recommendations. First, keep the business of the association simple; and second, remember what’s best for the membership is what really counts.
In a volunteer situation, it’s best to minimize the amount of action items that have to be addressed because the president just has one year in office. You can’t get a lot accomplished if there’s a large laundry list of items on the agenda for each meeting.
The best policy an incoming president can have is to listen to what the members have to say and be transparent. The association executive and the staff are there to take care of the day-to-day issues related to running the organization; the president should focus primarily on the needs of the members and recognize that they have a blank canvass to paint using every color on the pallet. But the leaders have to solicit and use input from everyone, not just a select few.
Let me elaborate. The four areas or characteristics of being a great leader are honesty, being forward-looking, being inspirational and competency in your profession. Of those four, honesty keeps surfacing as being the number one trait in a leader. A leader needs to say what he or she plans to do, and then do it.
I made it clear to the Realtor® officers and executives that leaders have to talk candidly about expecting the best out of others, and to be inspiring and authentic, especially in today’s market when we’re going through some tough times. You can’t sugarcoat the message.
The real estate industry is changing, and it will be much different three to five years out from what it is today. Realtor® leaders must realize that we must innovate in order to provide the best products and services for our members.
By Don Yaeger
Don is a four-time New York Times Bestselling author and former Sports Illustrated Associate Editor. Using rich, personal accounts gathered from more than 20 years of interviews with many of today’s greatest sports legends, Don has distilled Sixteen Consistent Characteristics of Greatness, which he will share at the National Association of Realtors Leadership Summit on August 23, 2011.
Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-son team who together compete almost every weekend in some back-breaking marathon. And if they’re not in a marathon, they are in a triathlon – some of them daunting Ironman-length events which are a combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of biking and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.
It’s a remarkable record of exertion and discipline – all the more so when you consider that Rick can’t walk or talk.
For more than 30 years, 70-year-old Dick has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines. When Dick runs, he pushes Rick in a wheelchair. When Dick cycles, Rick is in a seat on the front of the bike. And when Dick swims, he pulls Rick in an inflatable dinghy.
Rick’s fight started at birth when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. “The doctors told us that Rick would be a vegetable for the rest of his life,” Dick told me while working together on Team Hoyt’s autobiography, released this spring. “They told us to forget him. Put him in an institution. On our way home, my wife and I cried.” But the Hoyt’s refused to abandon Rick and, much to the surprise of doctors and others around him, Rick responded. “When you looked in his eyes and he was looking right at you, you could tell there was a lot going on up there,” said Dick.
At 12-years-old Rick proved doctors wrong when he found his voice through a computer called the Hope Machine. Soon after, Rick learned of a five-mile charity race for an athlete from his school that had been paralyzed in an accident. Through his computer, Rick told his father he wanted to show his support. Dick doubted that he, a self-described “porker,” could run five miles while pushing Rick in a wheelchair, but he gave it a shot.
“That first race almost killed me,” Dick remembers. But none of that mattered when Rick typed out, “Dad, when we were running it feels like I’m not paralyzed anymore.”
That was all Dick needed to hear. The sentence changed their lives. And it changed the lives of countless others, too. “Team Hoyt” was born and their story, captured on YouTube and in the media, has inspired tens of thousands of others.
Today the duo is embraced by all who meet or even hear of them, but it wasn’t always that way. In the beginning, Dick remembers, “Nobody wanted Rick in a road race. Everybody looked at us, nobody talked to us, nobody wanted to have anything to do with us.” Even the Boston Marathon, which Team Hoyt competes in every year, wouldn’t let them compete until they completed a qualifying race in record time.
But Dick never gave up. His motivation is singular and selfless. He is determined to give his son a better life, a life that transcends the limitations of his body.
“He is not just my arms and legs,” writes Rick. “He’s my inspiration, the person who allows me to live my life to the fullest and inspire others to do the same.”
To learn more about Team Hoyt, visit their website at www.TeamHoyt.com. To order a copy of their new book, Devoted, go to http://www.donyaeger.com/index.php?page=devoted.
Tips from the Great Ones
Dick and Rick Hoyt are living proof that the power of adversity, when harnessed, can fuel limitless internal strength.
Adversity is one of the most potent forces in life. One that can bring out the best or the worst – build you up or tear you down. Ultimately, it’s up to you.
Every person faces all kinds of adversity every day, whether it’s internal – like depression, poor health or insomnia – or external – like a natural disaster, canceled flight or speeding ticket.
When you come face to face with these setbacks, you must use your resources to create opportunities. Your problems have no mind of their own – so outsmart them. Think of one hardship that has been weighing on your mind lately and take it head on. Stop procrastinating and making excuses. The idea is to tackle adversity proactively, not just when you are forced to, because this is what gives you the advantage.
Your reaction to adversity shapes your character, clarifies your priorities and defines your path. And, as in Dick and Rick’s case, it can fuel your greatness.
By Otto Catrina, 2011 Vice Chair, NAR Leadership Academy
Over three days in August, more than 1,600 REALTOR® leaders and executives from across the nation will gather in Chicago to network, share ideas, learn and help set the course for the organization in 2012 and beyond. I’m referring to the 2011 Leadership Summit, the annual gathering of incoming state and local association officers and their chief staff executives.
The theme for this year’s Summit, which will be hosted by NAR 2011 President-Elect Moe Veissi, is “REALTORS® Are the Heart of the Deal.” I have the honor and privilege of participating in a presentation entitled “Leadership from the Heart,” along with Valerie Willis, a master facilitator and author.
Our presentation is based on The Leadership Challenge, a book written more than 25 years ago that still offers valuable insight for leaders today. For those who can’t attend the Summit, let me share a few thoughts related to the presentation Valerie and I will deliver August 22.
Conduct a Self Inventory. Each of us has to find our own voice as a leader. The best way to do that is to conduct a self inventory of our leadership skills. Do this on a daily basis, even though it’s hard to admit to making mistakes. It’s hard to be perfect. So be vulnerable, because that’s part of what constitutes being a human being. And, don’t try to compare yourself to others. Learn what leadership traits you have and where you are in your career. Each of us has to have his or her own voice.
Recognize these four principles. One direction we’ll take at the Summit presentation is to point out four principles of leadership and challenge the audience to work on mastering these every day. Some days, you might master these 80 percent of the time, and other days you’ll master them 100 percent of the time. They are:
• Forward looking
We all can grow into leaders. People are born with a leadership mindset, but they are not born leaders. Becoming a true leader requires that we continually develop our leadership skills over time. Some people are naturally charismatic, and others are not. Some need to explore their inner territory more often to determine if they’re doing well as a leader. Personally, I subscribe to the Harvard Business Review on Leadership because it forces me to be more visionary and forward-thinking, especially regarding technology.
Celebrate victories, even small ones. Today’s economy continues to raise challenges for REALTORS® and the industry. Still, we must always aspire to succeed. Leaders today need to constantly celebrate victories and not concentrate on the negative stuff. Even a small victory is worth celebrating. Leaders need to constantly ask, “What can I do to help make people feel better?”
Let me conclude with this metaphor on leadership: It’s like peeling an onion because you learn more and more with each layer. And, as you learn more as a leader, you can become more inspirational to help constituents get past the obstacles ahead.
Technology has been instrumental in my success as a Realtor®, but when I entered the real estate industry, I had a lot to learn. For me, using technology to grow my business started somewhat by default. I don’t have a technology background, but the subject always appealed to me. When I got into real estate and started doing transactions that involved other agents, I learned that a lot of them were not very tech savvy.
I saw this as an opportunity here in my marketplace of Columbia, Missouri, so I taught myself. Now, I’m very up to speed and have realized this: Putting a good technology platform and system in place is almost as good as having a live person on your team.
An independent agent might not be able to afford a licensed assistant, but they can employ technology to gain a competitive foothold in their market. The best initial advice I can offer to Realtors® is to earn the E-Pro designation; it’s the first one I got, and it put me way ahead of the competition.
For those interested in putting technology to work, let me share these observations:
1. Lead Generation Websites Work. Set up your website to become a lead generation site to capture data on prospective buyers. What you’re doing is asking the user of the site to register with their name, phone number and email address. If they provide a fake email and name, they don’t want you to contact them; but if it’s true contact information, they want you to call. Does it pay dividends? My lead generation site generates more traffic in my office that 107 other agent web sites combined.
2. There is Power in Social Media. Many people who use social media sites – whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn or Plaxo — are not taking advantage of these platforms. I see more mistakes than successes because the user is not projecting themselves as a real person. I plan a purposeful mix of personal and business information to reflect the balance of my personal life and work.
3. Understand the Benefits of Blogging. To truly understand all the benefits of the web, you have to interact with prospects and spread content to multiple sites. It’s crucial to spread your message everywhere, and a great way to do that is through a blog. I’m blogging every day about what’s going on in my micro area. I focus on who’s buying and selling in my community, and the results were exponential to the power of ten. It does take time, but I’m reaping the results.
From the leadership perspective, technology allows leaders to keep in contact with constituents in real time. Realtor® volunteer leaders, whether they’re involved on a national, state or local level, are truly mobile today and can respond instantly to those who need advice.
One final suggestion: Make your email address the same as your name. It will travel with you for life.