A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with an agent about the time he spent in the he United States Marine Corps. I was impressed and intrigued about the level of discipline and expertise it takes to be a Marine. I also could feel the deep sense of loyalty, pride and appreciation he had for his fellow Marines and the Corps in general.
It made me think about some of the principles that cause Marines to feel so deeply about being a part of this elite organization, so I did a little research. I found that there are 11 principles that Marine officers are taught to help them become great leaders and soldiers. As I read these principles I thought that these leadership skills not only apply to the Marines, but they can be implemented into our everyday life to be great REALTORS® and great people. Let me share with you a few examples.
Be Technically and Tactically Proficient
Marine officers need to be highly competent in their Military Occupational Specialty to be great leaders to their units. As REALTORS®, we need to be doing the same in our Professional Occupational Specialty. Being out in front of political issues that affect property rights and our profession, understanding how to utilize current technology to best serve our clients and understanding how our associations can best serve our membership is part of being a REALTOR® leader.
Know Yourself and Seek Improvement
Marines don’t just go through basic training and call it a day. They continue to train, learn and improve themselves. NAR provides us with many resources to improve ourselves, one of which is the NAR Leadership Academy. One of Stephen R. Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people includes a habit he refers to as “sharpening the saw”. Simply stated, it means that we need to take the time to develop and hone skills that help us be at the top of our personal and professional game. My experience with the NAR Leadership Academy was a great way for me to get to know and improve on who I am.
Set the Example
Marine officers not only know what to do, but they do it. Perhaps more than any words we speak, taking action and practicing what we preach will be what people remember about us. Many REALTORS® are quick to speak about “what needs to be done”, but few stand up and answer the bell. What kind of REALTOR®are you? A talker or a doer?
Many of the principles espoused by the Marines, I see at work within our REALTOR® Associations. Local, State and National Associations are full of people who want to be technically and tactically proficient, seek improvement and set the example. When you participate with great people you establish strong bonds rooted in a common cause. Much like my friend who feels so strongly about his Marine family, I feel the same way about the REALTOR® family. If you think you have what it takes to lead out in our REALTOR® associations, be sure to apply for the NAR Leadership Academy. We are looking for a few good men and women! Application deadline is March 31st ,2014. What are you waiting for?
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to the Marines and all who serve in all branches of the armed forces. Not only do you put your very life on the line for our country and all of its citizens, but also you give us principles and ideals to aspire to. Your courage, strength and determination are inspirational to me and I am profoundly thankful.
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.
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