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!
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!
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.
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.
At the recent REALTORS® Conference & Expo, Moe Veissi was sworn in as the 2012 National Association of REALTORS® President. He encouraged members to be beacons of light for home ownership in local communities, and he pledged the commitment of the national leadership team in this effort.
The leadership already is hard at work, with Moe testifying on Capitol Hill this week where he made a forceful case before a key congressional committee to protect FHA from potentially destabilizing changes to the agency’s main insurance fund. Some lawmakers have been talking about curbing the agency as a step toward reducing the federal government’s role in home ownership and also to shore up its reserves. Watch his testimony here.
Learn more about the 2012 leadership team and who they are professionally and personally. Meet the 2012 NAR leadership team.
And a round of congratulations to members of the leadership academy who are serving prominent roles at the national level. Graduates of the leadership academy who are NAR liaisons are:
Francisco Angulo (2009), Miami, FL – Global, Resort & Second-Home Real Estate Group
Daryl Braham (2008), Fargo, ND – Political Fundraising Liaison
Brook Hunt (2008), Flower Mound, TX – Diversity, State & Political Issues Group
Reinaldo “Rei” Mesa (2011), Sunrise, FL – Liaison for Large Firm Relations
Kenny Parcell (2009), Spanish Fork, UT – Information, Communications & Professional Development Group
Congratulations to the graduates who will be 2012 Regional Vice Presidents:
Richard Brogan (2010), Felton, DE – Region 3
Michael Labout (2009), Colorado Spring, CO – Region 11
Theresa Stewart (2008), Ada, OK – Region 9
All of the 2012 national committee appointments can be viewed here, login to REALTOR.org required.
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 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.