When You Care Enough to Give the Very Best

Even in the best of times, it is an act of charity and graciousness when brokers commit their time and energies to participation in the governance and leadership of their REALTOR® association. But today, with virtually every brokerage firm in the country fighting for its survival, volunteering to serve on the board has become an act of selflessness and courage. It takes a special person to contribute to the good of the whole while struggling to survive in the present.

In the face of this contribution, local and state associations should make a special effort to ensure that their annual leadership and planning conference represents a key value to its leadership. Anyone even remotely familiar with the current state of the industry and even the most conservative predictions for 2011 knows that these are in fact, no ordinary times.

For those whose view of reality does not include bringing the association’s leadership and governance team together to update themselves and plan for what could be the most traumatic year in the industry’s recent history, the only possible term that would apply is “negligence.” Any suggestion that an existing plan more than nine months old is sufficient is fantasy.

The purpose of this piece is to provide brokers who are participating in association leadership with a glimpse into what role such a conference could and should play in the 2011 association calendar of events.

In order to provide an example for this discussion, reference will be made to such an event executed last month by one of the country’s premiere local associations.

Without question, the key to a successful leadership event is respect. Respect for those involved in leadership should be, at all levels from staff to the newest member, an essential element of the organizational culture. The design and execution of an annual leadership event must be carried out with the same passion and commitment to excellence as a family wedding. No detail is too remote and every consideration is given to ensuring that each leadership participant is treated as a VIP.

Given today’s rapidly transitioning real estate industry, no conference component is as important as information and analysis regarding the current industry and market environment. Virtually every element of the industry and the marketplace is in a state of rapid change, with both the circumstances and the lexicon changing almost quarterly. Like waves pounding a shoreline, powerful economic, market, consumer and technological forces are having a significant impact upon our industry and marketplace. Each of these forces is impacting the industry and the marketplace and thus should be impacting state and local association operations.

The opening presentation for this conference featured a very articulate economist who brilliantly explained both the national and regional status of the general economy as well as the housing sector. He helped the shadow inventory make sense and guided participants to an understanding of how current economic and market forces would impact their marketplace. His input was dramatic and sobering

The overall conference program was designed to maximize participant input. A facilitated 20-minute question and answer session followed every presentation. Throughout the entire conference, participants were able to access a live texting board to both present questions and offer comments and observations. The second day of the conference was given over to small group, whole group and panel discussions during which participants were able to use their new knowledge and existing wisdom to discuss and debate 2011 goals and objectives.

The second presentation was given by a senior executive of the Scripps Network whose comments and materials focused on the care and feeding of today’s emerging consumer. He identified the unique and specific expectations and demands of this new consumer and set forth a number of tactics and practices that brokers should use to engage this new customer. His continuing theme called for brokers and agents to become transaction curators charged with transitioning transactions into unique consumer experiences.

The third presentation featured a powerful member/political advocate from the East Coast, who did an incredible job of bringing RPAC alive for 2011. He identified the issues, friends and enemies and set forth specific strategies and tactics for winning the battle that lies ahead.

The fourth presenter was a senior executive from one of the major Internet real estate portals. He talked about Web 3 and how the current iteration of the Internet and social media were impacting the marketplace and the transaction. His passion and knowledge lit up the room.

The fifth presenter was an expert in association operations and provided a detailed roadmap for associations that wished to be relevant to their memberships in the new industry environment.  He reviewed how traditional association relationships and basic roles were changing.  He talked about how generational issues were impacting association directions. He presented the alarming results of recent research that reflected just how few REALTORS® are registered to vote and how even fewer actually vote.

Two additional presentations covered the current status of the brokerage community and social media in the real estate space.

By the end of the first day, the participating leaders had gained an understanding of what was happening in their industry and marketplace and, more importantly, what options and opportunities their association had in terms of contributing to its members’ professional survival and success. The second day’s session lasted four hours and provided participants with an opportunity to combine what they had learned with what they already understood about their local situation resulting in a preliminary set of goals and objectives for 2011.

Each individual’s time and energies were respected in the planning and execution of this event. Every member of this association will directly benefit from having a leadership and governance team that is informed, connected and engaged.

If you are a broker who has been elected and appointed to association leadership, insist on participating in a productive annual leadership conference. There is no other activity that can do as much to ensure the effectiveness and focus of leadership resources.  Most importantly, there is no other investment that can ensure that every hour of every leader’s time and energy is being invested and expended appropriately. In 2011, wasting leadership time is not an option. Rather, it is a crime.