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RISMEDIA, October 20, 2010—As a REALTOR® association executive, you are not only responsible for the constant improvement of your personal leadership skills, but also for the growth and cultivation of your volunteer leaders. You are responsible for inculcating in the mind of the novitiate volunteer, not only the traits, characteristics and examples of leadership, but very importantly, what I refer to as the Three Core Principles of Association management and leadership, upon which your association was built, and will continue to grow and thrive in the future:

-Associations have a perpetual life.
-Associations have a continuum of leadership.
-Associations have a continuum of membership.

It is your duty as a leader, to ensure that leadership is part of the DNA of your organization.

Leadership ideas and concepts should be visible to all members each and every day, and brought to consciousness whenever possible—and repetition is the mother of learning. At the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, the walls of Luce Hall (the Naval Science building where I attended my first formal training in leadership) were lined with plaques with famous naval sayings. The intention was repetition. The result is that ideas, concepts and philosophies become part of one’s belief systems when observed, considered and weighed repetitively, over time.

Associations require leaders that understand and feel, if you will, those cornerstones mentioned earlier in this article—concepts for the effective, year-after-year development of our Realtor associations. It is imperative that these concepts be introduced and held constantly in the eyes of all members. Having these concepts integrated into the thoughts of our associations will help provide more consistent, member benefitting decision making, year after year, decade after decade.

Consider creating posters with these concepts prominently displayed at your association, in the lobby area and in the boardroom. They will make a difference.

Let’s examine each of these principles and the impact an understanding of them will have upon your organization.

Associations Have a Perpetual Life
Not only must associations serve their members today, they must be prepared to serve their members in the future. Here is an important distinction…serving your current members in the future, while at the same time preparing to serve future members. These are two different things. Associations that do not do both place themselves in peril of becoming irrelevant, and possibly extinct. The consciousness of perpetual life will help guide your association into the future.

Associations Have a Continuum of Leadership
Decision-making at associations should always be done in context. Your association is not where it is today, in the position it is in today, based upon the actions of the current leadership. It has a history as a successful organization because of the ideas, principles, disciplines and thoughts instilled by former leaders. It’s the compounding effect of values that has helped to shape your current organization.

Associations Have a Continuum of Membership
Have you ever had a board of directors want to give rebates to the current members because there was a revenue surplus in a particular year? What they fail to realize is that any surplus is only a surplus because the association managed its financial affairs properly. Should new members be entitled to a refund when the reason there is a surplus is many years of work by past volunteers?

Begin with the Fundamentals
Don’t assume that your board of directors is conscious of good leadership. Provide short, simple leadership tips and basics on a recurring basis.

Here are a few fundamental concepts exemplified by those we would consider good leaders:
-Commend in public.
-Reprimand in private.
-Perform their current job.
-Prepare for the next job.
-Train their successor.

Leadership is not just a position. Having the title “president,” “officer” or “director” does not make one a good leader. Leadership is a skill that, for most, improves with practice.

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Saul Klein is CEO of Point2 Technologies Inc., author of MLS 5.0 – The MLS of the Future Whitepaper, a licensed real estate broker in California for the past 32 years and 1993 president of the San Diego Association of REALTORS®. He created NAR’s ePRO Technology Certification Program in 2001 and NAR’s Web 2.0 & Social Media Course in 2009. Klein has been providing strategic planning and leadership programs to the industry since 1994 and is a 1972 graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.