I’ve been learning a lot about the practice of Leadership lately, especially as it relates to the Real Estate industry.
There exists a misguided notion that Leaders in our industry are created by the dollar volume of transactions or number of transactions a specific Realtor completes over a period of time. Certainly, that’s an organic form of leadership—one based on an example of “success” in our industry. However, leadership in Real Estate is much, much more than simply selling a lot of property over a specific period of time.
A number of years ago, I was asked by Don Watson, R(B), to participate with the Kona Board of Realtors as a Director on the Board of Directors. At the time, I thought it was a great opportunity to network with Kona Realtors, and a chance to have the “inside scoop” on the industry in exchange for a few hours of my time every month. As the years went on, I occupied different positions on the Board, got more involved and witnessed a succession of Leaders go through some of the hardest times our industry has ever seen. Each President had their unique set of challenges and responses, and I learned from every one of them.
Leaders are not always the person you see at the helm of the ship. An example that comes to mind is Gretchen Lambeth, R(B). Gretchen has devoted herself to the financial health of the Kona Board for more than three years now. She has driven us tirelessly from financial disorganization and loss, through bare-bones-is-this-budget-going-to-last-the-year, to it’s current state of health—fiscal responsibility, preparedness and ability to offer ever-expanding services to our members with no raise in dues for 2011. Gretchen may never choose to be Board President, but there’s no denying her tremendous gift of leadership to the Board.
Last week I graduated from the Hawaii Association Leadership Academy along with our esteemed Hawaii Life leader, Matt Beall, R(PB). This unique program was composed of 12 Realtors from around the state—every island was represented along with every generation and years of expertise in the business, spread across all different sorts of Brokerage business models.
Over the course of six months, three retreats, two islands and one big project, we learned from Beth Holiday, HAR Education Chair and our company trainer, about the tenets of leadership and how to apply them in our personal, business and industry roles. We learned about not making assumptions and not taking things personally. We learned about pursuing high-leverage opportunities, mobilizing support, and building teams. Four groups created viable projects which will be presented to the Hawaii Association of Realtors Board of Directors next month, with the hope that HAR will choose to implement all four as ideas whose time has come for the betterment of HAR and it’s members.
As my time draws near to take up the reins of the Kona Board of Realtors—soon to be renamed the West Hawaii Association of Realtors—as President of the Board, naturally I’ve been contemplating leadership and all that I’ve learned thus far—and wondering both about what the coming months will bring me as challenges, and what my responses will be. With my heavy involvement in technology and social media, you might be able to guess what direction I think we’re headed. I pretty much live my life out loud and if there’s one thing I’m committed to, it’s walking my talk. Clearly, that’s one of the most important tenants of leadership, and I believe in transparency.
I have to giggle because last Friday night as I was handed the microphone at KBR’s Affiliates’ Night and told to introduce myself, I couldn’t remember my “title” at the board. As I thought about it later and realized how ditzy I must have sounded, my first reaction was defensiveness: “well, I just came back from HARLA, and I have a title at my company but we weren’t introducing ourselves that way and, and, and…” and then it hit me—it doesn’t matter. Because my truth is, I could care less about titles and knightships and letters after someone’s name. Just because someone has a title or a bunch of designations, it’s not a given that they are a leader. I should know, I was vice-president of a stock-trading company at age 22.
Am I scared to become president of the Board? Of course! It’s a new thing, an unknown. I am changing and, as a human, that’s scary! But I know I am prepared to become President of the Kona Board of Realtors, and have the support systems in place to help me expand and grow in a way that furthers our industry, our professionalism, and our lives. I am committed to living my Best Hawaii Life. So what if I forget my title? I know who I am.