As the newbie on the leadership team, I have lots to learn! Much of what happens in leadership is process driven. In an organization of our size, 1.14 million members, and complexity, there is a lot to do and a tremendous amount to study. While engaged in that process, you cannot help but notice how great the “system,” works.
Specifically, there is an amazing collaboration between the volunteer leaders and our professional staff. Each year the volunteer leaders change, people leaving the team, people joining the team. This year they include President Charles McMillan, President-Elect Vicki Cox Golder, First Vice-President Ron Phipps, Treasurer Jim Helsel, Immediate Past President Dick Gaylord, Vice President of Committees Steve Brown, and Vice President of Government Affairs Gary Thomas. Dale Stinton is the Chief Executive Officer, who with his equally amazing team, forwards the ambitious agenda and critical mission of this organization. This is not an easy task. You cannot help but smile when you think about the different personalities of the volunteer leaders that pass through leadership. As soon as the professional staff gets used to one presidential personality, a new one is in office.
What is amazing is that it works and no one sees or knows of the challenge. It is always a balance. The volunteer leaders are responsible for mapping the strategic course of the organization. Dale and his staff work with us on the plan, but they are responsible for the execution of the programs.
The Right Tools, Right Now initiative is a great example of the effectiveness of this model. Last fall, the leadership team meeting included a discussion of how badly our individual members were faring. This was as the result of an e-mail sent by a Realtor® member from North Carolina. As leadership, we were listening, but “felt” unable to do more than encourage people to simply “bear it.”
After the first of the year, Dale and his team stepped up and came up with the Right Tools, Right Now initiative. More people have used it than we would have imagined. It is effective. To promote Right Tools Right Now, President McMillan and I recently discussed the initiative in his President’s Podcast.
Also amazing is the “espirit de corps” that develops among the leadership team. You have friends, mentors, and co-leaders. Each one is so committed to doing right by the organization and the membership. Sometimes we commiserate. Sometimes the challenges are overwhelming, but the team members support each other. When we need to fill in for each other, we do. When we deliberate issues, it is issue-centric not personality driven. It takes time to create that level of trust and respect.
The leadership team model works. Leaders listen and things happen. – Ron Phipps, 2009 NAR First Vice President