You are on page 1of 32






Building the Best Leaders

INTEGRITYd (integrating outwar
values) actions and inner

Leadership Education Opportunities Soar

page 6

VISION what (understanding

your association can become and seeing the path toward that goal)

FAIRNESSers (dealing with oth

consistently and justly)

Insights from Outstanding Presidents

page 16

ASSERTIVENESSand decisions (ability to make

ts expected clearly state wha be done) and what needs to

OPENESS (listening to new

y ideas even if the do not conform to the norm)

Tips for Handling Unhappy Members

page 23

DEDICATION energy e or (spending the tim

lish the goal) necessary to accomp

MAGNANIMITY al (sacricing person

on benet or recogniti the interest of in association goals)

VITY CREATIferently to get outside (thinking dif

REALTOR LEADER 2012 Prototype: Model l, Construction: Loca ALTOR State, National RE Association 2012

strains solutions) of the box that con


Friends in Leadership, Striking a Balance

page 26

Small Board

HUin SENSE OFhumor MOR (expressing the

s to difcult situation and put alleviate stress people at ease)

Plus: Online Copyright Law Young Members and Political Involvement

2012-2013 RAE Editorial Advisory Board

Lynda Anthony Florida Keys Board of REALTORS Karen Becker, CIPS Southeast Minnesota Association of REALTORS Carolyn Blanchard Cook, RCE, e-Pro, CIPS Greater Baltimore Board of REALTORS, Md. Ryan Conrad, RCE, ePRO Lehigh Valley Association of REALTORS, Pa. Shane T. Johnson Quad City Area REALTOR Association Barbara Matthopoulos Chicago Association of REALTORS Carol Platt Osceola County Association of REALTORS, Fla. Tia Robbin, RCE Northwest Montana Association of REALTORS Libby Sheard Little Rock REALTORS Association, Ariz. Susan Tiernan Greater Newburyport Association of REALTORS, Mass. Albert Tran West San Gabriel Valley Association of REALTORS, Calif. Linda Vernon, RCE Bakerseld Association of REALTORS, Calif.

REALTOR association leadership trainers share their expertise and experience in teaching others to how to lead. By Carolyn Schwaar Page 12

Summer 2012

Building the Best Leaders

Presidents with Zeal

Read how four outstanding association volunteers are working with passion and enthusiasm for the REALTOR mission.
By Carolyn Schwaar Page 16 p. 16

A EC C H A I R 2

Reaching new heights in association leadership.

By Ginger Downs, AEC Chair BRIEFING 4

REALTOR association news, events, people, and programs.

By Carolyn Schwaar M Y R E A LTO R PA RT Y 1 1

Young members promote political involvement. By Tania Lee

M A N AG E M E N T 2 0

Tips for handling unhappy members. By Shane Johnson

S M A L L B OA R D 2 2

p. 9

Friends in leadership, a difcult balance. By Amy DuBose

H R C O N N EC T I O N 24

The lowdown on layoffs. By Donna Garcia

The RAE editorial board reviews each issue and provides critical feedback, proposes story ideas and industry contacts to interview, and stays in touch with fellow AEs nationwide to scout out new programs and products to share with the AE community. To join the editorial board, write an article, or contribute information, e-mail Carolyn Schwaar at

L AW & P O L I CY 2 6

Do you understand online copyright law? By Mike Thiel

A E P R O F I L E 28

Terry Penza, the 2012 recipient of the William R. Magel Award for excellence in REALTOR association management.
p. 24 About the cover: The top leadership traits shown are the results from a survey of the leadership trainers featured on p. 14. Results reveal that the number one trait of successful leaders is integrity. Cover image by Carolyn Schwaar.

AEC Chair
Reaching New Heights
Industry is talent-driven today, not gender- or race-driven. What matters now is if a person has the skills and leadership ability to get the job done.
eaders are everywhere. They reside in every city, every position, and every organization. Leaders are employees and volunteers; men and women; old and young. Leadership knows no ethnic, cultural, racial, or religious bounds. Just look around you. Whats signicant about leadership is that everyone has the potential to rise to a leadership role by building on his or her natural abilities. Each of us can take a different path to becoming a leaderthats how we discover new dimensions of leadership and reach new heights. For their book, The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner interviewed thousands of executives worldwide and asked them what traits or characteristics they look for in leaders. They noted several hundred traits and eventually culled their list down to 15 key observables. Although the priority of the traits can change over time, four were repeatedly recognized and clustered together in individuals who are considered leaders. They are: honesty, the ability for look forward (vision), the capacity to inspire others, and competency. As the rules of todays workplace evolve, we expect these traits of our leaders. Today, we also expect our leaders to be emotionally intelligent. In Working with Emotional Intelligence, author Daniel Goleman describes this trait as the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively,

Stedman Graham, Diversity: Leaders Not Labels

Ginger Downs, RCE, CAE, is CEO of the Chicago Association of REALTORS. Contact her at 312-214-5516 or

MORE ONLINE Visit the AE Committee page at for more on AEC activities in 2012.

enabling people to work together smoothly toward their common goal. He describes ve characteristics of emotionally intelligent individuals: Self-awareness: understanding your emotions and their effect on others, and knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Self-regulation: being in control of your emotions and impulses, and taking responsibility for personal performance. Selfmotivation: using your inner drive to accomplish both personal and group goals, despite obstacles and setbacks. Empathy: sensing and meetings others needs, and understanding other peoples feelings and points of view. Social Skills: relating well to others, listening openly and communicating clearly, negotiating and resolving disagreements, and fostering group synergy to reach collective goals. When you are considering your own performance as a leader, ask yourself: Where do I stand on the E.I. scale? Another important aspect of leadership is your ability to model the actions and attitudes of others you identify as leaders and be a model for others. Emphasize the value you provide and give back where you live and work. These steps will de ne you as an inuential leader in the communities you serve. Respectfully,

Ginger Downs

Chair, Association Executives Committee Ginger Downs, RCE, CAE CEO, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Dale A. Stinton, RCE, CAE Senior Vice President, Communications Pamela Geurds Kabati Managing Director, Publications Stacey Moncrieff Editor, REALTOR AE magazine Carolyn Schwaar
430 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 606114087 500 New Jersey Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 200012020 800-874-6500;

Contributing Editor, REALTOR AE magazine Amanda Avutu Advertising Account Representative Stephen Coughlin, 800-542-4835

Questions and Comments e-mail:

2012 by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS0. All rights reserved. (ISSN 00340804) REALTOR AE is a professional magazine published four times yearly by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS as a service for REALTOR association executives. Articles in this magazine are written from the perspective of the REALTOR association executive. REALTOR AE is an informational publication of local, state, and national association programs, activities, and current trends and ideas in association management and their practical application in REALTOR associations. Views and advertising expressed in REALTOR AE are not necessarily those of or endorsed by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. Magazine archives available online at Reprint permission: 312-329-8874. Distribution: Local and state executive ofcers and MLS directors. Subscriptions: Write to NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS, Publications, 430 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611, or call 800-874-6500.


he Direct Connection to Growing Better Leaders is NARs Association Leadership Development (ALD) departments vision. It is the underlying impetus that drives the programs, products, and services that NAR offers for local and state association staff and volunteer leaders. Although many of ALDs programs target professional development opportunities for AEs, including chief staff executives and staff specialists, the menu of services wouldnt be complete without a focus on grooming and developing volunteer leaders. AEs tell us that a strong partnership with volunteer leaders who understand how the association works is critical to a harmonious and effective year. So, together with the Association Executives Committee, ALD has ramped up its volunteer leadership offerings. Many associations have their own highly customized and comprehensive leadership training programs for volunteers, and may be interested only in some enhancements from a national perspective. At the opposite end of the spectrum are associations that dont have staff or nancial resources to develop their own programs, and are looking to us for components that will t their individual needs.

R E A LT O R A S S O C I AT I O N N E W S , E V E N T S & P E O P L E

By Carolyn Schwaar

NARs ALD Department Fosters Stronger Leadership Partnerships

management careers. Its our hope that NARs investment in more knowledgeable and informed new association staff will translate into lower turnover rates and more productive and relevant associations. NARs ALD Staff: Dolores Plambeck, Krystal Allen, Cynthia Although volunteer Bair, Courtney Wilson, Debra Jordan, Cindy Sampalis, leaders and new AEs Laurie Oken, Renee Holland. have been in the ALD spotlight as of late, many of the other agship programsAE Institute, RCE designation, and myriad selfstudy coursesare still in place. These programs have been updated regularly through the years to keep up with AEs ever-increasing level of professionalism and expanding body of knowledge. And, thanks to technology, these programs have greater reach, essential in a down economy where smaller association budgets mean fewer travel and education dollars. As association executives look for more opportunities to learn and grow from the comfort of their ofces, self-study course usage has risen, more REALTOR association Certied Executive exams are administered locally, and the new REALTOR Leadership Program can now be offered at your own association (see p. 6). Social media and new apps have also helped lower printing budgets, with more information now available at the click of a button. Regardless of all the progress and enhancements, ALDs propose remains the same: ensuring that REALTOR associations have the benet of competent, effective, and savvy staff and volunteer leaders who can best help their members meet the challenges of the day. By Cindy Sampalis, managing director of Association Leadership Development

AEs tell us that a strong partnership with volunteer leaders who understand how the association works is critical to a harmonious and effective year.
AEs new to the business of REALTOR association management have also been receiving added attention from ALD. Nearly 150 AEs join the ranks each year, a turnover rate that is costly for associations. ALD hosts a day-and-a-half orientation session designed to familiarize incoming AEs with the programs, services, and resources that NAR offers, and to introduce them to the NAR staff who will serve as valuable resources during their REALTOR association

REALTOR Sings for Needy Homeowners

A little more than a year ago a tornado ripped through Joplin, Mo., claiming 161 lives and destroying real estate ofces and housing inventory. In the past 12 months, REALTOR associations have pitched in to help wherever, and however, they can. For some this has meant picking up a hammer, and for others, a checkbook. For real estate broker Ken Rosberg it meant picking up a microphone. The proceeds from the sale of Rosbergs CD, Jazz for Joplin: Just Follow Your Heart, will benet the survivors of the tornado. When he came to me with this CD and asked me to listen, I gured Id politely tell him it was good, recalls Diane Ruggiero, CEO of the Kansas City Association of REALTORS. But the CD was fabulous! I jokingly told him to give up his day job and go into the recording business! Take a listen and buy a copy at



Local Advocacy Training Begins

In the rst training of its kind, four associations from Iowa and Illinois met in April to receive instruction from Bryan Wahl, NAR political consultant, on how local associations can tap into the wide array of resources available through the My REALTOR Party (MRP) program. Many locals have no idea where to begin, says Shane Johnson, CEO of organization host Quad City Area REALTOR Association. Bryans halfday training included basic information about specic MRP programs, a suggested starting point for locals, and then follow-up where he matched national programs to the needs of the locals, depending on priorities. For those with education on the agenda for the coming year, the training session is a treasure trove. Much of what well be doing this coming year is education, explains Bill Malkasian, NAR vice president, political strategic planning. The Quad City training provided us with a great chance to pilot a local training program and were excited to see the results. Well be using this as a model for training in the future. R EALTOR leaders and staff representatives alike attended from the Iowa City Area R EALTOR Association, the Lamoine Valley Board, the Cedar Rapids Association of R EALTORS , and the Quad City Area R EALTOR Association. The national program has a lot of available options, remarks Pam Jaben, association executive, Iowa City Area R EALTOR Association. Thanks to the regional training, were working through the training materials and the draft plan the Quad Cities put together, shaping them to our local needs. We plan to start small and build from there. If you are interested in arranging a similar training, contact your NAR My REALTOR Party representative at

Lets Play the Leadership Game!

NARs 2012 Leadership Academy is producing a card game called Mind the Gap to help bridge the generational divide between REALTORS. The game is a scenario-based discussion starter where participants role play to better understand REALTORS of different generations. For example, take this scenario from the game:

Maggie is a text-happy 24-year-old REALTOR, who nds herself in a serious negotiation as a sellers agent with 52-year-old Thomas, the buyers agent. As they come to the nal counteroer, Maggie is out with friends when Thomas begins to call multiple times. Maggie sends a text to Thomas phone stating, Whats up?! Thomas is enraged by what he sees as a curt response and continues to call her. By the time shes nished with her friend time, she sees 24 missed calls on her phone from Thomas. As Maggie dials Thomas number, she is enraged. Meanwhile, Thomas is still reeling from the whats up text message. What happens in the conversation next, one can only imagine. You are in the role of a 45-year-old broker who oversees both these REALTORS and both are furiously expecting you to resolve this personal conict. How do you proceed?
NAR hopes to offer the game free to all REALTOR associations this year.

Congratulations, University of Chicago AE Graduates

International Buyers Eye High-End Homes

The NATIONAL A SSOCIATION OF R EALTORS 2012 Prole of International Home Buying Activity, released in June, shows that 52 percent of R EALTORS had at least one international transaction in the past year. Total residential international sales in the United States for the past year ending March 2012 equaled $82.4 billion in 2012, up dramatically from $66.4 billion in 2011. Although U.S. home sales to foreign buyers declined slightly in the year through March 2012, a spike in sales of more expensive property pushed the total sales volume of international sales up 24 percent. To view the report, visit

Five AEs earned their Certicate in Nonprot Management from the University of Chicago in a program sponsored by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. The program will sunset at the end of 2013. Pictured: Kelley Craig, RCE, Greater Portland Board, Maine; Lance Evans, RCE, Jefferson-Lewis Board, N.Y.; Amanda Erickson, Durango Area Association, Colo. Not pictured: Kathy Harbaugh, RCE, Indiana Association; Kaaren Winkler, Washington Association; Lois Monette, Greater Manchester/Nashua Board, Vt.; Donna Reynolds, Santa Fe Association.


L O C A L , S TAT E , N AT I O N A L P R O G R A M S

More Volunteer Leadership Ed Opportunities than Ever Before

ithout leadership, change is slow and organizations stagnate or, worse, fail. Yet effective management alone isnt enough. Leaders with vision, courage, and zeal must propel their organizations forward. These leaders must be identied, encouraged, and given opportunities to hone their skills. This is where leadership training comes in. Over the past few years NAR has launched new training programs to better equip volunteers to lead through challenging times.

RLP is an interactive learning experience, the REAL course is self-paced, teaching the basics of volunteer leadership while providing a comprehensive tool for training potential leadership. For more, contact Renee Holland,


Established in 2009, NARs Leadership Academy identies and grooms a small group of emerging leaders from local and state associations (17 in 2013) for potential leadership roles at the National Association. Qualied candidates are selected through an application process and personal interviews. The 2014 Leadership Academy application process will open in midOctober 2012. For more, visit and search Leadership Academy or call 312-329-8321. Also visit the Leadership Academy blog at

State and Locals Elevate Goals of Leadership Training

Over the past ve years, REALTOR association leadership training has matured beyond the annual retreat for a handful of leadership team members. To build a larger, stronger pool of future leaders, associations cant simply focus on the next years leaders, they must plan for the next decade of leaders by creating leadership academies, multiyear training courses, and educational opportunities open to all members.


The RLP, established in 2011, is designed to produce quality REALTOR leaders by focusing on teaching key leadership skills and association management skills, including strategic planning, risk management, relationship-building with volunteers, conict resolution, and more. A cadre of association leadership professionals, including many seasoned AEs, has been specically trained to facilitate these courses, which consist of an optional-but-encouraged online course and two, three-hour, interactive, livepresentation courses held at local or state associations, as well as NAR national meetings. RLP is open to all REALTORS. For more, visit REALTOR. org and search RLP.

To attract participants, state and local associations are marketing their leadership programs as a way members can learn new skills to grow their business and make a difference in their community. The Florida REALTORS Leadership Academy, for example, boasts that it will empower you to maximize your leadership potential. The Bay Area REALTORS Leadership Academy, an alliance of three local associations, says members in its program will learn to polish their strengths and learn new skills that will prove useful in all aspects of life and career. And the Maryland Leadership Academy says its program is rst and foremost a personal development program that will benet participants in their daily lives.


Real estate and association management experts Jeremy Conaway, Jim Sherry, and Stefan Swanepoel have teamed up to offer teams of REALTOR association leaders a new training and consulting program designed to increase productivity, enhance associations value propositions, and uncover solutions to members challenges. Called the Pinnacle Group Project, this new two-year, intensive course of study consists of on-site sessions, coaching webinars, and access to an online association portal. Topics covered include building consumer/REALTOR relationships, new media, and creating relevant products and services. Although this is not an NAR-hosted program, NAR supports it and offers a range of discounts on the $12,000 tuition. For more, visit

Multifaceted leadership development programs are expensive to produce, so associations typically charge tuition. The one-year, ve-retreat program from the Kansas Association of REALTORS, called The Right Track Leadership Academy, costs $279 per participant, while the one-year, nine-module Triangle REALTORS Leadership Academys tuition fee is $600. Finding and coordinating speakers, developing curriculum, and arranging venues are new tasks that associations absorb or assign to a workgroup of volunteers. For more on leadership education opportunities in your state, contact your state association of REALTORS.

The REALTORS Excelling in Association Leadership (REAL) program is a six-module, online self-study course, established in 2010. Its available at no cost and covers many of the same topics as the RLP, including meeting management, association governing documents and policies, legal and regulatory activities, real estate issues and trends, enhanced leadership skills, visioning, planning, and budgeting. Where the

spring 2012



REALTOR Associations Win Grants to Fund Housing Programs

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS awarded grants totaling more than $60,000 to 19 state and local REALTOR associations through the Housing Opportunity Program this year. The HOP grants program is a national effort to promote and expand affordable housing in communities across the nation. Since its inception, the program has awarded more than $660,000. Arcadia Association, Calif.: $1,000 to support a forum for elected ofcials for a discussion related to the communitys redevelopment plans. Akron Area Board, Ohio: $2,500 toward a consumer housing summit with the theme Dont Give Up the Dream. Asheville Board, N.C.: $3,000 to create a free short sale and foreclosure prevention course for the public. Fredericksburg Area Association, Va.: $5,000 to support participation with several other local REALTOR associations to create an online, interactive resource providing information about affordable housing programs, nancing options, and best practices. Hays Board, Ky.: $2,000 to conduct a survey of community housing needs to determine the best use of land for additional housing development. Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS, Ill.: $3,000 toward a program, in partnership with a VA hospital, to provide security deposits for homeless veterans. San Mateo County Association, Calif.: $2,000 to present an educational workshop for rst-time home buyers, which will explain the home buying process from start to nish. Santa Clara County Association, Calif.: $5,000 to fund and operate a foreclosure prevention center through a consortium of nonprot housing agencies, the city, and local REALTOR associations. West Metro Board, Ga.: $2,500 to work in conjunction with the city and housing authority to create a program to provide down payment assistance to qualied borrowers. Williamson County Association, Tenn.: $3,000 to create a Web site to inform the public about changes in the housing market, requirements for home ownership, and how to be a responsible property owner. To learn about more programs and applying for assistance grants, visit

Know the Facts: MLS Caravan Risk Mitigation

ven with the ubiquity of virtual and brokerage video tours, the traditional MLS caravan (where agents drive their own cars to visit listings in person en masse) is alive and well in many parts of the country. Some members say previewing properties in person is the best way to keep their nger on the pulse of the local real estate market. For the MLSs that host these tours, there are necessary precautions to take to limit your legal liability. NAR association counsels Mike Thiel and Katherine Johnson provide some guidance.
Q. If a REALTOR association or MLS hosts an MLS caravan, what are its liabilities if members were to get injured (or injure a third party) while on the caravan driving their own vehicles?

As always, liability will be determined by a court of law based on the facts and circumstances of the situation. However, an MLS that organizes an MLS tour risks being subject to liability in the event that a tour participant is injured or injures a third party. If the injury takes place while the participant is riding in a vehicle, then the vehicle owner/operator could also be primarily liable for damages resulting from the injury. To involve the MLS, the injured party would have to argue that the vehicle owner or operator caused the injury and the MLS was vicariously responsible for the acts of the operator. To reduce the risk of being sued by an MLS tour caravan participant, the MLS could request all participants to sign a waiver of liability prior to embarking on the MLS tour. In addition, the MLS may also ask participants to promise that they will indemnify the MLS in the event that the MLS is sued for an injury caused by them during the MLS tour caravan.
Q. If afliate members (such as lenders and title companies) attend the caravan meeting and then go out on tour with the group, does that expose listing agents to liability? For instance, what if a lender learns something that the home owner really did not want their lender to learn?

We dont see any problem with having an afliate member join the MLS caravan, however it is up to each MLS to decide whether it will allow afliate members to attend. If there are material facts regarding property conditions that are relevant to prospective lenders, those facts must be disclosed to the new buyers and will come to the attention of the lender, in any case.
Q. Do sellers give their agent the authority to have anyone other than MLS participants hear comments on the tour that might otherwise be considered member remarks (not visible to the public) in the MLS system?

The sellers have given their agent permission to market the property, and the MLS tour is one way of marketing the property. Unless otherwise addressed in a listing agreement, sellers typically do not restrict the type of marketing that will be undertaken by the agent. Member remarks typically relate to the cooperative relationship between agents and not to the property itself. Afliate members should understand that if they do overhear anything of that nature on a tour, it is not intended for publication, but in terms of liability, we dont see any added risk to the listing agent.


NAR Establishes MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Subcommittee

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS board of directors acknowledged the growing complexity of MLS technology issues by creating an MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Subcommittee that will anticipate and analyze MLS technology issues. The subcommittee has a chair and 15 members, eight of whom are REALTORS with experience in governance or operation of a local or regional MLS, and the rest are MLS administrators or MLS technology or administrative staff. Among them are Carl DeMusz, RCE, CEO of the Northern Ohio Regional MLS; Merri Jo Cowen, RCE, ePRO, CEO of the My Florida Regional MLS; Shawn Dauphine, MLS director at the Houston Association of REALTORS; Jim Harrison, RCE, president and CEO of MLSListings, Calif.; and Rachel Wiest, RCE, vice president of operations for Triangle MLS, N.C. The work of the Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee has become increasingly difcult as the amount and complexity of technology involved in MLS and in real estate brokerage have grown. This subcommittee of technologists will provide a better view of how information moves in cyber-space and the effect of technologies on real estate transactions. This group is charged with developing timely, relevant proposals for optimizing the value of MLS for REALTORS and consumers for consideration by the MLS Committee and the NAR Board of Directors. Look for updates on their work here and online at

Historic REALTOR Rally Makes an Impact!

On May 17 nearly 14,000 REALTORS from all over the United States gathered at the base of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., to rally for the American Dream of home ownership. The goal was simple but important: Show the countrys leadership that Home Ownership Matters. Twelve members of Congress attended, including Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), both of whom spoke at the rally, and 29 media outlets, including CNN and CNBC, covered the event.

8th REALTOR Care Day Draws Record Participants

Nearly 450 Ohio REALTORS, family, and friends cleaned, painted, pruned, and planted in June as part of the Columbus Board of REALTORS eighth annual REALTOR Care Day, helping improve homes in 21 surrounding areas. Started in 2005, REALTOR Care Day is an annual day of service to the communities in which REALTORS live, work and raise families. For the main project this year, CBR partnered with Homeport to improve ve homes in a low-income subdivision. We cleaned, repaired, painted, landscaped, xed gutters, recarpeted porches, and installed a new shed, said Bob McCarthy, co-chair of the 2012 REALTOR Care Day committee. REALTOR Care Day is funded through the REALTORS Charitable Foundation Fund. Area realty associations are offered matching funds (up to $500 each) to help fund their community service efforts for this event. Additional assistance is received from many individuals and companies through in-kind donations of money, goods, and services. More than $33,000 was invested to accomplish the 34 projects around central Ohio.

Member Benets Go Video

The Wisconsin REALTORS Association rolled out a new 18-minute member benets video covering everything from advocacy to education. The video was produced and recorded internally, and the footage was captured at our own facility, says Rob Uhrina, vice president of marketing and communications. The budget was staff time, plus about $200 of stock footage. WRA posted the video on Facebook and YouTube, and Wisconsins local associations use the video during new member orientation. View at Center/WRA_Member_Benets_Video.



These 20 R EALTOR association executives earned their RCE (REALTOR association Certied Executive) designation after an extensive course of study and exam in March. RCE is the only professional designation created specically for REALTOR association executives. It exemplies goal-oriented AEs with drive, experience, and commitment to professional growth. Candidates earn the designation by accumulating points through an experience- and educationbased application form and a comprehensive written exam. For more on the RCE designation, visit

Meet the New RCEs

Marti Ackerman, RCE , Lakes County Association, Minn.

Marcia Bartol, RCE , Greater Bangor Association, Maine

Jean Beck, RCE , Hilton Head Area Association, S.C.

Steve Candler, RCE , Brunswick County Association, N.C.

Claudia Chappelle, RCE , Rhode Island Association

Isaac Chavez, RCE , Las Cruces Association, N.M.

Cynthia Cumbie, RCE , Brunswick County Association, N.C.

Carla Dane, RCE , Orange County Association, Calif.

Karen Dumond, RCE , Massachusetts Association

Cade Fowler, RCE , Lubbock Association, Texas

Chris Harrigan, RCE , National Association of R EALTORS , Ill.

Kathy Hayes, RCE , North Bay Association, Calif.

Shaun Jillions, RCE , Oregon Association

Pam MacConnell, RCE , West Volusia Association, Fla.

Richard Marshall, RCE , Prince William Association, Va.

Wil Riley, RCE , Charleston Trident Association, S.C.

Sharon Sample, RCE , Ashland Board, Ohio

Richard Stauffer, RCE , Hamptons North Fork R EALTORS , N.Y.

Jonathan Wallace, RCE , CAE , Oregon Association

Sandy Zigler, RCE , Atlanta Board, Ga.




By Tania Lee

Young Members Promote Political Involvement

The Young Professionals Network of the Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS proves that the industrys youngest members are not just about light-hearted happy hours:
They can take on serious issues, raise serious funds, and throw a seriously great party! In March, this YPN chapters RPAC fund-raiser at the prestigious Governors Mansion outside Nashville brought together REALTORS from across the state and raised more than $35,000. The YPN chose to host an RPAC fund-raiser because we believe in the REALTOR Party and what that represents in terms of protecting the real estate profession, says Andrew Terrell, 2012 GNAR YPN chair, and we want the entire real estate community to know that we are committed to all that it means to be real estate professionals.

How to Get an RPAC Fund-Raising Event Grant

RPAC Fund-raising Event Grants of up to $5,000 help state and local associations increase their RPAC fund-raising receipts and RPAC participation. Although participation in the program is subject to your states law, approved grants may be used on events and items, such as fund-raising videos; major investor development; and/or RPAC messaging for new member orientations.

By scheduling the fund-raiser to coincide with the Tennessee Association of REALTORS Spring Conference and securing support from NAR within 48 hours of requesting funding, GNAR ensured early on that the event would be well supported, and well attended. NARs quick and generous response [also] sent a really strong message of support, says GNAR Chief Executive Ofcer Don Klein (see sidebar for how to apply for fund-raising grants). The Tennessee RPAC stepped up to fund much of the event, which was pretty straightforward. However, certain state regulations prohibiting NAR from contributing directly to the state or local association necessitated some creative thinking. They didnt say too bad, so sad, explains Klein. They said OK, we cant write a check to the state or local association for this. What else can we do? Ultimately, NAR wrote a check for $2,100 directly to the catering company, and sent ribbons, balloons, and printed material to make the event especially festive and informative.


Cynthia Shelton, NAR RPAC liaison, was amazed

by the phenomenal enthusiasm the event generated, which was channeled into real support. These young people absolutely get the importance of RPAC. But we also wanted to convey that the more involved they become, and the higher they raise their prole in the community and the industry, the more likely the rest of us will call them with referrals, Shelton explains. In short, the message to young professionals is: Come to these fun eventsand boost your own bottom line. The allure of a networking opportunity isnt the only reason young professionals were drawn to the event. As NAR Region 4 Vice President Milton Shockley of Greenville, S.C., concedes, It may be just a little easier to generate this kind of enthusiasm in an election year. Regardless of whether that was the reason these young folks were so fired up, Shockley remarks, it was Attendees at the GNAR YPN RPAC fund-raiser. great for those of us already involved in RPAC to see the excitement of the up-andTo receive a grant coming generation. you must commit to Brian Copeland, a Nashville native and the 2011 forwarding 30 percent national YPN chair, applied a certain amount of of all RPAC funds raised friendly peer pressure at the event, calling out his through this year to youthful colleagues by name, noting, I know the marNational RPAC. To apply, kets tough, but I also know you just closed a deal and go to realtoractioncenter have a sizeable commission coming in. .com/for-associations When the proverbial dust had cleared, the event and click RPAC raised more than $25,000, with an additional $10,000 Services for more grant or more received in pledges that evening. GNAR, requirements, criteria, and YPN, and RPAC are already planning to replicate this applications. Questions? great Tennessee success on an annual basis. Who says Call 202-383-1191. youth is wasted on the young?

By Carolyn Schwaar


REALTOR association leadership trainers share their expertise and experience in teaching others to how to lead.

The national REALTOR Leadership Program,* launched just a year ago, has already produced dozens of dedicated, motivated, and prepared volunteer leaders. The leadership experts chosen (and trained) to conduct the program at state and local associations and national meetings have learned a lot, too. Here they share their views on what it takes to be a great volunteer leader today and what types of leaders are needed to guide the REALTOR organization into the future.

The most important leadership quality: vision

I believe that leadership qualities, such as empathy, fairness, and exibility, are absolutely essential for leaders, but by far the most important is vision. These qualities, in my opinion, make up about 80 percent of whats needed to be a good leader. Certainly knowing what to do and understanding structure, roles, etc., are important, but these things can be learned. Thats why people study leadership through training, courses, and books, so that they can learn the skills needed to be leaders. But its awfully hard to learn (and teach) vision, empathy, and exibility. My best leaders over 31 years in association management have been those who have a vision but are exible enough to change when needed, and they treat others with kindness, fairness, and empathythey are mentors. Diane Ruggiero

Why people will follow you

A soldier doesnt want to follow a leader who cant read a map, but the hard skills arent enough. If they were, West Point would simply teach strategy and tactics, not leadership. There should be a rough balance, but in my view, the softer skills are more important in a volunteer leader. If the practical side strongly dominates, it can lead to micromanagement and burnout if the leaders feel they have to know and do everything. So, although a volunteer leader should have at least a basic understanding of relationships within the organization, the structure, and the issues, thats not why people will follow. They will follow you because they believe in you. Truly great leaders dont just understand the process, they understand people. Steve Francks

Todays leaders must be bold

The key qualities volunteers need to fulll the expectations of the REALTOR organization in 2012 and beyond are different than in the past. Years ago, organized real estate was like a social club. Members volunteered because they could network and interact with their REALTOR friends. Big decisions were not controversial or life-changing for the members. Today, thats not the case. Associations make huge strategic decisions every day that can affect members businesses, so leaders have to have the courage to make them. And the pace of the decision-making process has changed dramatically. For example, if a key political issue comes up, an association may have hours to act. Theres no time for work groups or extensive committee research. Today, its all about empowerment. Leaders and staff need to be empowered to act and act quickly if necessary. Keith Holm

* The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS REALTOR Leadership Program (RLP) is described on p. 6 or visit

If it aint broke . . . Listening as a leadership style

I once had a leadership course participant who was very quiet and subdued. I wasnt sure if he was bored or just uninvolved. After a few hours giving no real response, he nally offered some input on a question of how to solve a problem that was brewing in another participants association. His suggestion was absolutely astounding and spot on. After class I thanked him for his input and I asked, Why were you so quiet throughout most of the class? He responded, Well, I guess my style is to listen to others, and if I dont have anything new to add, or anything to add thats going to change the course of the conversation, I just save my breath. I loved that response and I love those quiet leaders who dont feel they have to respond to every comment thats made in a meeting. When those types of leaders nally do speak up, everyone takes notice and listens. I nd thats a wonderful leadership quality. Diane Ruggiero Many leaders come to their position wanting to x what they perceive is broken rather than working with the other members of the leadership team to allocate available resources in a way that ensures that members receive the support that they need to provide their clients with high-quality service. Roger Turcotte

Pick whats important and make it happen

Todays leaders, who are far more timechallenged than leaders 20 or more years ago, must be more focused and amenable to change. They must be willing to see options and adjust because so many more options are available today. And the time factor makes priorities ever changing. Todays leaders must be ready to pick whats important quickly and be ready to do whats necessary to reach their goals on a much more accelerated pace than in the past. Yet, most REALTOR associations are still doing things the way they used to, which means slowly. Alice and Don Martin

Leading with the heart and the head

Outstanding leaders are a combination of skills and qualities where all essential components and aspects are balanced. These leaders are people who rise to the occasion in times of adversity and mobilize their team toward a common envisioned goal, working in concert with their CEO. When the skills and qualities are skewed or out of balance, so are the leadership outcomes. For example, a leader with condence and enthusiasm but no understanding of structure or roles can quickly lose the respect of the rest of a team that possesses an understanding of the mechanics. Adorna Carroll

Vision but no crystal ball required

Today, REALTOR leaders must focus on the mission of their organization and study the environment in which their members work. Dening future opportunities, as well as possible threats that will affect their members, and determining how best to respond to these factors, is a critical part of a leaders job. This is an extremely difcult challenge for a volunteer leader because he or she must have the skills to dene the change that is required, develop a plan to implement the change, and inuence members to accept and benet from the change. Roger Turcotte

Leaders born, and made

Training volunteer leaders is the best way to both accomplish signicant strategic goals, and also to foster more leaders. We can learn a lot from the for-prot sector where 85 percent of the top 20 companies in the U.S. engage their leaders and directors in leadership training. Volunteers with opportunities to hone their business, communications, and interactive skills are the ones who will benet their association, as well as work on their professional development in their own business. Melynn Sight

First, you have to believe

Today leaders need exibility and the desire to help others look good, but mostly a strong belief that organized real estate offers real benets to our members. A good leader today will also need to nd ways to get people excited to volunteer for a specic event or task, not just serve on a committee. Suzanne Yost

The most important leadership quality: ability to listen

Leadership qualities and skills are far more important overall than understanding the association structural issues, such as jobdening duties, roles, and responsibilities. A key quality for effective leaders is the ability to listen. Members feel a lot better about decisions made when they feel their opinion was heard and appreciated. Keith Holm

Successful practitioners make successful volunteers

The key quality todays volunteers need is the ability to understand technology and its impact on their business, on the association and the MLS; and, most important, on consumers. The best leaders are successful in their business and can bring those business leadership skills to the table for our organizations. Diane Ruggiero

Learn to delegate
Most leaders either dont know how to delegate or dont understand the need for doing so. This leads to members refusing to volunteer because it becomes apparent that the leadership team wants to control the decision-making authority. Roger Turcotte



With great power comes great responsibility Self-defeating traits of REALTOR volunteer leadership
The fear of change is the largest stumbling block to effective leadership. Leaders have to be open to new ideas and new ways to get things done. They need to have a great partnership between volunteer leaders and professional staff. And both volunteers and staff need to be on the same page when key decisions are made. A little historical perspective on a committee or on the board of directors is a good thing. But when an organization refuses to move forward out of fear of change, its time to look for new leadership. And dont be afraid to make a mistake. Not everything will work out as planned, but thats okay. Members have a much higher respect for organizations that are looking out for their interests and are willing to take some risk now and then. Keith Holm Volunteer leaders fail when they try to change too much about an organization, because most associations need only small changes that can make a big difference to the membership. I also see problems when volunteers dont value the staff or think they have more control over staff than they are entitled to. Suzanne Yost

CONTRIBUTING LEADERSHIP TRAINERS Adorna Carroll is broker-owner of Realty3 of Connecticut and president of Dynamic Directions, an international sales training consulting rm. Steve Francks, RCE, CAE, is CEO of the Washington Association of REALTORS. Keith Holm, RCE, served as CEO of the St. Paul Area Association of REALTORS, Minnesota for more than 30 years. Alice and Don Martin are REALTOR association leadership and strategic planning consultants (Martinconsultingsolutions. org). Alice is the former vice president of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Association Leadership Development department. Don is a real estate broker and past REALTOR association president. Diane Ruggiero, RCE, CAE, has been CEO of the Kansas City Regional Association of REALTORS for ten years and has spent 30 years managing REALTOR associations. Roger Turcotte, GRI, is an author and speaker on real estate education and leadership. He has been recognized as Educator of the Year by the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS. Melynn Sight is founder and president of nSight Marketing in Kansas City. She works with associations and their members in all aspects of communications. Suzanne Yost has been a REALTOR for 31 years and is the 2012 president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS, Calif.

The most important leadership quality: courage

Todays leaders require more than just vision, outside perspective, and the mechanics of how to lead. What they require most is the courage to lead a group toward a horizon line where the industry landscape may be not only dramatically different but also outside the comfort zone of most volunteers because it challenges perceptions of what they have always done before. Reinvention, adaptability, and uid decision-making are essential, and many groups are not congured to meet that challenge. Adorna Carroll

Its not about your legacy

The biggest mistake I see in aspiring leaders is when they think they need to leave a legacy or their mark on the organizations they lead. Great leaders naturally leave their mark; they dont have to have a special project, service, or program in mind as they come up through the leadership ranks. If they think its about what they will leave behind instead of whats good for the entire organization and its members, then its a recipe for disaster at worst and failure at best. Diane Ruggiero

Mastering technology is a must

The REALTOR organization and the industry have become more complex than ever, with new technology, new programs and initiatives, and more regulation at every level of government. With so much going on, theres always a new bright, shiny object coming along that can distract the organization from its priorities. So I think great REALTOR leaders today must have the ability to focus their personal attention on a few key issues and to move them forward. Basically, you have to keep your eyes on the prize. Steve Francks

Eureka, hes got it!

A young leader shared with me that he had always admired a particular person in his association who had been a REALTOR leader for many years at all levels of the organization. After attending the RLP course, however, he realized that what he admired was the importance of the positions that this individual had held rather than the persons ability to lead. The young leader said, What I have learned today is that its really about how much my members get and not so much about what I get. Roger Turcotte

The incomplete leader

Unfortunately, many leaders do not understand the role of a leader. Leaders can move in the wrong direction, but do so with incredible condence that they are doing the right thing. I often encounter a leader doing what he or she thinks is best for an organization without paying attention to the strategic plan or without getting appropriate input from the members. On the other hand, its very common to see a leader who understands his or her role but lacks one or more of the leadership qualities (such as empathy or backbone) that are required for a volunteer leader to be effective. Roger Turcotte



By Carolyn Schwaar

Presidents with Zeal

Association executives and elected leaders work together to build members business success, advance association objectives, and inspire members to participate. Association leadership is, after all, a partnership. Here REALTOR AE features four outstanding association volunteers who are working with passion and enthusiasm for the REALTOR mission.

Leadership by Example
ur association is only as good as the effort we put into it, says Chris Jett, 2012 president of the Coastal Association of R EALTORS , Md., who has spent his presidency trying to lead by example. Maintaining his spot among the top 2 percent of local sales people while volunteering for the local and state REALTOR associations, for local charities, and as a kids sport coach, Jett demonstrates his resolve to give back everywhere hes needed. Its been difficult in this market to get people involved, says Jett, who hopes his visibility inspires others to volunteer. Its important to have a face in the com-

Technology Optimism
f, at the end of the day, I havent helped members in their business, then I didnt do my job as a volunteer, says Holly Mabery, 2012 president of the Arizona Association of REALTORS . And its through technology that Mabery says associations can best help members today. Members need quality technology from associations to make the transaction smoother, communicate, and make the connection with consumers, says Mabery. Arizona is the only state that boasts a statewide transaction management program and is finalizing an online one-stop shop that will combine access to a wide variety of tools, forms, data, and listing information. Showing members what tools we offer to help them out of the crazy downturn is one of my priorities this year. As a young, tech-savvy leader, Mabery is not only an advocate for technology but an enthusiastic user. For example, when the association recently launched a new e-signature member benefit, Mabery tested the product extensively so that she could be sure it was the best option for the association and so that she could speak with authority about it to members once available, says Tom Farley, the associations CEO. Communication via social media is another strength of this energetic leader. By constantly engaging on social media, I find Im reaching

munity, not only for my business, but for the R EALTOR association. As an advocate for the associations programs and products, Jett has boosted communication via technology and devoted time to meeting with members in person to drive home how R EALTORS benefit from their association. His priorities have been establishing more usable data products for members and launching data sharing with neighboring MLSs. I have told Chris many times, he is the right person at the right time for our organization, says Sheila Dodson, the associations CEO. He exemplifies doing it all while keeping his priorities straight and always presenting a calm, cool approach. Jett says hes a firm believer in following the procedures and processes involved in volunteer leadership, ensuring that issues are pushed through the proper channels and addressed by the entire leadership team without hidden agendas. One of my strategies was to really focus on our strategic plan, he says. Too many times the objectives kept rolling into the next year. Tough decisions needed to be made to keep our association relevant.

agents on different levels and they know that Im here to help, Mabery says. This is especially important when it comes to the younger generation, like the states YPN group. Launched this year, the group has been fairly energized, but theyre more engaged online than they are in actual meetings, notes Mabery. Seeing the dynamic engagement of members on the Arizona R EALTORS Twitter feed and Facebook page, and the valuable information exchanged, Mabery decided to launch a Facebook group just for the states local association volunteer presidents and another for the 2012 president-elects where they discuss news, issues, and calls to action. There is no better job, says Mabery, and I get to remind people about that every day.


REALTOR AE Summer 2012

Presidents with Zeal

Raise the Bar for Membership Motivation

ncouraging members to participate in the association when the market is booming is difficult; inspiring them to participate during a slowdown is even harder. But at the Greater Louisville Association of R EALTORS , one volunteer leader set out to prove that association involvement is the path to business and personal success for area REALTORS . Strong leadership during tough times is critical, says GLAR 2011 President Lamont Breland. Leadership starts by building relationships, and that starts with involvement. Brelands mission to inspire involvement began by getting involved. I showed up, he says, to committee meetings, community events, chamber of commerce, KAR events, NAR events. I wanted to be visibleI even joined the Womens Council of R EALTORS . Breland is also very active in GLARs community service projects, including helping to organize a golf outing that raised $9,000 in its first year for local charities, putting in sweat equity hours renovating donated homes for the Fuller Center for Housing, and serving ice cream at the ice cream social for St. Johns Center for the Homeless. Behind the associations culture of involvement was the idea that members could thrive through the downturn only if they contributed their energy and new ideas to association programs and services. The message was always be positive, says Breland. Times are tough, were all in this together; we need each other. So

Advocate for Engagement

teve Banks, the 2012 president of the Kansas City Regional Association of R EALTORS , is very comfortable engaging his legislators, which accounts for a large part of the associations success this year defeating antihome-ownership legislation. In fact, Banks is a strong supporter of the REALTOR Party and shares this message with members in monthly articles in the association publication and at events. He encourages members to become more knowledgeable about the legislative issues impacting home ownershipand to participate in each Call to Action and contribute to RPAC to support these efforts, says Diane Ruggiero, the associations CEO. But it isnt just Banks personal and professional interest in political affairs affecting his community that drives him; its the long tradition of involvement at the association, he says. Ive always felt that our members see political involvement as the biggest member benefit the association provides. They see it as something the association can do for them that they could never do for themselves. And what the members think is important, is important to me.
18 REALTOR AE Summer 2012

So far this year, Banks push for political engagement and fundraising has resulted in new major donors and more Presidents Circle members. Hes particularly excited about the involvement of YPNers in RPAC, though. When I took a few minutes at a YPN chapter gathering to introduce them to RPAC and why they should become involved, it went really well. It sparked a sort of resolve that we see in YPNers that makes the leaders of tomorrow. Banks takes every opportunity to communicate political involvement to members. He actively encourages members (of all ages and experience) to get involved, because he realizes that the strength of the association depends on strong leadership year after year, says Ruggiero. As the associations spokesperson, that message of a need for perpetual strength is one Banks delivers to members at new member orientations, events, online, on video and in person. I invite people personally to give to RPAC, attend events and be involved in a committee, says Banks. This type of personal invitation is how I became involved 19 years ago, so I know it works.

next time youre asked for feedback, a call-back, or just a pat on the back, help a brother or sister out, because what goes around comes around! Lisa Stephenson, the associations CEO, says Breland is charismatic, full of innovative ideas, and gets people excited about the projects they are working on. One project he implemented was the Pay It Forward initiative. This was a simple idea to tape 15 envelopes under chairs at the annual meeting, each with a $100 bill and ideas on how to help others with it. Breland also started a YPN chapter to stimulate younger member involvement, taped several inspirational presidential podcasts, and spoke at every new-member orientation. He encouraged all leaders and active members to be intentional, just like they are in their real estate practice, when it comes to selling other members on the value of their membership. The theme during his presidential year was Raise the BarReap the Rewards, and a new award was created that let REALTORS nominate a fellow R EALTOR who had gone above and beyond in exemplary and outstanding service. These Raise the Bar Award recipients were honored at the annual meeting and showcased in the newsletter to the membership. At his inauguration, Breland offered this fitting quote: Service is the rent we pay for living; its not something we choose to do when we have time. These are words wed all do well to rememberwhen motivating ourselves, and inspiring those we lead.

Tips for Handling Unhappy Members
thought to myself that this would be a good day to work through the stack of papers on my desk. Instead, I spent the morning listening to a member so angry I thought his eyeballs would melt, then troubleshooting with staff to nd a remedy, and nally closing the loop with his managing broker and leadership. For a people pleaser like me, the rst question that comes to mind in the aftermath of an enragedmember encounter is: Is it me? Is there something I could have done that could have prevented this members ash point? In this instance, probably not. The member had paid his dues late and was issued a $50 ne that he simply didnt want to pay. In better economic times, I wouldnt have heard from him, but since the member hadnt sold a house in six months, the resulting nancial pinch made this ne worth arguing over. Flash points occur with some regularity in all work environments, says Terri Fairchild of Fairchild Business Coaching. We can employ strategies that minimize the number of instances, but they will come, and when they do, we need to know how to respondwhich is the key to our success. That is, we have the response-ability to respond in a levelheaded manner. This isnt always easy, but we can improve our success rate if we have a practical plan in mind. Many times a wonderful source of the practical comes from direct experiences in the eld. When I receive a call from an upset member, I close my door and settle in to do one thing: listen, says Mark Stallmann, CEO of the St. Charles County Association of REALTORS, Mo. Ive tried several approaches in the past, but after being in the industry for several decades, listening empathetically seems to be the shortest route to a calm ending. It doesnt always work, but Id say Ive had an 80 percent success rate, and that works for me. Following such a call, Stallmann sends a conrming e-mail to

The phone on my desk beeped. Youve got a call on line one, said Meghan, my receptionist. Its a member and hes not happy. It hadnt been ve minutes since Id walked in the door, sat down, and
the upset member, making sure she knows that he heard her, thereby validating her viewpoint. If its an issue that requires action, Ill also let her know that well work through the process to address her concerns, he adds. Depending on the situation, Ill let the managing broker know about the conversation so he isnt blindsided and to let him know that the association is engaged and responsive. If instances of ash points were limited to oneoff calls, Stallmanns advice would take care of every need. What should we do if a member begins a negative campaign? Or, worse yet, if weve got a difcult leader? On several occasions, Ive had to deal with the next level of negativity, says Isaac Chavez, CEO of the Vermont Association of REALTORS. Once Ive listened to a member and tried to assuage his concerns, sometimes its not enough for him and I can tell hes going start a re of discontent in his ofce. In those instances, I will immediately call the president and brief her on the matter, get her advice, and then contact the members managing broker to quench as much of the heat as possible. Chavez has found that widening the circle of support strengthens his position. REALTORS know REALTORS, so including people who are leaders in the complainers circle of inuence can go a long way in dampening efforts to cause community distress. Several years ago, Joe Adams*, an AE from an association in California, was forced to grapple with the highest level of difculty on the scale of association conict issues: a negative leader. For some reason, the new president and I didnt mesh, recalls Adams. I tried every encouraging Steven CoveyDale Carnegie principle I could muster, and nothing worked. At each meeting, this person was front-andcenter disagreeing with me, calling me into question at every turnit was horrible. Thankfully, several of

Shane Johnson is CEO of the Quad City Area REALTOR Association, Bettendorf, Iowa. He can be reached at 563-355-6655 or

I tried every encouraging Steven CoveyDale Carnegie principle I could muster, and nothing worked.
an AE to remain anonymous


Ms. Were-all-doomed-anyway.
Optimism in challenging times can be difcult to muster, but members who feel powerless, cynical, or disappointed complain often and can drag down entire groups and even kill projects. Accept pessimism while projecting optimism. Listen carefully and summarize whats said, then ask for solutions, to encourage positive engagement.

them with respect and kindness just as youd treat anyone else.

Ms. I-dont-have-time-for-this.
Impatient people are often afraid that time might run out before they get to explain what they want. They can pressure staff to make mistakes. Ask them to slow down and repeat themselves. Remind them that theres plenty of time to do whatever is needed.

or taking on their responsibilities. Dont fall for their endless crises and apparent bad luck; hold them accountable. Help them see their role in a problem theyre having.

Ms. Do-you-know-who-Iam? Arrogant people can be very

defensive and critical of others. Often this is to mask deeper feelings of insecurity. To service them, never criticize without rst offering praise. Dont surprise them. Be warm and friendly even when they seem aloof. Help them feel connected to others, the group, the team, etc.

by being abusive and intimidating. They value high levels of selfcondence and aggressiveness and demean those who dont possess these qualities. Stand up to them without ghting by assertively expressing your opinion (In my opinion, youre wrong.), but dont allow a ght to escalate.

Mr. I-wont-change-my-mind.
Stubborn people resist changes that threaten their sense of security. They become roadblocks to progress and grow even more difcult when pressured. Give stubborn people extra time to adjust to change. Give them options and choices, and be casual in your approach.

Mr. Nothings-ever-enough.
If you encounter people who keep asking for moremore time, more money, more recognition, more attentionset rm limits in writing. Say no, if appropriate. Make them follow the usual procedures but treat

Mr. Im-the-victim-here. Staff

may want to sympathize with members who portray themselves as victims. Those members complain a lot and manipulate others into feeling sorry for them

Mrs. Youll-fix-this-or-else.
Hostile members tend to bully staff

our leaders were levelheaded, so rather than meeting alone with the president, as Id traditionally done, I began to meet with the three ofcers. The inclusion of peer leaders forced the president to modulate his approach, and things settled for the rest of the year. As a result, whenever conict arises with members, I try to keep another leader between me and the member, and it helps keep me out of the crosshairs. Remember, no matter how much we aim to please, difcult people and difcult situations will make their way into our lives. Effective leaders are able to avoid confrontation, primarily by listen-

ing, and then using the effective communication skills that landed them the job in the rst place to facilitate an ongoing dialogue until resolution is achieved, says Fairchild. No doubt the economic sentence our members are being required to serve will continue to place a high level of stress on many of them for years to come. Rather than return the blows, let us instead lead through difcult episodes by employing the response-ability that resides in each of us to navigate to a positive result. *name changed to protect anonymity

Effective leaders are able to avoid confrontation, primarily by listening.

Terri Fairchild, Fairchild Business Coaching


Small Board
Friends in Leadership
into too close for comfort if youre not careful. In small associations, members likely know their volunteer leaders personally, which helps build the relationship and trust between leaders and members. Many of our members know each other and so they are comfortable with elected leaders because they are likely someone members know, says Nancy Deichert, AE of the 311-member Bismarck Mandan Board of REALTORS, N.D. This holds true for the association executive and leadership as well. We know the leadership and talk to them regularly, and we end up knowing about their spouses, children, life events, and so on. Knowing about their lives helps to build a positive relationship with them. Leaders can be a part of your life for years and years.

Sometimes its great to be where everybody knows your name, but for some small associations, the cozy dynamic between volunteer leaders and association staff can veer
Friendly is good, but too friendly can create a perception of favoritism. I think small boards benet because you can have a closer relationship with your leadership, but that can be a double-edged sword because people always think you play favorites, says Csehoski. Its important to be clear that decisions are always based on the associations policies and rules.

Amy DuBose, RCE, e-PRO, is the association executive with the San Marcos Area Board of REALTORS, Texas. She can be reached at 512-396-5478 or


Claims of favoritism are one thing, but another problem that pops up at small boards is the urge some leadersboth current and pasthave to micromanage the association staff. A clear job description for both roles can alleviate this problem, and ensure a clear line of distinction between volunteer duties and AE and other staff obligations. Looking over NARs roles and responsibilities guide with your incoming leaders helps to set and manage expectations. If there is a disagreement about your roles, you can then reference your bylaws or bring it to your board of directors for review. Building a solid foundation, which starts with your leadership team, helps everyone make strides in a positive direction. The members will see how well this relationship works and theyll want to be a part of it. Ultimately, by striking a balance between being friendly and being too friendly, maintaining mutual respect, and clearly dening responsibilities, you can ensure a fruitful relationship between volunteer leaders and association staff at small boards.

Small board leaders bring more of their personality to the job, and because the relationship between volunteer leaders and their AE is more personal at a small board than at a large one, business as usual doesnt apply year after year. Della Csehoski, AE with the 176-member Cambria Somerset Association of REALTORS, Pa., advises, As an AE, be ready to adapt to your presidents style of communication and management. Another way to help build this relationship is to show mutual respect. Neither of you got to your current position without a great deal of knowledge and skill, explains Csehoski. Share that and work together. You may discover someone you really like and deeply respect.

5 Common Pitfalls of Workplace Friendships

1. Drawing inadequate boundaries. Revealing too much personal information about yourself can greatly damage your professional identity. 2. Creating an allfor-one partnership. Dont allow a great working relationship to cloud your opportunity to shine as an individual.

3. Overindulging in gossip. Although occasional gossip happens, too much can ruin your trustworthiness.

4. Letting work friends be your only circle. Outside friends might not understand your work, but theyre a necessary stress relief.

5. Expecting special
consideration. You and your leaders are expected to follow the same procedures and rules as everyone else.

Adapted from The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing, and Keeping Up with Your Friends, by Andrea Bonior. 22 REALTOR AE SUMMER 2012

HR Connection
It has been four years since I wrote an article here regarding how to prepare for reductions in staff. My hope at that time was that AE requests to my ofce for guidance on layoffs wouldnt be needed
later. Unfortunately, thats not the case. Although the real estate industry is in a slow but steady climb in parts of the country, other areas are still struggling to recover. Associations are still looking for ways to reduce costs, which for some means staff cuts. Even though your largest operating expense staffmay seem like the best place to start trimming, there are many strategies for cutting your budget before turning to layoffs (see sidebar, p.25). Also, know that you can downsize your payroll and keep all of your employees by instituting creative stafng solutions, such as four-day workweeks, job sharing and part-time positions, or even unpaid vacations for months at a time. You may be surprised by how many staffers would like to work less or take six months to travel or pursue an educational opportunity (knowing their job would be there when they returned from leave). In addition, when a staff person resigns voluntarily, determine whether you can eliminate his or her position by delegating duties. Should you nd yourself in the unenviable position of handing out the proverbial pink slips, here are some guidelines to help you through the process.

The Lowdown on Layoffs

Identify what type of benets you will provide to terminated employees, such as severance, outplacement assistance, or continuation of medical coverage. Check your retirement plan and health insurance coverage provisions to determine what type of benet continuation is allowed and for how long.

Donna Garcia is director of Human Resource Services for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS in Chicago. She can be reached at 312-329-8311 or


Prior to any terminations, seek outside counsel that specializes in employee relationsin particular, reductions in force. Your lawyer can help you assess whether your criteria are valid, determine whether your termination selections may have a disparate impact on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, and develop the proper employment releases.


Your association attorney is your best resource for knowing state employment laws and developing an employee release. At a minimum, the release informs the employee of the nancial considerations he or she will receive, conrms that the employee will not disclose proprietary association information, and identies what type of benets you will provide and when they will end. Most important, a valid release can signicantly reduce claims of discrimination. If the terminated employee is age 40 or older, the release must also comply with the provisions of the Older Workers Benet Protection Act (more info at owbpa.html). Keep in mind that a valid release does not preclude an employee from ling a lawsuit, for which an employer will incur attorneys fees even if the case is dismissed.

Although reductions in force can be very difficult, they can be less painful for you, your laid-off employees, and your remaining staff if planned, executed, and communicated properly.


Dene termination criteria up front to limit your liability regarding age and other types of discrimination. For example, will you consider job functions, seniority, poor performance, or a combination thereof? If you decide to lay off the poorest performers, be sure to base your decisions on current documentation of the employees performance. Ultimately, the decision should rest with the AE and his or her senior staff, not elected leaders. Before selecting employees to lay off, review your list to determine whether there is disparate impact. For example, will more minorities be impacted than nonminorities? Does your list consist of mostly employees who are age 40 or older? If so, ensure that you could justify to a court that your decisions were based on business necessity rather than race, age, or other legally protected categories.


The best thing you can do for the employees affected is to provide them with all the information they need to move forward. Although you dont want to be inconsiderate, try to be as brief as possible. Be-

Wait, before you cut staff!

Conducting layoffs is a difcult task. However, knowing that you have eliminated all other options before doing so will help staff to better understand its necessity. Have you considered renegotiating vendor contracts, cutting back on travel, jettisoning expensive or little used programs, streamlining your operations, partnering with other associations, recycling, putting off new equipment purchases, raising dues or fees, charging fees for some services, renting unused space, signing up more afliate members, selling services or education to consumers, or renting your mailing list? For more ideas, see REALTOR AE magazines Ultimate Nondues Revenue Guide online at pages/nonduesrevenue guidewi12.

19 percent of REALTOR associations expect to cut staff in 2012.

REALTOR Association 2012 Outlook Survey

fore meeting with these employees, develop a script or checklist of items so you can ensure that each employee receives the same information. For example, you can tell them the reason for the layoff and what benets you will provide. Check your states unemployment compensation laws to inform your employees when they will be eligible to le for benets. Let the employee know what your policy is on reference checks. Typically, employers will verify only titles and dates of employment. Salary information should be disclosed only if you receive signed authorization from the former employee to release such information. Finally, youll need to obtain any company property in the employees possession. Regardless of your feelings toward an employee, resist the temptation to promise to rehire when conditions permit.

every effort was made to save their jobs. Should you decide to create new positions soon after the layoffs, be sure that they are substantially different from the positions you recently eliminated. Otherwise, former employees may think that there were discriminatory, rather than business, reasons for their termination. Although reductions in force can be very difcult, they can be less painful for you, your laid-off employees, and your remaining staff if planned, executed, and communicated properly.


Check your retirement plan provisions (contributions to employees 401(k), SEP, pension plans). Are they written with the option to reduce employer contributions due to nancial hardship? If not, this is one provision you might want to add. Contact your legal counsel to prepare the proper documentation and to ensure that the plan documents are led with the IRS. Certain time frames must be met for plan amendments to be led properly. Associations may also consider introducing or increasing employee contributions to their insurance plans, such as copays, deductibles, or out-of-pocket limits.


Open communication with the remaining staff is critical not only to your associations success but also to its reputation. Inform staff that every effort will be made to continue operations at current capacity. Share with everyone your operational plan, including other reductions that were made and expenses that were saved, so they understand that

Law & Policy

The ability to cut and paste is all people need to violate copyright law. A graph on home sales cut from an online newspaper pasted into a members blog postpotential copyright violation. A photo of an
elementary school cut from the towns Web site and pasted into an MLS listingpotential copyright violation. Managing the risk of operating Web sites that allow third parties to display content requires not only sound business skills but also knowledge of the special laws that govern the application of liability to the operators of such sites. There are two laws at the federal level (in addition to your state laws), one related to liability for defamation (the Communications Decency Act or CDA) and one concerning liability for copyright infringement (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA). Here we address how the latter affects your association and MLS Web site practices. know that the photos were not taken by the participant but instead were found on the Internet. A photographer then contacts the multiple listing service claiming ownership of the photographs and demands payment.

Do You Understand Online Copyright Law?

Mike Thiel is associate counsel of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. Contact him at 312-329-6400 or


Unlike the CDA, which provides its protection based upon the role of the site operator as a passive Web site host who played no role in selecting the content, the DMCA is a safe harbor that requires the site meet certain conditions to receive the benet of its protection. There are ve requirements to qualify for this safe harbor. The site operator (i) does not have actual knowledge of the infringing content; (ii) is not aware of facts or circumstances from which infringement is apparent; (iii) does not receive a nancial benet directly attributable to the infringing activity; (iv) acts expeditiously to remove the infringing content when notied; and (v) has provided a means for receiving notice of the infringing content. If these conditions are met, the DMCA allows the Web site operators to avoid liability for copyright infringements when someone else has posted content to their site.

Associations and MLSs dont escape liability for copyright infringement just because a member posted the item.
The DMCA allows the Web site operator to avoid liability for copyright infringements created by others who post content to the site. For example, association sites that offer blogs or other social media platforms on which members and others can contribute content can avoid liability for anything posted by visitors. Likewise, in the case of multiple listing service sites, the MLS operating the site can avoid copyright liability for photos provided by participants and subscribers. Consider, for example, this scenario: A listing includes a photograph of community features (shopping mall, schools, etc.) near the property being offered for sale. The multiple listing service doesnt


The fth requirement is the critical step not to overlook. Although your Web site may provide a means of contacting you, the operator, that is not sufcient to achieve the safe harbor protection. The DMCA requires that the site operator register the designated agent who is to receive notice from copyright owners of any alleged infringement. In a sort of believe it or not situation, the only way to actually register this designated agent for the Web site is to le a paper form that has to be mailed (not e-mailed) to the U.S. Copyright Ofce along with the required fee.

Can I Post That Online?

Associations are constantly looking for fresh material, usually news items, to post on their blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds, so reposting news or videos from other online sources is common. To avoid infringing on a media outlets copyright, post only a link to a news article or video that directs readers back to the source site. Fortunately, today many media outlets promote the sharing of their material via Facebook, Twitter, or other places online with a share button on their sites that typically includes a graphic or video still and description to grab visitors attention. Dont interpret the invitation to share as a green light to repost a news story or video in its entirety. Even the shortest excerpts from articles could open up your organization to a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Photos, videos, graphics, and other works dont have to be marked as copyrighted to be protected.
The information is then manually entered into a list maintained by the Copyright Ofce. Late last year the Copyright Ofce nally requested comment on a new rule that would convert to an electronic system to submit this information, but that system is not yet in place. Instructions for identifying a designated agent and a list of designated agents are found on the Copyright Ofce Web site ( onlinesp/). In addition to registering your designated agent, site operators will typically include the information on their designated agent in either the sites terms of use or in a special section on copyright or legal terms. On the national associations site, for example, the information is found in the terms of use (, along with the information the claimant should provide when identifying the allegedly infringing content. Sometimes avoiding the entanglements that can arise from litigation, even well-founded litigation, can be as simple as knowing your rights under the law. So here is another case of what you dont know can hurt you.

AE Profile
Courage to Change
the president and CEO of the North Shore-Barrington Association of REALTORS in Illinois. Penza is the 2012 recipient of the William R. Magel Award for excellence in REALTOR association management, in part for how she leads her association on a continuous adventure, keeping pace with changes in the industry. The real estate business is still changing rapidly, says Penza. Now is the perfect time for members to incorporate new business ventures, so associations must be cognitive and nd ways to assist or inform. Associations must make adjustments to t the needs of todays real estate professional. One way NSBAR accomplishes this is with its advanced technology outreach and consulting service that ensures members have training and advice on the latest technology. Members can call for guidance on purchasing, repairing, and learning nearly any technology, explains Penza. We struggle to break even with this service, but many REALTORS says theyre members because of it. Even in todays economic climate, NSBAR adapted quickly to stay relevant to members changing business needs. We did not panic, notes Penza, regarding the housing slump and recession. We solved challenges through brain power and creativity and did not just throw money at problems. We were empathic enough to understand the needs of the members. For example, the association launched 32 free member appreciation classes developed and taught by staff, ranging from iPad/iPhone how-tos, to courses on composting, social media, and self-defense. Arming members, both brokers and their agents, with the information they need to manage change is another way Penza keeps her organization invalu-

Terry Penza is an adventurer. From hot-air ballooning to world travel, Penza has a desire to experience something new, take chances, and seek out opportunities to learn. That also applies to her work as
able. We produce nearly 100 pages of real estate market stats each month, giving our members helpful information and insight that they can use to become experts in the real estate business sector. NSBAR also tracks trends from agent phone calls, questions, and concerns to relay back to brokers and owners. We give them a perspective no one else can, and we take the time to do that. Penzas association management philosophy also focuses on adaptability, connectivity, and the hiring of staff who are willing to push themselves to learn new skills and take on new tasks. Firing people is the worst part of my job and I do not do it very well, but as things change, staff must also change. Penza advises less experienced AEs to stay in touch with members and to always answer the phone. Widen your reading to other industries and conicting views, pick a few blogs to monitor, and, of course, read everything from state and national. But most of all, keep a sense of humor.

Terese (Terry) Penza, RCE, CAE, is president and CEO of the North Shore-Barrington Association of REALTORS, Ill. Contact her at (847) 480-7177 or

Education is perpetual and critical. How can we effectively assist our members if we do not understand their business.

Terry Penza

Penza attributes her successes after 36 years in REALTOR association management to knowing and respecting members and putting their needs rst, behaving ethically, answering all messages before leaving the ofce, and taking a day off every once in a while to visit another association because every one of us can learn from one another. NSBAR continues to bring in more members from other associations than it loses (although it does not actively recruit from other associations) because of its relevant services. In a metropolitan area that once had 17 REALTOR associations, NSBAR is among the remaining sevenno doubt in part because of Penzas exibility, adaptability, and courage to go where few association executives have gone before.