man on a horseAssociation and MLS leaders have it tough today.  The best leaders are staying on top of the latest trends, considering how emerging ideas affect their subscribers and proactively making changes to keep their organizations relevant.  Sounds like the kind of leader we all want to be right?

So if this is what all leaders strive for, why is it so hard to create sustainable change?

I have recently run across a few examples where the Board of Directors believed they knew the path that was best for their constituents yet they were not able to implement the path that made the most sense.

For example, an organization was trying to implement lockboxes. Their market has resisted the adoption of these tools even though the evidence clearly shows that the safety and security of properties represented and the REALTORS® who show them are improved when lockboxes are in place.  The Board clearly understood the positive impact lockboxes have had in other markets. They believed it was truly the right thing to do for their region, yet the program was not put into place. Why was that?

Because the vote whether to implement lockboxes was brought to the entire membership.  While there is a solid thinking why you would involve your membership in a decision of this sort, the general populous was used to the tradition of the marketplace.  The REALTORS® in that marketplace had not reviewed the evidence from other markets where the program has worked flawlessly for many, many years like the board had.  The members rallied to say they couldn’t afford the cost instead of thinking about the safety implications and risk they may be putting themselves and their clients in. Bottomline, they didn’t have the whole story.

While a full membership vote can be helpful sometimes, I would argue that there are times when leaders simply have to lead and make decisions that might not be completely embraced.  They need to look at the greater good and make the tough calls.  At the same time, they need to stand proudly in front of their decisions, using their amazing sales skills honed by selling properties, to convince their fellow agents and brokers why their decision makes sense.

Recently, I heard of another example where a decision to move forward with an MLS selection was put to the popular vote. Again, while it’s great to get membership input, the bulk of the membership is not up to speed on all of the reasons why an MLS system evolution might be in order.  It certainly makes sense to get member input and invite commentary, but a full membership vote can hinder progress.  The popular vote can be completely counter to the decision the leadership of the organization believes is necessary.

Where am I going with this?   Being a leader is sometimes a very difficult task. You have to make the tough calls others aren’t willing to make. You have to take smart, calculated risks. Many times they work out, but sometimes they don’t. The best leaders are willing to make a decision and then adjust their actions quickly as the situation dictates.

Most important leaders are willing to take a stand…make a decision…and MOVE, all in the spirit of making their organizations stronger, positioning them well for the future.

Associations and MLSs that are afraid to make decisions are in fact making a decision. They are saying that they don’t want their organizations to move forward. Every day that you’re not moving forward is a day that you’re getting behind.  It’s just a matter of time before you won’t be able to catch up.

While I’m all for giving each member a voice, there are times when the General leading the troops has to make a call and then inspire others to follow. There is no more important time in the real estate industry that leaders have to step up their game to make brave and bold decisions. They need to listen and respond to their constituents needs, but not get paralyzed by listening to the voices that are trying to hold on to the past.  This is a very difficult line to draw, but I encourage every Association Staff and Volunteer leader to heed these words.

The next time you’re in your board meeting, think about these three important questions every time a new topic is introduced on the agenda:

1.    Is this action going to make it easier for our members to be successful?

2.    Is this action going to help our organization be more relevant and positioned well for the future?

3.    Are we being brave about the topics we’re taking on or are we sticking to the safer and less impactful topics?

4.    Are we focused on bigger, more strategic decisions, or are we stuck in the minutia?

5.    Are we making decisions quickly enough or are we waffling on the big topics that are going to make a difference?

Good luck with having a year filled with important and impactful decisions that are going to strengthen the long-term viability of the real estate industry.