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A Great Year to Be Chair, Seriously

April 1, 2011

Steve Francks, RCE, CAE, is CEO of the Washington REALTORS® Association. Contact him at 360-943-3100 or steve.francks@warealtor.org.

I’ve been hearing this a lot lately: “Gee, Steve, you sure picked a great year to be the AEC Chair.” It’s usually said with a smile and an underlying note of, well, sympathy.

This certainly is a momentous time for the REALTOR® organization. We’re implementing the RAMCO database management system, working on a Value Proposition tool kit for all associations, and oh yeah, there’s that little matter of a proposed dues increase and a fundamental overhaul of REALTOR® advocacy. Nothing too controversial.

So when someone makes a comment to me about my sense of timing, my response is, “Absolutely! This is a great year to be the AEC Chair.”

Why shouldn’t it be? Our association is alive with discussion and creativity. There are healthy debates across the many forums for communicating ideas. Members and AEs are engaged, big time. It’s all part of that crazy little thing called “change.” All that theory we’ve learned about dealing with change is now in play, at every level, and on a fundamental -basis. And we, as AEs, get the opportunity to help our members understand the changing environment, show them how to manage it, and generally help them make good decisions. This is what we’ve been trained to do, and what we’re good at.

With all of these discussions of internal association issues going on, we have to remember that our members are facing a heightened level of uncertainty every day in their professional lives. We have to understand that their whole world is changing rapidly, and often in ways we can barely anticipate, let alone control.

That’s one reason I’m so proud of the program at the 2011 Association Executives Institute. Rebecca Grossman and the AEI Advisory Group did a remarkable job of creating a curriculum that was relevant to our members’ business needs. But the most important lesson I took away from Dallas is this: Our organization has to be willing to talk to itself. Our organization needs to be willing to talk to and among one another, at every level. We need to float ideas and discuss them in good faith. Offer suggestions. Offer passion. That’s all great. But in the end, remember that we’re all on the same team.

I’m looking forward to a lively discussion at the midyear meetings in D.C., and throughout what will undoubtedly be a seriously great year as AEC Chair.