Leadership is difficult to define. It might be easy to say, “I just know leadership talent when I see it,” which is how we often define leadership by our heroes. Whether your hero is Abraham Lincoln, your clergy, or your friends, it’s important to take time to list the traits you admire and apply these characteristics to your life, your work, and your volunteers.
Our ability to inspire future leaders in our membership not only comes from our own actions, but from providing members with opportunities to gain leadership qualities and principles.
AEs at all levels—local, state, and national—advance our members’ leadership skills by offering leadership development institutes or programs. We help our officers, our staff, and, yes, even ourselves, acquire leadership traits for our common purpose—fostering exceptional leadership in our association.
We have all whispered (or in some cases shouted) that we would like to have a person become our association president for life. Well, our wishful thinking can be replaced by our collective leadership development programs and their ability to assist in identifying future leaders.
The Illinois Association of REALTORS®’ last five elected leaders are all products of the IAR Leadership Development Program. Participation in the program is not a prerequisite for nomination, but the program offers us the ability to identify leadership and keep those participants engaged and eager to continue.
Leadership development is an excellent opportunity to partner with your state or other local associations and share the costs—and benefits—of always having a pool of trained leaders.
As AEs, we have many training opportunities through the AE Institute, the Leadership Summit, and the Pacific Institute. We should always make sure to impart some of what we learn at these events to our elected leaders in our everyday interactions.
Many of us have submitted our elected leader to be featured in this issue as an example of inspirational leadership. Please read their accomplishments and efforts and make a note of what you perceive as their leadership traits so you can apply those in your leadership development.
A few OF my favorite principles of leadership
You must seek and require access to reliable and up-to-date information.
Spend time letting your followers learn that you are firm, resolute, and committed in the daily performance of your duty. Doing so will gain their respect and trust.
If you practice dictatorial leadership, you prepare yourself to be dictated to.
Delegate responsibility and authority by empowering people to act on their own.
You must set and respond to fundamental goals and values that move your followers.
Remember your organization will take on the personality of its top leader.
Do the very best you know how—the very best you can—and keep doing so until the end.
Unite your followers with a “corporate mission.”
All from Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times, by Donald T. Phillips.
— Gary Clayton, RCE, CAE
2009 AEC Chair
CEO, Illinois Association of Realtors®