October 30, 2011

Leadership - "The Board of Directors"

Note: This particular article is direct and to the point. When it comes to the HBA board of directors I take a more aggressive tone because I deeply believe that at the local level board members are extremely vital to the health and well being of the local HBA.
This experience, if handled correctly, will help with the understanding of and better participation at the state HBA board and NAHB board of directors levels. 

The HBA board of directors gives a unique perspective of how the association and the industry are intertwined. If you choose to seek a board seat, and are selected by the nominating committee to serve, you will find that when you cross that threshold from general member to board member it will be like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz going from the world of no color to a fully aware world of technicolor.The primary responsibility of the board of directors is to protect the interests of the membership, generally, and the HBA, in particular. When you become a board member you do so by your choice, nobody else's. Resume builders are a dime a dozen but a true leader should clearly understand his or her role at this level. 
When I made "the crossover" I truly became aware of the purpose of the HBA and I made the choice to put the HBA above my personal interests because I knew the success of the association would give me the opportunity to succeed.

The following are the proper steps needed to become a board member of you local. It's a rewarding experience, if conducted properly, and priceless when it comes to the education of our industry and your growth as an industry leader and professional.

"The Board of Directors"
Note: The following is based upon local HBA board of directors. State HBAs may slightly differ but not dramatically. Some states have, based on builder membership totals, available board seats with the majority, in some cases vast majority, given to builder  members. Your local Executive officer can explain that process.

How to Become a Director
  • Financial commitment to the HBA ~ Those who invest in the HBA demonstrate a financial willingness to help in its success. These types of members "put their money where their mouth is" and that is a significant start. You may be in a situation where you absolutely can't participate financially. If this is the case ask yourself if you are doing all you can to influence others to invest in the HBA.
  • Excelled as a volunteer ~ If you were active as a volunteer, enthused and consistently followed through on your commitments, than you would be a welcome source of new blood on the board.
  • Have practiced "association first" ~ Members who have volunteered for the good of the association understand the value of a successful HBA. 
  • Announce your intentions ~ The HBA is a lot of things to a lot of members but being a mind reader is not one! If you have an interest in serving at this level speak with your executive officer, current president and\or past president. One of the three, if not all, will be happy to discuss options for you.
Make up of Board
  • Senior officers ~ The chief elected officer (president), according to NAHB by-laws, is a builder member. Next in leadership, depending on the individual HBA, you will have a first and possibly a second vice president (builder) to advance up the leadership ladder. Other positions that are common; treasurer, secretary and associate vice president. Associates could serve as treasurer or secretary. A strong leadership ladder at the HBA would be majority builder member. Most HBAs have at least one associate as an officer. 
  • Builder board members ~ builders should be the majority of your board.
  • Associate board members ~ the vast majority of HBAs have associates on their board. 
  • Alternate directors (non voting) ~ while this may be a non voting position you may be called upon to vote if you are filling in for a full director. It is advisable for you to attend as many board meetings as possible so if you are called upon you have working knowledge of current HBA issues. 
  • Life directors ~ This is achieved, in most local HBAs, after ten (10) years as an active board member with active meaning attending the minimum required board meetings per year. Each local is different in terms of total meetings per year and you can find the answer by asking the executive officer or reading your HBA by-laws. Some local HBAs include time served as an alternate towards the ten years. Again, you will find that out through your local. 
  • Past Presidents ~ Once a president serves his or her year as the chief elected officer, they become past, with the most recent called "immediate past." Depending on the local HBA there may or may not be required attendance in order for the past presidents to vote but just like the alternate, past presidents should be attending in order to vote on relevant and current HBA initiatives. 
  • Committee Chairs (non voting) ~ Some locals may have the multiple committee chairmen attend to give reports on their respective committees. Unless the chairman is already a board member, they can only advise, not vote.
  • State HBA Committee Representatives ~ Some local HBAs have their members, who serve at the state level on committees, give a report at the local board meeting. This way the local board can become better acquainted with state activities. Non voting unless already on the board.
Board Members Are Strongly Encouraged...
  • to attend board meetings ~ Life happens, work and family should always be at the top of your priority list, certainly higher than HBA involvement. No one will have any issue with you if "life happens" but if you know it will be ongoing please recommend someone else take your seat. The board, to operate properly, needs it's elected volunteers to attend meetings on a regular basis. 
  • to attend general membership meetings ~ board meetings are usually held before general membership meetings. You're there already so unless "life happens" you should stay, meet the new members and engage in conversation with existing members.
  • to demonstrate fiduciary responsibility ~ you need to understand this term as a board member. A member who has been nominated and then elected to his or her board has been entrusted with the well being of that HBA. 
  • to have a financial commitment ~ I have witnessed too many board members who have rust on the hinges of their wallets. We are not talking about breaking into your life savings or depleting your 401K but even a small financial investment is better than a non investment. How can we expect the general membership to invest in HBA initiatives if the board members do not?
  • to honor the Code of Conduct ~ most locals will have a code of conduct for their board members. Ask you executive officer for the language before you accept your board position. 
  • to understand, respect & follow Robert's Rules ~ parliamentary procedure that keeps the volunteers in an organized meeting. 
  • to be an active participant ~  Some boards are content with status quo, keeping non performing members as guardians of the local. The "you get out what you put in" theory is never more evident than on a local board. Some boards are actively engaged and passionate; those locals thrive in in today's economic climate. Other boards are apathetic; those locals are mostly distressed. Having a seat on the board doesn't mean to sit on your hands.
  • to recognize your choice to serve ~ all I am stating above is what is needed from you and your agreement to serve as a board member. This is your choice and how you choose to perform will give great insight to how you are as a professional. If you can no longer serve because "life happens" it is completely understandable, please just don't occupy a seat when there may be others who want a chance to help.

Next week's blog will explain the role of the senior officers.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader" ~ John Adams

Note: This series of upcoming blog posts are based on The NAHB Associates power point presentation titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Associate Leadership. Thank you to the New Jersey Builders Association for donating the presentation to NAHB so that our associate members across the Federation could help those who want to contribute their skills and talents in helping the HBAs

October 23, 2011

Leadership ~ Chairman "Your Chair Is Waiting for You"

Three blog articles ago we discussed volunteerism as the start towards HBA leadership. Two weeks we discussed what particular qualities are needed to be an effective leader. Last week we discussed leadership styles and which would be the best way to be effective.

The next, and natural, progression from the volunteer only level, with your identification of qualities and style, is to move into a chairman's role. Although the chairman step is not necessarily needed to become a board member or an officer, understanding the "volunteer manager" role will go along way in being a better, more developed leader.  
If you decide this is your next step the benefits will be enormous to you professionally and will showcase your leadership skills. It's not everybody who can take a group of volunteers and influence them to deliver your particular initiative into the realm of success for everyone involved. 
Your Chair Is Waiting for You

I hopefully will pique your interest now in stating that there are two major benefits to agreeing to become a chairman;

1. Helping the HBA with one aspect of being successful which in turn helps the industry. If it helps the industry you are helping yourself.
2. If you are successful in managing a group of volunteers, keeping them engaged and enthused, can you imagine how your skill level as a paid manager working with paid employees will grow? Absolute hands on training to become a manager or a better one. 

Leader, facilitator, team builder. That is the core of being a committee chairman. It is also the Chairman's role to demonstrate the "fruits of the initiative," lead by example and action as well clearing road blocks. 
  • Identify and understand priorities of the HBA - simply stated, you have to know the"whys" before you can take on the chairman's role.
  • Preparing budgets - in some cases, if it involves a fundraising event (when doesn't it??), you will have to either create a budget or adjust a current budget so you can determine if an event will be profitable. 
  • Setting effective agendas - nobody wants to attend a meeting that is meaningless. Setting an agenda that is informative and productive is key to keeping committee members engaged and returning.
  • Time management of meeting - each agenda item should be timed based on priority of each item. Set aside room for new discussions which are relevant to that particular committee and leave room to have a revisit to old discussions from that day or previous meetings. 
  • Beware of "time killers;" do not let members "beat a dead horse" or revisit an item that was already determined to go in a direction that all agreed upon previously. 
  • "Time saver:" consent agendas allows the board to approve all these items together without discussion or individual motions. Depending upon the organization, this can free up anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour for more substantial discussion.
  • Familiarization of Robert's Rules, follow if applicable - there may be times, more frequent than you know, when following parliamentary procedure is the most efficient way to run a meeting particularly with an all volunteer group.
  • Properly delegate - we spoke last week about being an autocratic leader. An effective chairman can not do "it" alone and will need to make sure others are a part of the initiative. Giving certain members particular tasks can also help identify future committee chairmen. You will need to understand a few things here; have your delegates give you a commitment. There is nothing wrong with asking the question "can you give your time and leadership to this imitative?" If the answer is "yes" they have chosen to move forward in the assigned role. If the answer is "no" then you move on to the next candidate. Some will choose to take the challenge others may not. 
  • "Be the fullback" - when you delegate you are given someone responsibility. You may have to occasionally clear the path of any obstacles for your volunteers so they can deliver their charge. 
  • Meeting deadlines - Every initiative (and\or parts of,) has a set time in the future. Others are relying on you, as chair, to meet that deadline. 
  • Engage entire committee - some committees will have members that are sitting on the sidelines. They are there in person, but not in spirit. An effective chairman will draw out participation from all members, either in the group or in private discussions. The chairman needs to be all inclusive
  • The "Buck Stops Here" - The successes of the committee are group successes. The lack of success falls directly on the chairman's shoulders. Spread the wealth and take responsibility when things don't go as planned. This will, believe it or not, help develop your leadership skills.
  • Working WITH staff - While this association is volunteer driven the importance in being in sync with HBA staff can not be understated. The flow of the work of the group is much much smoother. But remember, never expect staff to do your "agreed upon beforehand" work. You took on the charge and staff is there to assist, not lead. 
A good chairman inspires members to have confidence in the chairman. An effective chairman inspires members to have confidence in themselves.

Next week's article will explain the next level of leadership; the board of directors.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader" ~ John Adams

Note: This series of upcoming blog posts are based on The NAHB Associates power point presentation titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Associate Leadership. Thank you to the New Jersey Builders Association for donating the presentation to NAHB so that our associate members across the Federation could help those who want to contribute their skills and talents in helping the HBAs.  

October 16, 2011

Leadership - "What Style at What Time?"

Last week's blog we discussed certain qualities needed to be a good leader. While these qualities are important your style of leadership will dictate whether you go from a good leader to an effective leader. 1.Choosing a style of leadership will be determined by the nature of the initiative and it's overall priority within the HBA. For this article, I will refer to committees, task forces and working groups as initiatives.

What Style at What Time?

There are many styles of leadership but when you break them down, and categorize, you find that each fall into one of three groups. For this blog we will refer to these groups as styles:

  • Autocratic: This leader is take charge, always in control. He or she will have a strong tendency to micro-manage or completely "run the show." 
  • Participative: This leader delegates, keeping the whole group engaged. Will set a plan, with a matrix, and let's those chosen with certain roles free to carry out their portion of the overall plan. The participative leader will clear roadblocks so others can remain focused and will give guidance if asked and will support a decision if it is consistent with the goals and desired outcome of the initiative.
  • Free-reign: This leader is hands off and let's the group dictate what the needs and actions should be for the entire initiative. 

Free-reign has a time and a place but some leaders to choose to go this path. Some may say it's a good way to lead, to have others set the plan for the group, have others craft the matrix and let others decide the rest. Here is my opinion; others were not asked by the HBA president to lead the initiative. You were. You will be the person others will see when the initiative is not as successful as it could have been. There is a time and a place for "once in awhile" free-reign leadership; things are moving smoothly, goals are being met, volunteers have that feeling of accomplishment. You can not be a successful leader if you start off as free-reign. 

There will be times where you will need to be autocratic, depending on the timeline of the set plan and whether or not the short term or long term matrix is falling behind. Sometimes the volunteers are not performing as they agree to when given the opportunity they chose to take. The leader of this initiative will have to step in and pick up the slack or dropped item.

The particpative leader blends a little free-reign and more than a little autocratic into this style. This leader has a plan set and works with the group. This leader will take full responsibility for lack of results but will give full credit to the members working the initiative and will highlight to HBA leadership those who deserve the accolades. This style of leader will also help to identify future leaders of the initiative and work for an energized transition. 

Note: Two other quasi styles/qualities that need mentioning:

Charismatic: This leader is needed when morale is low and motivation has stagnated. Being creative, with passion, is required to achieve the goal(s) of this initiative.

Visionary: This leader will identify tomorrow and all that it has to offer and what changes, slight to radical, may be needed for the future.

Next week's blog will explain the role of chairman.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader" ~ John Adams

Note: This series of upcoming blog posts are based on The NAHB Associates power point presentation titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Associate Leadership. Thank you to the New Jersey Builders Association for donating the presentation to NAHB so that our associate members across the Federation could help those who want to contribute their skills and talents in helping the HBAs. 

October 9, 2011

Leadership - "Good Leaders Are Not Born...."

In the last blog post, "The Volunteer,"  I highlighted the most effective ways to build your professional reputation on the chosen road to HBA leadership. From this point, leadership can go in many directions. Some may be content with their leadership role solely as an engaged volunteer while others may want to move forward and choose to take a deeper role within the HBA. If this is your chosen decision there are something you  may want to identify to see if the next levels of leadership are for you. Today's blog will talk about the needed traits that are the foundation for a good leader. These are my opinions that I have gathered over the years from watching some of the greats of our Federation.  The most important thing to remember is this; HBA leaders are working with multiple personalities that are VOLUNTEERS, not paid employees. If you could learn to effectively lead volunteers imagine what you can do as a leader in your company with employees. Benefit of volunteer leadership? Management training!

"Good Leaders Are Not Born...."
While they may not be born as leaders they certainly were born with attributes that can develop leadership. If you have the desire and the willpower, you could become a good leader. This desire needs to come from inside. Desire is not a thing you are born with. Desire is created by a "want" or multiple "wants." Passion stokes that desire. The more you want, the greater the desire, the fiercer the passion. Passion comes in many forms and, depending on what region of the country you are from, can be embraced or misinterpreted. One member’s passion is another member’s description of a fanatic. Some areas of our Federation are fast paced and adapt on the fly while others are slower and controlled. While too much passion CAN bring you to the edge, lack of desire or interest will thwart even the most passionate causes. Certain qualities will compliment desire and willpower and help you become not just good but an effective leader. 

Let's look at the qualities needed for an effective leader in the home builders association;

  1. Passion - overmastering feeling that delivers a drive for an initiative or objective. I wrote about this earlier; different people have different ways of showing passion. I would rather have a handful of passionate volunteer members as opposed to an army of apathetic followers. 
  2. Commitment - when you dive into the water you can't be a little bit wet. Commitment, particularly when others are counting on you, is 100%.
  3. Integrity - honesty, morality and core values. This truly speaks for itself. 
  4. Understanding - having an understanding of the possible threats to the building industry is critical to leadership. How can you lead if you don't have the core purpose of the HBA in thought?
  5. Influential (pull, not push) - volunteers can not be pushed. They have their own lives that can sometimes push them, they don't need that treatment when donating time. In order for you to be an effective leader you have to learn, and it will take time, how to pull volunteers in your direction. Highlight the value of their involvement, the value of the initiative and create the want. Like I wrote earlier; create a want which develops the desire and you will pull out the volunteers passion.
  6. Willingness to admit a mistake - when you decide to go in a particular direction, and you realize you were wrong, do not continue because you don't want to "lose face" with the group. People respect others who can admit they are wrong and will be furthered respected by assessing the mistake, asking others for guidance and then move forward.
  7. Ability to listen - Sales 101: Listen. When you do all the talking others will close down shop. Dictatorships fail, democracies prevail. 
  8. Decisiveness - when a decision is made, after discussion and direction, make it happen, move forward. The time for additional conversation happens when there is a need to adapt. 
  9. Consistency - most people like to know when they work with someone that they have direction, focus and can be relied upon. This consistent approach doesn't mean being flexible. It means being reliable and a straight talker.

You may not have been born a leader but you you may very well have been born with certain traits that could develop and help you become a good leader. You have to have that "want."

Next week's blog will explain the different leadership styles.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader" ~ John Adams

Note: This series of upcoming blog posts are based on The NAHB Associates power point presentation titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Associate Leadership." Thank you to the New Jersey Builders Association for donating the presentation to NAHB so that our associate members across the Federation could help those who want to contribute their skills and talents in helping the HBAs.  ΓΌ

October 2, 2011

Associate Leadership ~ The Volunteer "Every Beginning Starts With A Commitment"

“In the arena of human life the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.” ~ Aristotle

Joining a local home builders association (HBA) gives you your first start at contributing to the building industry. You are a general member and that in itself is taking action towards helping the industry. Some are very content in being that general member and there is nothing wrong with that position. Without general members there is no HBA. There comes a time when general members are asked to donate time to a committee, task force or an event. They are asked through an HBA publication, speaker at a general membership meeting or "one on one" by a fellow member. Some just read or listen, others have their interest piqued. Those who have that desire to learn more about donating time are about to climb steps that lead to the first level of leadership; An HBA volunteer. In a past blog article titled "Voice of One, Power of Three" we discussed the purpose of the Federation. Understanding the level of membership that you invest your time and what each level brings, in terms of benefit to the building industry, will help you understand the need for volunteers. 

Every Beginning Starts With A Commitment 

You are interested in investing time and you are ready to make the commitment to HBA volunteerism. Choosing to be a volunteer the first step in becoming an HBA leader. The Federation is built on foundation blocks and one of those blocks is volunteerism. A true volunteer is the back bone to any level of the HBA and always will be. How you choose to participate is up to you and that choice will ultimately decide your reputation. In my opinion, reputation is everything in the business world. 
Your local executive officer is your first official conversation. Make your intentions known and ask for guidance on where you could begin. This could be based on your interests or professional discipline or maybe even where there is an absolute need for additional participation. The local executive officer knows all the committees, councils and events and he\she can get you started right away.

When you do start know that there are right ways and there are wrong ways when investing your time and they both come with how other members view you as a professional. For the purpose of this article I will refer to committees, task forces and events as "Initiatives."

Wrong ways:
1. Resume building ~ You join the initiative because you really think it makes you look good to others.
2. Marketing of your company ~ You just want to make sure your company gets exposure by your participation. 
3. Over promise and under\don't deliver (sales 101) ~ you join the initiative and agree to take on a certain role in helping the overall initiative and drop the ball by lack of action. "Actions speak louder than words" must have been created for HBA volunteerism!

Any three, or in combination, will give you a short term burst in recognition. However, your "act" eventually wears thin and you'll will earn a reputation for being all about you. 

Benefits of the wrong way? NONE. None to the volunteer and none for the HBA. 

Right ways:
1. Understand that the "outside" appearance of any initiative helps with social networking, which will lead to business opportunities. This strengthens the most talked about benefit of being a member; making business connections that count. 
2. Understand that the "inside" need for the HBA is dollars generated for HBA expenses. In other words, these initiatives help keep the HBA doors open. You may say "It's not always about the dollars!" Yes, directly, or indirectly, it is always about the dollars. Fundraisers like a golf outing? Net Profit generator. Task forces that help with certain problems need to help the members? Keeping them in business means bringing them dollars. If dollars are made, memberships are renewed; again, bringing in the dollar. Every committee has a purpose and if you delve into the need you will see that is always about the dollars. Being about the dollars is NOT a bad thing, it's very much needed. Again, reread "Voice of One, Power of Three"  and the "inside" need will become clearer. 
3. Under promise and over deliver (again, sales 101). When you volunteer you volunteer by choice. When you make that choice, others within the initiative are counting on you to live up to your choice.
4. Join one initiative. Work at being the best you can be on that one. Time is valuable and when you commit to more than one you will be taking time away from your first commitment as well as your job. Do not over extend your volunteerism unless\until you feel comfortable in your multi-tasking abilities. Do not be pressured to do more than you can give. Some go over board in their 

Benefits of the right way ? 
1. I have come to the realization that how you act and perform as a volunteer sheds an enormous amount of light on how you are as a professional. Other members will want to be associated with this type of volunteer and this will help you will expand your social capital  and develop a reputation as a member who makes "good things" happen.
2. You are investing your time into an organization that is helping to provide you with a career. The ultimate give and take, laws of reciprocity.
3. You should receive business introductions and opportunities as people get to see your commitment and get to know you. This takes time and building a great reputation will always take time.

When in doubt always ask questions. Talk to your initiative chairman or the executive officer for updates on how you are performing. They will, by nature, want to see you do well because you are part of the initiative. At the end of the day what you "put in will eventually come out" and that's how members will remember you.
 Leadership begins with a commitment, continues with commitment and ends when the commitment ends. How you handle your committed time will define you as an HBA leader. 

Next week's blog will explain the traits of an HBA leader.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader" ~ John Adams

Note: This series of upcoming blog posts are based on The NAHB Associates power point presentation titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Associate Leadership. Thank you to the New Jersey Builders Association for donating the presentation to NAHB so that our associate members across the Federation could help those who want to contribute their skills and talents in helping the HBAs.