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.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good words as a reminder of what a volunteer really consists of.