November 6, 2011

Leadership - "The Senior Officers"

"Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm." ~ Publilius Syrus (100B.C.)
It has been said that all journeys come to an end so the road to leadership would seem to end with becoming an officer of the HBA. On the contrary, it really is only the beginning. We have spoken about volunteers, committee chairs and board of directors. Each level brings you closer to that feeling of ownership in the association. When you become an officer you develop a desire to truly be the protector. How deep that desire goes is up to each individual but you are protective of the HBA nonetheless and you know are a part of its fabric. Your days as an officer could be many years removed but most past officers, particularly presidents, still are engaged because the HBA never left them. This is a good thing. 

Senior officers are that beacon of light on a stormy night. They lead when some may choose to take cover. Their natural instincts are fight, not flight, and inspire others to stay the course. As I write this article, our industry is in the worst economic crisis it's ever experienced. Local, state and national officers, in today's world, are the reasons I believe we will make it through this time in our home building industry.

The Senior Officers:
HBA officers have the same requirements as board members. This level of leadership goes further as the officers work on the internal management of the HBA and have more of a time commitment that a board member. To become a leader in the HBA is a personal choice and a professional commitment.
The most important point to remember as an officer is this; "one thought, one voice" mentality. It is certainly fine to have disagreements as officers, in fact it makes for a healthy discussion. However, when the door to the officers' meeting room opens, an effective officer team comes out united in course and action.

PresidentThe president is THE voice of the association, to the association and on behalf of the association. Presidents are the ones who meet with legislators, support the association's policies internally & externally as well as govern & guide the flow of conversation of the board. 
Presidents also make committee chair appointments that help to establish leaders, create and set agendas for task forces and lead by example. Local HBA presidents generally represent their local on the state board level and should be involved with the state HBA on conveying the local's concerns and help craft guidance.

In the previous article on the board of directors I wrote that the chief elected officer (president), according to NAHB by-laws, is a builder member. The reasons are multiple but there are a few worth mentioning due to the fact that some HBAs allow an associate to be their president:
  1. This is a builders association that encompasses the entire home building industry. Suppliers, service providers and trades (AKA associates) are part of the association, should help lead within the association but should not be, in my opinion, the lead voice of the association.
  2. Builders are the members that have to work with planning boards, building inspectors, regulatory agencies, potential home owners, etc. The builders take the upfront risks to bring a project from the planning stages through the closing. Who better to lead than someone who has "skin in the game."
Roles of the builder ladder (vice presidents) ~ 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. In some very fortunate cases there may even be a third vice president.These positions are integral to the success of the HBA as it establishes a succession of builder leadership. Each vice president may have, depending on the individual HA, oversight of a particular aspect of the association through an assigned standing committee or a political action committee. 
  1. These positions help the builder officers become prepared to take over the reins of the HBA by becoming acclimated to the personalities of the HBA and educated of the issues of the HBA.
  2. These positions also gives multiple points of view, from other builders, to the president and help set up a continued association strategy for success.
Roles of the treasurer and secretary positions These positions, depending on the local's by-laws, can be either a builder or an associate (if not part of the builder ladder) and are extremely important in the overall management of the HBA.
  1. Treasurer ~ The treasurer's main responsibility is to take charge of the association's money. The treasurer works with the executive officer to establish a budget for the HBA, submitting the budget for board approval and helps to identify ways to increase "the rainy day funds" through investments and/or other means of keeping the HBA in the black. The treasurer should hopefully have a better than average financial sense.
  2. Secretary ~ this officer position should help to prepare the agenda for board meetings, should send regular and special board meeting notices to the directors, should record the minutes of the individual board meetings and should be, when votes are taken, the official vote tabulator. 
The Immediate Past President ~ After serving on the ladder for multiple years the builder who climbed the ladder and reached the presidency took over for somebody. That somebody was a man or woman who gave their time to, hopefully, making the HBA a little better, a little stronger. We shake their hand and give them a past presidents pin at the installation of the new president. That is not enough for most because they need to stay apart of the team as they make the transition from president to trusted advisor. The immediate past president, in some HBAs, is considered an officer. Some retain a vote within officers' discussions, some don't. Some give their opinion when needed others help to strengthen a new president who may still need some seasoning. Regardless of the purpose this is a person who brings stability and history to discussions. They are most likely your most valued counsel during meetings. The position, more importantly person, is your key to builder leadership recruitment as well. The immediate past president most likely serves as the HBA Nominating Committee Chairman.

The Associate Vice President ~ This position was saved for the end of this article for a reason. Most HBAs have at least one associate as an officer. I say most because there are still some, although extremely small percentage, of HBAs that won't allow associates to be on the HBA board, much less an officer. This is, in my opinion, an incredibly important position within the HBA and one that has a great understanding of the, on average, two-thirds membership of the association. 

I wont't spend time within this article describing this position because.......
next week's blog will define the associate vice president position, the need for the position and effective ways associates should lead from this position.

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 blog posts are based on The NAHB Associates power point presentation titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Associate Leadership." A special thank you to the New Jersey Builders Association for donating the presentation to NAHB in hopes that our associate members across the Federation could help those members who would like to contribute their skills and talents in leadership.

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