November 13, 2011

Leadership - "Associate Vice President"

Last week's article we discussed the functions and makeup of the HBA senior officers. Today's article will highlight associate leadership within the HBA and specifically focus on the associate vice president position. Some HBAs do not have this position but their bylaws allow for an associate to become an officer. This is also the case for some state associations and NAHB does not have any associates serving as a senior officer. The "reasons" for not having this position are plentiful and the reality of the concerns is quite the contrary. If you were to ask any executive officer what the associate members bring to the HBA they would say that associates are invaluable volunteers and investors in the association. They are also business people, like builders, who manage their businesses, strategically plan for their business' future, recruit new accounts (think members for the HBA) and can troubleshoot with the best of them. The associates, if they are educated in the HBA leadership process, are a fantastic resource for the senior officers in the strategic planning and marketing of the HBA. Associates understand the affects of a brutally sluggish economy, particularly in our industry, and the need to do their part in helping the builders start building again. Builders and associates are tied together in the home building and remodeling arena and both need each other to be a complete one.

The Associate Vice President (AVP)
If your HBA "allows" associates to serve as an officer but they do not have an AVP position understand that the associate officer has other responsibilities. If they are the treasurer their primary focus is on the financial health of the HBA  and if they are the secretary their responsibility is the  administrator for the board. 

Why create an AVP position at your HBA? 
  1. The AVP's will help, with proper focus, the associate members who account for two-thirds of the membership (on average). What issues are affecting the associates need to be understood as much as builder issues. There are many reasons I could give you for saying that but the number one reason would be that associates are the massive majority of investments (sponsorships, membership dues) and attendees of HBA events. The health of the HBA is dependent upon this income and participation. The AVP will help in assisting the senior officers in communicating with the associate members and giving the "other" point of view of the industry.
  2. This position helps foster a better overall team approach for the HBA and destroys the old "Us' v. Them'ns" mentality. Unfortunately, this still exists within the Federation.
  3. The AVP, when visiting with his or her officers team, will highlight the complete building industry. I have personally visited with state legislators and federal legislators, always with builder leadership. The legislators revived a different point of view and had a better understanding of just how many people are affected by industry roadblocks and stoppages.
  4. If your HBA doesn't have any associates on its senior officer team it is time to rethink that bylaw and work to amend. Associates want to serve, they want to be a part of the solutions and actions to help the builders, the building industry.
What is the role of the AVP?
  1. Spokesperson for the associate membership.
  2. Motivator.
  3. Communicator.
  4. Liaison.
  5. Mentor.
  6. Should help to create an associates committee for the main purpose of industry education and working on business issues that affect associates.
  7. Identifies opportunities for increased builder-associate interaction and partnerships.
  8. Blends the associate members needs with the ultimate goals of the HBA.
  9. Identify the effects of board actions, legislation, regulation and economic climate on associate members.
  10. "If it affects builders it will affect associates" is the AVP's position in discussing HBA actions with the associate membership.
  11. Part of the "one voice" of HBA leadership.
Some have just read this and are asking "why do we need an associate to perform these actions?" We have talked about peer to peer in fundraising articles and the same approach is successful here. Builders will speak to associates about building industry issues as if the associate always understands. The AVP will ask the "meaning, cause and effect" questions in officer discussions and break the issues down into its simplest form and communicate the information to the associates. I am not saying associates are not bright; I'm saying they don't deal day to day with the same issues that builders do and therefore not accustomed to the verbiage. But we do understand the point made in # 10 above all to well.

Associates, if you do choose to continue on the leadership path and becoming an AVP is a leadership goal, remember, it's your choice to do so. The business of the association comes before your business. If you can't be an officer without leaving your personal business outside the meeting room door then you should not aspire to this level of leadership. You can't be an effective leader with a personal agenda and you will actually go backwards in how others will view you. 

Next week's blog will detail the benefits and risks of being a volunteer 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 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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