November 20, 2011

Leadership: "Risks v. Benefits"

Choosing to make the decision to move forward in becoming an HBA leader places you in a unique role. You have made the choice to invest your time and with investment there comes the inevitable "risk/reward" moments of reckoning. Are there risks? A few but the rewards, or better stated, the benefits, outweigh the risks. In this final installment of the leadership series will highlight the risks and uncover the benefits of choosing to become an HBA leader. The leadership power point training for this series of articles will be located on by The International Builders Show, 2012. By utilizing the power point training and the discussions from these leadership articles you can craft or add to your current HBA leadership training.

Risks v. Benefits
The Risks;
When we discuss risks we are talking about only a few elements and they are completely under your control; IF you recognize them.

  1. Time commitment - In past articles about your choice in becoming a leader I wrote about understanding "association first, your business second." This is not a motto but a direction. However a few people wrote me and said "Mike, members can not place the association over there business, particularly in these times." I agree with them, wholeheartedly. I never said or wrote "place the association over your business." I wrote that when you are working on association matters your business can't influence your contribution(s) to the conversation, the initiative and/or future of the HBA. The risk I'm referring for this discussion is giving your all to the association and neglecting your business. There are some who have not recognized this and their business suffered. Be careful and understand the balance. It's always your decision, your choice. 
  2. It's not about you - Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones, sung "you can't always get what you want." You may think you have the only solutions but their are others that have similar or different points of view. The risk here is sometimes your thoughts will be the direction, sometimes they won't. How you respond is under your control. Remember, Mick finished the lyrics by singing "but if you try sometimes, you may find, you get what you need." 
  3. The "Paper Towel" experience - A long time ago, someone said to me that we use our volunteer members like paper towels; keeping pulling off sheets of  contributions until you are left with a card board roll, then discard. This risk is all in how you view that statement. If you feel like you are being used, you'll sour on the HBA. What you have to place above that feeling is that during your time you gave to the best of your abilities and assisted in helping the HBA and, in turn, the building industry. You can't hold on to position and you need to recognize that others will be choosing to help, with you and after you. 
That's it; we covered time, input and ego. I can't think of any other risks but I'm sure there may be others. Again, if you identify these risks from the start, you will neutralize them, make them a non issue. Your choice.

The Benefits;
  1. Education - learning about the industry, the threats, the trends, the future. You will not find this in any college but you will not only find it through leadership but flourish with the knowledge you gain as an HBA leader.
  2. Working knowledge of government - some may say that they are not interested in politics. However, having an interest in how politics affects your home building industry career brings you knowledge that, when explained, delivers insight to you that you may not receive as a general member.
  3. Career improvement - whether you are a builder or an associate you will be able to apply your new found knowledge to your business. It's one of the returns you receive by investing your time in the association.
  4. Strategic planning and business direction - understanding where the industry is at the moment is great. Knowing where it is heading is better. Whether you build homes or supply product/service to the construction, you have competition. Leadership gives you a distinct advantage that your competitors won't have. Some will say "Mike, you are going against what you wrote, 'don't use the association!'" I wrote "utilize the association, don't use." Huge difference and as a leader you understand the knowledge you gain is part of utilization. 
  5. "Education and application" (better known as volunteer leadership) - there are training organizations, like Dale Carnegie, that will teach you the philosophy of leadership. There are organizations like the HBA that will not only teach you but give you hands on experience, learning by trial and error. This type of education will help you lead within your own company. Think about; if you could lead volunteers to success in the HBA imagine what you could do if you lead paid employees. 
  6. Relationships that last a lifetime - your time in the association as a leader brings quite a few benefits but the relationships you make are priceless. You are part of an extended family. Like any family you will have your share of "Kodak moments" as well a family squabbles. Please understand, as part of leadership, you won't go through tough times alone or ever rejoice with good news by yourself. Some may say that this isn't a benefit. I truly believe it has been an enormous benefit for me.
The benefits, like the risks, are also your choice. Choosing to be an HBA leader is always your decision. Never let other members pressure you to become involved or more involved. When the time is right you will know when the time is right for you. There will be plenty of times when you reach  the proverbial fork in the road and how you choose to make the decisions will ultimately teach you lessons and, if lessons are learned, will help your future decision making within the association and within your profession.

I would like to thank the past, the present and the future leaders of our association. You are a rare breed in a "what's in it for me" world; you care. Almost all the presidents of our HBA smile when they are making the transition to "past president." They will say they are relieved that their time is over. I don't believe them for a minute. They are smiling because they know they gave it their all for the home building industry and that smile is one of satisfaction that they didn't sit back and watched, they led.

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

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