March 24, 2014

"'Competition is Good,' Said the Apple to the Orange"

"And while the law of competition may be sometimes hard for the individual,it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department."
                                                                                                                              - Andrew Carnegie

Competition; it brings out the best in people. Or at least the best the individual has to offer. Competition has always proven to be a way to have people excel IF they have the drive to be better, do better and effect change. It is clearly visible in pro sports, in the American free enterprise system and, to bring it to a more direct discussion, our association.
When you have one person running for an elected position the voters, get no CHOICE, no say in the matter. This may cause a candidate to go on cruise control, never really having to thoroughly explain their platform and their vision.
Every once in awhile, we have contested elections meaning more than one candidate is running for an elected office. More than one candidate running means we don’t have any one on cruise control, no one ordained. In 2014, at the national level of our association and for the first time in five years, we have a contested election for 3rd vice chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. We actually have the opportunity to see the next senior officer under fire, speaking on their beliefs, demonstrating how they can help our members be more successful and no matter how successful you are you can always strive to be a little bit more successful. This is America after all. If you are more successful that means you are better protected from outside influences looking to harm your business. Being successful also means to become more profitable. If builders are profitable, they build more. If they build more, associates gain more opportunities to sell. If that happens, local HBAs have better opportunities to gain more non dues revenue as well as retention and recruitment.
We don’t really know what’s on a candidate’s mind unless they are truly pressed. Uncontested means vanilla platforms. Contested delivers a very clear message. It also places a spotlight on each candidate as we hear from them on their platforms as well as answering questions from our membership. We get a chance to see and hear a little more clearly when our candidates are seen in that brighter light. 

What I don’t care for in contested elections is the “positions for votes” that we witness from time to time. “Support me and I will give you a chairmanship or a voting seat on a committee of your choice” is an example that I am sad to say occasionally happens. I like a candidate who will say to me “support me and I will help you with your business through our efforts as a team at NAHB” speaks volumes to me. I would accept a position because I earned it and others recognize that I have made even the slightest of a difference and not because I deliver votes. We are NAHB, not congress.

I also have a less than favorable view of opposing candidates, and their “team,” going negative against the other candidate. This happens at all levels of NAHB and it’s not the norm but does happen once in awhile. If you can’t win on what you bring to the federation, get out of the race. Does that not mean anything to the offending candidate? NAHB is not the place for negative campaigns, especially when we are fellow members. Such divisive tactics make it harder for us to stand UNIFIED as the voice of a great industry. Let's not forget that negative and derogatory comments from campaign teams are a direct reflection on that particular candidate. Campaign behavior is a true predictor of what one can expect out of a candidate in the future. What's that old saying "a leopard can't (or is it won't) change his spots?”
Yes, I believe contested elections have a great role in deciding who you trust with your livelihood and, by extension, your family and employees or co-workers and employers. It’s all about competition and the drive to bring out the best. And once you bring out the best in someone, you have improved them, translating into yet another success for our federation.
Remember, at the end of the day NAHB’s success is our success; it is your vote and you should use it wisely.

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

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