Recently, I rejoined GLVAR, having moved out of state for the last year, working as an Executive Officer for a small REALTOR® Board (yes they were a Board, not an Association and told me very strongly that identity mattered). When rejoining GLVAR, I was given information regarding those interested in serving as officers and/or members of the Board to submit their application by May 15th. Some may recall that I served on your Board for several years prior to moving and I can attest it is usually a thankless position for which you take time out of your business to attend to Board business. Yet, it is a very important responsibility and has significant impact on the membership, good or bad. Not everyone will be happy and I think the lack of concern by many members is sometimes more distressing. Board members sacrifice many hours in evaluating, debating and making judgements on items that will impact your business. Personally, I want the most informed, the most open minded making those choices to benefit all of the membership, not for any personal agenda.
Apathy is a word I would use for some of the membership as they usually are so disengaged from what the Board does and how it impacts them. From my experience, not only as a Board member but as an Executive Officer, you should care and be knowledgeable about the issues coming before your Board. The Board is the governance body of your association and reasonable, well informed directors and officers are needed to serve. Membership is no different than the general population in times of local and national elections. Horace Greely said “Apathy is a sort of living oblivion.” REALTOR® members cannot afford to be oblivious to elections as your business depends on your participation. You must educate yourself on who is running and what qualifies the candidate for the position they seek. Does the candidate stay involved and are they current on industry issues? Will the person attend the required meetings, read the agenda and be ready to listen to all the opinions, particularly the dissenting ones? Debates done in a respectful manner are healthy for the organization. I have a great deal of respect for people who can voice their opinions for the issues facing membership in a robust debate.
As a new member to the Board, it will take time to get their “Boardroom legs” under them, so to speak. While training is given, we are not instantly comfortable or knowledgeable about what we are to do. If the person you elect is clueless about issues facing our industry, they are ineffective in their representation of your interest in the board room. There is a learning curve but no one should be elected to serve the membership unless they are committed to research and study their duties as a Board member. Voting is more than just clicking a button, it is a judgement call based on your investigation on who will be best in serving all the membership, it is not a popularity contest.
Board members are not tasked with running the staff of the organization. It is the role of the Chief Executive Officer or Association Executive. But it is the duty of each Board member to be supportive of the staff and if issues arise, to take that information to the CEO. Simply stated, you are not the boss of the staff. Respect and clear delineation of duties will lead to a much more pleasant relationship for the CEO, the staff and Board members. Training will address critical points of information and if the person you elected fails to attend the workshop because they are “too busy,” then they have already let down the membership that elected them.
The bylaws establish the criteria for who is entitled and qualified to run. Character, honesty, integrity matter as does confidentially. Each board member must conduct themselves in a professional manner that embodies what a REALTOR® is and what the membership expects from them. It is the members who vote that determine who will serve them. Don’t you think that deserves some thoughtful consideration on your part to get the quality of leadership that you, as members, deserve? When the slate of candidates are announced, you will have plenty of time to become acquainted with them, sometimes at your office meetings or at the candidates’ events. The power for the kind of leaders you want rests in your hands; apathy and cynicism should never be a part of the equation.