Three NAR Presidents Share Their Leadership Tips

By Amy Konstas, Content Strategist,

RMag_At_MidYear1Call them the “leadership whisperers.” To a packed audience, three past presidents of NAR talked leadership and the qualities necessary to be a strong REALTOR® leader at today’s “Leadership Express” session at the 2010 Midyear Legislative Meetings & Expo in Washington D.C.

Those characteristics may surprise you. They did me. My pen poised, I was expecting bold pronouncements, such as the importance of being fearless or brave. And yes, those were mentioned as being key qualities for successful leaders. What resonated with me, though, was more subtle, but no less compelling: To be a good leader, you must be a good listener. In other words, understand your members. Learn what their needs are.

Dorcas Helfant-Browning, NAR’s 1992 past president, certainly did. The “three R’s” she mentioned are a good place to start:

  • Respect – for those you serve.
  • Recognition – people care if you care about them.
  • Recruit – encourage people to get involved.

Nestor Weigand Jr., NAR’s president in 1988, had a great piece of advice to share too: “Applause is not for you – it’s for the office of the president. Your members will appreciate you for understanding this.”

The relationship between members and leadership is an important one, as is the relationship between association management and leadership — a “mutual partnership,” as Dorcas called it, with the same goal of moving the association into the future. Both have essential, distinct roles in reaching that objective, she added.

Cathy Whatley, who served as NAR’s president in 2003, had a unique perspective, having served as an interim association executive on a local board. She credits this experience with enabling her to understand their management responsibilities better. And serving as president of the Florida Association of REALTORS® in 1996 was a huge opportunity for her to gather some important takeaways about leaders. Important ones include:

  • Everyone needs to feel appreciated and respected.
  • When you stop listening to members, they stop listening to you.
  • You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be real.

All in all, good advice … well worth listening to.

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at

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