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Paths to Leadership

Why Pursue Leadership

Jo Kenney

I am often asked why my work with Women's Council is so important to me. Even though there are as many reasons as there are members, perhaps the personal value can best be described as the benefits to be gained from serving in a leadership role.

Women's Council has long been recognized as the premiere organization for leadership skills training in real estate. Many of our members report that their leadership service on local and state boards of REALTORS® came about in large part due to leadership training received at Women’s Council. As well, we are well represented at the national level, and our membership includes Past NAR National Presidents Vicki Cox Golder (2010) and Cathy Whatley (2003).

We asked some of our members who have achieved prominent leadership positions to describe the value that their leadership experiences have brought to them. Though their answers are varied, they all seem to share a common thread – it's about relationships.

Elizabeth Mendenhall, 2012 chair of NAR's Strategic Planning Committee, shared that, "Leadership challenges you to think about ideas from multiple perspectives and see a bigger picture. One of the best rewards to committing to take on a leadership role is encouraging and helping the development of others." So true! Our responsibility as leaders is to recognize, mentor and position our successors for leadership positions.

Sherri Meadows, 2012 Florida REALTORS® Vice President, says good leaders inspire others to have confidence in their leadership. However, "Great leaders inspire others to have confidence in themselves," she said. "Leadership has allowed me to network with REALTORS® from around the country and form strong relationships that benefit my career, as well as my personal life. I have a passion for sharing and helping people grow, which allows me to grow in the process too! These connections in life and business are invaluable to me." 

I share that value with Sherri. The personal benefit of leadership, for me, is the ability to work with, learn from and grow with other leaders. As I move forward on the path of leadership, my confidence has grown, my skills have been refined and I have the invaluable gift of making great friends, who will always be part of the fabric of my life's experience. 

NAR's 2003 National President Cathy Whatley shares that, "Leadership has helped me learn how to manage my own expectations regarding outcomes. I have also found that whenever I have been given an opportunity to lead, through that experience I have gained knowledge, expertise and personal contacts that have helped me better represent my real estate customers and clients." 

We are all leaders in our lives – with our families, our colleagues, our clients and our communities. We exercise leadership without knowing it, but when you are ready to start on the path of leadership training and growth, you already have some innate talents and experience.

Brenda Ghibaudi, Women's Council's 2004 president says, "My leadership path began with Women's Council some 25 years ago filled with passion and commitment. Leaders model the way for others and must have a clear vision and firm belief to earn the respect of others. They are the spark that lights the fire and the glue that holds a team together. It is so important to sit at the table that will be making decisions for our profession now and in the future."

And being a leader involves being a mentor. As John Maxwell says, "Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less." Deborah Gilmore, our 2010 Women's Council president, has a true handle on that symbiotic relationship between mentor and leader, as she says, "Leadership is the incredible opportunity using 'reciprocal influence' to exercise a vision to better an organization or group and work with outstanding leaders as a team to accomplish goals. These two leadership actions and skills create and develop a personal and professional confidence that will open doors throughout your life."

So be open to the possibilities for you to participate in any leadership capacity. As they say, you will receive so much more back than you give.

Jo Kenney
National Recording Secretary
Keller Williams Realty
Atlanta, GA

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