In this final part of our abbreviated Association Maximization series we will discuss leadership for both builders and associates. I hope you enjoyed the first 7 parts as much as I enjoyed writing them.

College gives a graduate the necessary knowledge to function in their chosen professions. It takes time to learn the chosen discipline when it comes to the real world because college gives you “book smarts” while the real world teaches you “street smarts” or, more to the point, “industry smarts.”

I don’t know how many people in our home building and remodeling industry have a college degree or any years spent in college but when it comes to this particular industry a college degree is great but it doesn’t prepare you for the challenges of this noble profession. The ultimate education, for the home building industry, is HBA leadership. The time, which certainly is money, you spend learning about the industry prepares you like no college can.
There is a worn out “joke” that is always used about builders and being president that builders always go bankrupt after they have served. Unfortunately some have but it’s not because of the HBA leadership role. Multiple factors may have caused this; economic conditions, poor management skills, poor time management skills or even the fact that maybe they should not have been a builder. Who really knows but I do know that it wasn’t being president that did it. Yes, it does take time to be a leader let alone president. By blending the following benefits of leadership into the way you conduct business, for both builders and associates, you will understand that serving as officers and board members you will gain immeasurable quality in return:

  1. Direct knowledge of industry threats or trends. In the meeting rooms of local, state or NAHB board of directors what could possibly affect the building industry is discussed and strategic plans are implemented. Knowing how certain or multiple items can affect the industry prepares you and your company for those affects. If it affects the building industry it has a direct affect on your business (this sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). As a general member you will get the same information but the amount of thought and discussion that went into the releasing of that information to the general membership is the education you , as a leader, receive. Your time spent volunteering at the leadership level should not be considered wasted time by you. It should, in fact, be considered education of the real world. The time spent and the knowledge gained is invaluable.
  2. Working knowledge of government. In your role as an HBA leader you will be asked to be involved with your state legislators or your state’s federal legislators. This places you in direct contact with the lawmakers meaning you are building relationships with those who can control your career, your destiny. I can’t place a dollar amount for your return on your investment here either. This is another benefit of leadership that is invaluable.
  3. Your career or business improvement and direction. Learning about this industry from all angles prepares you, makes you more in tune with trends that can make your company stand out. It gives you a road map for your company’s, or your personal, short term and long term plans. The direct knowledge you gain as a leader could save years of retooling, restructuring, reinventing yourself and company. Once again, invaluable.
  4. Relationships that last a lifetime. The leadership level brings you into a family style environment. Like any large family, there are people you like and people that you don’t like. Just like a family, your personal feelings are put a side when turmoil or crisis hits. The bonds become stronger and the relationships get deeper. Leadership at this level brings that social capital I spoke about to a higher plane. Say it with me…. INVALUABLE.

If you properly time mange the risks are minimal and the benefits are enormous. Not everyone is a leader and that’s fine although everyone has certain leadership skills inside them. It maybe that you are not as confident as you’d like to be or maybe you don’t relish the idea of public speaking. Added benefits of HBA leadership would be that you will develop a more confident attitude and as you get to know the members at this level you will speak with confidence as well. Time and gradual participation is all that’s needed and you ascend at your desired pace.

Stepping away from what’s been written there is another reason for you to become a leader. Your industry needs you. We need new ideas, fresh takes on situations, new faces with raw and exciting passion that only comes from the beginning. The next generation of leadership will decide the future of our building industry. These new leaders will be properly mentored in what has worked and what hasn’t worked. The new leaders will listen to the past, pay attention to the present and craft strategies for a better future of home building and remodeling. Don’t look at the “ask” of being involved on the board or as an officer to be a burden to you or your family. Look at it as a great business asset that will enable your family to have a great life. Today’s 21st century leader has enormous advantages that the past did not have. With the rise of social media and instant contact time management abilities have skyrocketed. When your local, state or NAHB leaders come to you to discuss your HBA future, listen to what they have to say.

Becoming an HBA leader now may not be the right time but it is absolutely the right direction for anyone whose passion and career is in the building industry.

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair
Director of Trade Association Relations, ProBuild