There was a collective gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands by some Associations when MLS of Choice became the law of the land. We saw the same thing happen when the National Association of Realtors (NAR) adopted Core Standards for local and state associations.
Yet these changes had little effect on most associations or MLSs. Why? Simple answer: good leadership.
As our industry continues evolving, expectations of those in power will evolve along with it, and leaders will be held to a higher standard like those outlined in the Parker Principles — the real estate manifesto established at Inman Disconnect. Parker Principle no. 3, for example, reads, “Create a transparent chain of industry accountability to benefit the consumer.”
Leaders of the future will increasingly find themselves accountable to every thriving agent and hopeful customer, and here’s what new leadership should look like:
We need leaders that actually lead
Leaders of Realtor associations and MLSs need to actually be leaders, instead of simply handing off their duties to the people hired to manage the daily tasks associated with running an association or MLS.
The officers and board of directors will sometimes need to redefine the roles of the employer and the employees. That will not be an easy task, particularly if the previous board let their governing duties go by the wayside.
All too often, any talks of a merger, MLS data sharing or other majors changes are derailed by CEOs, executive directors and staff, who are primarily concerned about job security.
Today’s leaders must not be minions
Despite pushback from outdated boards and staff, these new leaders will need to understand and embrace the future of the real estate industry and what is best for their members.
The days of a good ol’ boys club running things in the background for their own benefit are fast becoming history. The closed “smoke-filled room” must be opened, aired out and made transparent. New leaders will need to put their members, association and MLS first — there is no longer any room for personal agendas and self-serving business practices.
Leaders can’t drink the Kool-Aid
In some cases, the process of choosing new leaders will have to change. Far too often, future leaders are chosen not by their leadership qualities or new ideas, but by their willingness to perpetrate the status quo.
Many associations and MLSs have a vetting process for candidates. Instead of choosing candidates based on their leadership skills and openness to new ideas, they are chosen based on their willingness to drink the status quo Kool-Aid.
Good examples of this are the associations that clung to MLS Policy 7.42 and only allowed leaders who thought the same way. These associations and MLSs only existed because they could force people to join their association-owned MLS. That golden goose has just died, and financial havoc now awaits the associations that didn’t see the train of change coming.
Leadership must be transparent and impactful
Parker Principle no. 6 states the industry must demand real estate associations be more transparent and impactful. “We should create a culture and process that ensures every association member has an equal opportunity to be fully informed of key issues and to lead the organization,” Inman wrote.
“Focus money and effort on creating a healthy real estate market. Simplify the association’s role to a focus on creating opportunities for agents to sell more real estate. Encourage agents to take a more active role in their communities to make a difference in housing costs and community quality of life.”
Leadership should be diverse
Parker Principle no. 8 calls for “inclusion and diversity” in leadership.
“In the boardrooms, in the executive suite, on stages and in strategy gatherings, the industry at the top must reflect the overall diversity of business,” Inman wrote. “A new generation of leaders are ready to take over and they should be celebrated and empowered to do so.”
Overcome the politics
The future of the real estate world is consolidations, mergers and MLS data sharing. However, these are often hampered by people and politics. The new breed of leaders will need to move beyond that, and they’ll need to successfully implement the positive, innovative ideas that make them great leaders.
Good leaders follow the example of winners
The good news is that there are success stories happening weekly. Leaders of the Arizona Regional MLS (ARMLS) and Metro MLS in Wisconsin, the largest MLSs in their states, just announced they are forming a strategic joint venture.
In another innovative move, eight multiple listings services covering about 325,000 agents and brokers nationwide have unveiled a new strategy to update their infrastructure.
Even though these MLSs don’t share geographic borders, members of the MLS RoundTable (MLSRT) are moving to make major changes that will make the MLS more efficient.
With the right leaders, the future is bright.
These are exciting times for the real estate industry. With the right leadership, we will embrace these changes while overcoming the challenges.
Editor’s note: This story has been edited to further clarify the Parker Principles.