The Path Less Traveled

PathA few months ago I attended the NAR Association Executives Institute (AEI) and was very fortunate to attend Steve Murray’s (of REAL TRENDS) session. Something he said really resonated with me “You have an equally valid claim on the agent”. He was referencing the relationship the association has with its member, that is was no less than the relationship an agent had with his broker, not more important just different and equal. This caused me to think about the relationship a member of the board of directors has with the association executive and the association itself. There does indeed exist a “claim” and with that a responsibility. In the REALTOR® world there is the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. Steve’s session made me think about the one facet that is missing in the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, “A DUTY TO MEMBERSHIP”. For those unfamiliar the REALTOR® Code of Ethics includes a 1) Duty to the Clients & Customers 2) Duty to the Public 3) Duty to REALTORS®, what about a duty to the association and its membership? I had this AHA! Moment that spoke to me and said what about the duty to the association? If in fact, the association does have a relationship with the REALTOR® of relevant status. Within seconds I had scribbled down Articles for the Duty to Membership. As I left the session I shared it with a few Association Execs and they asked me for a copy. So here it is…

Duty to Association

Article 1– The member has a duty to represent the profession in a professional and ethical manner through his/her affiliation with the association

Standards of Practice (SOP) 1. Respect the role of the designated spokesperson(s) for the organization. Do not represent the association if you were not given the specific authority to do so

SOP 2. Do not publicly chastise other members, members of the Board of Directors, association staff, or the association itself on social media

SOP 3. Do not make false or misleading statements about the association or its staff

SOP 4. As a director of the board act with the members in mind, not with the desires of your brokerage

SOP 5. Ensure adequate resources to train and pay association staff to ensure the membership receives competent, effective service

ARTICLE 2– The member has an ethical duty to respect and honor the role of affiliates and sponsors in their delivery of member programs and services

SOP 1.  Do not publicly chastise or criticize affiliates and sponsors on social media

SOP 2. Respectfully listen to affiliate or sponsor presentations

SOP 3.  Although not a requirement,   thank affiliates and sponsors for the programming and services they provide and be aware of which industry related businesses are investing time and dollars into your career

ARTICLE 3-  When serving on the Board of Directors of the association, the member has an ethical duty to the staff the association employs through objective, non-personal, oversight and through such objective assessment and oversight provides the member with competent and consistent staff

SOP1. Ensure salaries are at market rate

SOP 2. Respect the Association Executive/Staff relationship. Do not interfere. The board’s role is to evaluate the performance of the executive not the staff

SOP 3. Utilize a vetted performance evaluation tool to evaluate the performance of the chief staff executive (CSE). Keep personal preferences or sentiments out of the professional process

SOP 4. Establish quantifiable performance objectives for the CSE, such objectives shall be agreed upon, in writing, by the CSE and the Board of Directors

SOP 5. When hiring a CSE utilize a vetted hiring process or professional recruiting firm

SOP 6. Respect and honor the terms of the CSE’s contract, specifically be aware that merely being on salary does not give the board the right to unfettered access to the CSE. Use common sense avoid contact after the work day and work week unless there is an emergency. Your failure to plan is not the CSE’s emergency. Emergencies can be defined as weather emergencies (tornado, earthquake, etc.), death of a board member or staffer, political emergencies such as a publicized misstep by a board member or any negative media attention, destruction of the building by flood, fire or excess snow. Anything else can wait till the workday or workweek begins.

SOP 7. Establish leadership competence with a required 2.5 hours of leadership training

So there it is… a process to ensure professionalism within the association. As an ending note professionalism starts with how a person treats the people who support them.


2 thoughts on “The Path Less Traveled

    1. Thank you Pat- I could not agree more! Please share it with others if you are so inclined. It is odd because this “duty” is a fiduciary, the only ethical tenet that members (especially boards of directors) are legally required to follow and yet it is missing from our code of ethics. As an academic, a student of organizational management and leadership, I understand that there are three components to the act of leadership: Leaders and Followers and the integrated synthesis of the interaction- the “act of leadership”. If leaders desire an effective organization then they must take responsibility for the followers not just the clients they serve, not just the public in general, not just other members, but the people who serve (follow) them. I appreciate the time you took to reply, I personally know how busy AEs are! If this topic is of interest to you – please consider participating in my doctoral study- the link can be found here: Participate in a doctoral study


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