Future leaders ‘speak up,’ talk politics

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May and June sessions of the Leadership Development Program

By Tara Howie, creative services specialist; and Kim Walker, public relations and media relations specialist

Like it or hate it, for Realtors® in leadership development, public speaking is a must. Program participants know that ultimately as leaders, they will be called upon to advocate and speak on behalf of their colleagues and the industry.  The Leadership Development Program (LDP) makes this oft hand-wrenching, nerve-wracking, butterfly-inducing task one that can be conquered and easily managed — with the help of teacher, business communicator and coach Lou Solomon and Interact Studios.

The May session, appropriately titled Leadership Enhancement, started early in Solomon’s sleek and modern studio facility. The atmosphere was calm, and as participants met to start the day, a cool Solomon observed, networked and inserted her laid-back style, making sure everyone was comfortable. The session began with jittery participants standing before their fellow classmates introducing themselves and inserting snippets of information that show their human and personal sides. Solomon critiqued the round and the individual conversations started over. Each round became a teaching moment, with participants subtly learning how to present themselves authentically. According to Solomon, authenticity — or your ability to “say something real” — is the tool that truly engages and allows an audience to “receive your message.”

With each round and critique, Solomon discovered and pointed out participants’ strengths. The class soon learned to use the tools of connection — figuring out how to “play big” to the audience, or use humor, uncomfortable pauses or hand gestures to “say something real.”

Ultimately, participants discovered how to harness their unique communication style and became more comfortable speaking in front of a group. Through their own stories and conversations in this session, they bonded as a class, learned more about themselves and how others see them, and departed as friends.

Group goes to Raleigh
The real estate industry has the potential to become more regulated and policy-driven. Sometimes the actions of lawmakers, county and city governments make it difficult for Realtors® to transact business and protect the American dream of homeownership. With so many changes underfoot, association leadership and its members must be knowledgeable of the current issues facing the industry not only locally, but also on the state and national level.

As part of the Advocacy in Action session of the program, the LDP class hopped on a bus with other members to participate in the 2012 North Carolina Association of Realtors® (NCAR) Legislative Day. They joined Realtors® from across the state in Raleigh to meet with state legislators and lobby on issues that affect the Realtor® community, and ultimately, homeownership.

LDP kicked off the day at the NCAR press conference and a meet-and-greet session with the NCAR Executive Committee: President Lou Baldwin, President-Elect Patrice Willits and Executive Vice President Andrea Bushnell. Future leaders also met NCAR President-Elect candidate Thomp Litchfield. Afterward, the group split up for individual visits with Reps. Rodney Moore, Becky Carney and Sen. Bob Rucho. House Speaker Thom Tillis rounded out the day by addressing the group in the N.C. General Assembly House Chamber.

A day jammed-pack with issues and politics concluded at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences over lunch with Adam Stallings, deputy legal counsel at the N.C. Real Estate Commission (NCREC).