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Chairman's Message (July/August 2011)
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Survive and thrive

By Mike McGraw

from the July/August 2011 issue of Orlando REALTOR® magazine


As the elections for ORRA leadership draw closer, the ORRA Qualifications Committee, chaired by ORRA Past President Kathleen Gallagher McIver, had a very difficult task: ensuring that all candidates who applied for a position met the established qualification requirements.

Strong leadership is essential for ORRA to survive and vital for it to thrive. What, you may ask, makes a strong association leader? Many people assume that there are "natural” leaders… people who have good character or charisma and whose leadership techniques would be effective. However as the song goes, "It ain’t necessarily so.” I have found — during my own years of experience in association leadership — that true leaders have a keen insight that helps them lead. They are concerned with doing what’s right, not with being right. I have also found that:

  • True leaders take chances and dare to be different;
  • Good leaders communicate well with everyone;
  • Leaders have people skills and a keen sense of human perspective;
  • True leaders have compassion;
  • Leaders have a sense of humor; and
  • The best leaders are optimists.

When the ORRA Qualifications Committee met, it assessed candidates for ten universally recognized traits of a leader: integrity, decisiveness, consensus-building ability, energy, self-confidence, communications skills, intelligence, enthusiasm, friendliness, and courage. Obviously some of these traits are inherent at birth, but some traits are developed and all can be improved.

The ORRA Qualifications Committee’s goal is to build a leadership team with strength and balance, and to match each position (chairman-elect, vice chairman, and director) with the candidate who possesses the most suitable characteristics. Candidates up for this year’s election are profiled in part on pages 10 and 11 of this issue. In addition, each candidate’s entire application is reproduced on

Voting will take place on the website; be sure to watch for your election e-ballot (e-mailed to you in early July and be sure to vote for the future leaders of ORRA.

Hopefully, this article has started you thinking about your own leadership goals and what plans you might put in place for the coming years. Current leadership and staffers are constantly on the lookout — at events, committee meetings, board of directors meetings, etc. — for individuals who appear to have leadership characteristics. A great way to get started is to sign up for a committee that interests you or to attend the annual ORRA Leadership Institute, which cultivates leadership qualities.

But what’s in it for you? While volunteering in any form is virtuous and noble, serving in a leadership capacity with a trade association can benefit your own bottom line as well as the organization and the industry. Holding a leadership position with ORRA:

  • increases your credibility with clients widens your networking circle;
  • exposes you to additional service providers; and
  • improves your communications and diplomacy skills.

General Eisenhower used to demonstrate the art of leadership with a simple piece of string. He’d put it on a table and say: Pull it and it’ll follow wherever you wish. Push it and it will go nowhere at all. It’s just that way when it comes to leading people.

Mike McGraw is ORRA’s 2011 chairman of the board and can be reached at

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