Five Questions With: Ron Phipps

January 28, 2020

- By Ron Phipps

Lessons From the Leadership Chair

This issue’s “Five Questions With” features Ron Phipps, ABR, CRS, ePro, GRI, GREEN. Ron is a Broker licensed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. He first became a REALTOR® in 1978 and has significant experience in Association Leadership. The managing broker for Phipps Realty, Ron works with a talented multi-lingual team. Ron was the 2011 President for the National Association of REALTORS®.

1. What are some leadership qualities you gained during your time as President of NAR?

Patience is the first lesson of leadership. It serves everyone well.  Purpose: You must know your why, the why of the organization, and the why of your members.  You cannot lead people and create buy-in if you do not know them and know their why. Passion: You can overcome almost any issue with passionate leadership. Lead with your heart, execute with your mind.  Finally, inclusion is not just a good thing to do, it is a strategic thing to do.  You will get superior outcomes with a diverse team.

2. What surprised you most about being President?

You need to engage what situations actually present themselves, rather than the things/projects you really want to do.  Stuff has a way of getting in the way of your plans.  In 2011, our team was dealing with the great recession. Clear leadership goal: help our members survive and get through the challenge.  That took priority.  It was not what our team really wanted to do.  The team was creative and visionary, we just had to focus those skills differently.

3. What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get into a leadership role in their brokerage or association?

Meet the decision-makers and get involved in the projects of your interests, competence, and expertise – MLS, advocacy, etc. We need people actively engaged in the business to be making the decisions.  What surprised me most is that this organization welcomes talent on all three levels.  The challenge is determining which doors are the best entries.  Which brings me to an important point – have mentors.  All of us do, and our success is the result of great mentoring.  No leader does it well without great mentors.

4. What is the most challenging part about leading a team of people?

Make sure you hear them: Active listening.  They will not follow you if you are not listening to them.  Leadership is a conversation. Communication between the leader and the team. You are talking ‘with’ not ‘at’ your team members.

5. What are the most important decisions you need to make as a leader?

Choose the best people you can find, smarter, and more effective than you. Great leaders choose the best and the brightest to work with them.  You can handle anything with the right team.  Also, make sure you are engaging your professional staff.  You can do amazing things when you work together.

6. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A. Share the credit of success with the team. Own failure. You cannot get to fix until you assess blame. The President/Chair must assume blame when something happens and move to fix.

B. Identify and train your successors. Your greatest ‘influence’ will be felt in the leaders you bring to the table. Additionally, your successor should do a better job as Chair or President than you did. Effective leaders have more effective successors.