It is said that music is the language of the soul. A universal tongue, spoken in countless variations of dialect. Every instrument has it’s own particular rhythm of communication. As a young girl, growing up in West Africa, the drum was a central component of the musical dialog in a literal and figurative sense.
The ‘Talking Drum’ is a unique element within African cultural heritage. Drumming is a highly developed skill in native cultures as a means of communication, not just an instrument for social enjoyment. Historically, the talking drum was used to introduce new arrivals, announce departures and transmit information that was important to the society.
This past year, I’ve served in the position of President-Elect of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors®. Throughout the year, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with brokers, agents as individuals and in groups…listening to their concerns and gaining insights into the dynamics of our industry.
As I’ve listened to the groundswell, the process has reminded me of how the message is carried by the the beat of the talking drum. Each beat carries it’s own unique message and when added to the whole creates a message. In the same way, the different voices in my real estate community have provided insight about ways in which we can all work together to re-invent our industry in a way that works to the benefit of our community and members.
Leading with an ear to the ground has also involved touching base with individuals through social media portals such as Facebook and Twitter as well as blogging. Drumming is a social activity, one in which the message of the beat enhances the contributions of the other instruments as well as the vocals. One thing which has emerged very clearly for me is the fact that although our industry is comprised of many different segments often with competing interests, we can align ourselves in sync with the rhythmic interests we all share and combine our best efforts to deal with the economic challenges facing our communities today.
I was recently interviewed for an article in the Grand Rapids Press, our local paper. As the article notes, my election is in many ways historic as the first person of color to occupy the position of President in the Associations 117 history. It’s also remarkable to reflect on the fact that this election was not primarily about the color of my skin, but rather members of my professional community were also acknowledging the contributions that they have witnessed over the past 15 years.
My goal this year is to continue to ‘lead with an ear to the ground’. I appreciate the rich diversity that is a part of our community and know that we need all hands on deck to deal with the challenges ahead.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview with Cami Reister, the reporter from the Grand Rapids Press which can be read in it’s entirety online:
On Audu’s leadership style…
“Over the past year I’ve been reaching out to brokers,” she said, seeking a sense of what is needed and important. “I lead with my ear to the ground.”
From that research she is launching her tenure with four priorities:
• Supporting brokers through education and professional development.
• Ensuring the financial health of the association by seeking efficiencies and strategic alliances.
• Developing a leadership track for young members and staying current with the changing market.
• Giving back to the community through “50,000 Points of Light.”
Audu is challenging members to avoid focusing on the negative aspects of the business and instead dedicate 60 hours of service each over the next year.
“We can either wallow in self pity, or we can take up arms and go out and gift our community service,” she said. “If I get 50 percent who give 60 hours, five hours a month, we can do this. We can do more than this.
“Leadership is not just about making money, it’s about serving people.”