July, 2003
From the ASHI President.
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Looking for Future Leaders

RICHARD C. MATZEN

Recently I received an e-mail from Headquarters with a note announcing we had 6100 Members and Candidates. The following week the Finance Com-mittee met to consider a budget of well over $3 million this year.

Between these events, I spent a morning talking on the phone about several groups working on branding.

I also saw proofs for the INSPECTPAC brochure. With the completion of our PAC, we will be performing another task of great significance to the profession.

This month, we are in Washington DC, where the Board will meet and officers and staff will visit congressional delegations, and visit the GAO to discuss progress on investigations into real estate flipping.  

The complexity within ASHI and in our business and legislative world has changed dramatically in recent years. When I began volunteering, ASHI was younger and in the process of emerging. ASHI rewarded individual initiative. A guy with a great idea put together a plan, consulted with staff and leadership, then ran with it. That’s no longer true.

In the last generation, ASHI has grown and those self-starting, individualist, creative characteristics are not valued as highly. In 2003, ASHI is far more structured, organized and divided into its component divisions. ASHI follows a highly-crafted, strategic plan that is divided into action steps for committees that forward well-organized programs for implementation. The Board of Directors is then free to develop strategic visions for ASHI’s future.

Required leadership skills have changed as ASHI has become more sophisticated. Leaders need to be capable of providing focus when there are challenges on every front. They need to be highly skilled at developing well-balanced organizational policies. Leaders need to provide supervision that is insightful, and that stimulates the next group of leaders. They need to be skilled in resource allocation in a world filled with demands and limited resources.

This discussion leads to the question: Where will ASHI find its leaders for the next generation? Leaders are selected by two nominating committees drawn from our Council of Representatives. One committee selects Officers and the other Directors.

Our membership is composed of home inspectors, who know a great deal about how homes are constructed and how homes wear out, but often are not well trained to run an organization as complex as ASHI.

Our nominating committees use a team approach, a team composed of volunteers and our professional staff. This gives us a balanced insight into the nominees’ skills. Inspectors tend to see each other in a social context, often at the annual conference or in committee or chapter meetings. There is no substitute for the insight an inspector brings to the evaluation of another inspector.

The staff brings insight into the inspector’s business skills, his prowess at written communication, and his skills at working within a complex organization.

The challenge for these committees is to select candidates who bring skills that are valuable when working with government agencies and state bodies, to select candidates who can examine organizational priorities and prioritize constrained budgets, to select candidates that have strengths where organizational planning for the long term is done.

Our great challenge is to select leaders from among home inspectors, those who have the unique ability to move well among inspectors, as well as administrators to produce success as they cooperate with each other in our complex of systems. This is increasingly true each year as stress seems to be a constant companion for our leaders.

Our members play a key first step in the selection of leaders. When working in groups or chapters or on a committee, a member can identify those on committees who are skilled and are prominent, but don’t tend to seek out leadership. We can encourage this type of member to continue in leadership.  

I will never forget when I completed my membership process, the chair of my peer review group asked me directly to get involved. Let’s ask people to get involved and encourage the best to go forward.

Watch for those who seem to see broad perspectives and those who seem to be able to draw many points of view toward the center. Lastly, look for those folks who enjoy groups and have an ability to cause others to enjoy groups too. These folks make leadership a pleasure.

If we encourage the best of our community to move forward, the nominating committees can select a balance of nominees who encompass those skills that will cause our complex, fast-changing Society to respond well to the challenges before us.