Realtor group at home building leadership skills


Thursday is graduation day for the HAAR Class of 2019 – all 12 members.

These “graduates” have been in class one day a month since January, with the exception of July.

Already on the job, these professionals are graduating members of the inaugural Hattiesburg Area Association of Realtors Leadership Academy. The brainchild of Jane and Dick Kingsafer, Realtors with RE/MAX Real Estate Partners, the couple came up with ideas that could help participants in their professional life.

“While there may be other such local groups across the state, I don’t know of any,” Jane Kingsafer said. “It’s been my baby. Dick and I started working on this in July 2018.”

Jane explained that it’s a broker’s responsibility to make sure their employees are responsible for real estate knowledge. The series of seminars is aimed to build a network of leaders for the Realtors’ organization.

“We wanted to help teach these Realtors how to become leaders in business, their personal life and through their livelihood, the real estate business,” said Jane, who hopes the sessions the academy offers will provide a foundation for other important life lessons.

The learning experience is designed to train, nurture and inspire tomorrow’s leaders.

HAAR Leadership Academy participants work together in a training course that combines individual study, group sessions, team-building exercises, goal setting, personal profile analyses, network building and communication skills.

During the training sessions, a series of respected regional instructors and leadership volunteers help guide the class through the fundamentals of what every good leader needs to know.

Each year’s class is limited to 20 real estate professionals from across the Greater Hattiesburg area. Those interested in the program must submit an application which is reviewed by an advisory panel.

Aug. 14 was the group’s final of six sessions. The topic for the day was Professionalism, Engaging Members for Leadership and Involvement, Team Building. Other sessions throughout the course have included: Robert’s Rules of Order; DISC Profiles by Kathy Whitfield of Compass Consulting; Why and How to Contribute to the Community by Joe Paul with Mayor Toby Barker’s office; Pine Grove Behavioral Center Ropes Course; leadership webinar, Effective Leadership; More Than Being Just the Boss, by Leigh Brown, who runs one of the top real estate teams in the country In Concord, N.C., and is also an author; and “Acting the Part,” by Hattiesburg resident and University of Southern Mississippi alum Linda Montgomery, a graduate of The Protocol School of Washington, the only nationally-accredited business etiquette and international protocol school in the nation.

“I hope this will help these individuals in becoming a leader, not only on the local level with HAAR, but also to move up to the state and national levels. Kingsafer said both the state and national levels have their own leadership academies.

“I hope with a foundation like this it will help,” she said.

A new leadership academy has been endorsed by the HAAR and will begin in January 2020. There will be a whole different program and different speakers and the Leadership Academy Advisory Board will be looking at how things can be better in 2020.

Kingsafer said this first year has helped maneuver some of the bumps in the road that you encounter when you have something new.

One change for the next class will be that no sessions will be held after May.

“It gets too hot, there are vacations and a lot of interruptions,” Kingsafer said.

Academy participants are provided with a notebook which included an agenda for the duration of the program, contact information for participants, a recommended book list, biographies on each of the session presenters, as well as a place to take notes.

At today’s graduation set for 11:30 a.m. at Southern Oaks in Hattiesburg. Two class members will be named to the advisory board and other star students will be recognized.

Anna Marie Saulters with Re/Max Real Estate Partners is one of today’s graduates. She believes the program has already benefitted her in her job.

“It’s helped me to make better connections with other Realtors,” she said. “Networking is an important aspect of being a Realtor, and this program has made me more confident in doing that.”

Because the academy members are in the same profession, the group as a whole has a lot of the same challenges and goals, according to Saulters. Due to this, they were able to apply what they learned to the same parts of their careers.

“We are able to take challenges such as the ropes course we did, and apply that metaphor into our lives both as real estate agents and into our personal lives,” she said.

Saulters’ favorite session was the one on etiquette by Montgomery.

“As Realtors, it is extremely important that we show professionalism,” she said. “We need to be aware of the proper ways to act while at business meetings and luncheons. This course did a wonderful job of explaining some of the key features to remaining professional.”

Saulters would encourage other members of her profession to participate in the Leadership Academy.

“Not only are the sessions educational and applicable to our everyday lives, but it is also an incredible way to make connections with other Realtors so that you can further your career that way as well,” he said.

Josie Gibbons, a Realtor with Realty Executives in Hattiesburg, said the Leadership Academy has challenged the class members to raise the bar of excellence within the real estate field.

“It has helped to strengthen our skill sets and taught us to be more proficient in our profession as we learn to work well together,” he said.

Since the Leadership Academy is comprised of only Realtors, Gibbons said participants are able to narrow their focus to include only the items most beneficial to their profession.

“It has helped to discuss various challenges with other Realtors and gain perspective by seeing how other professionals deal with each situation,” he said.

Gibbons feels the program has been well rounded with topics from training on personal leadership and community involvement to training on leading effective meetings and proper business etiquette.

“I greatly enjoyed the session led by Joe Paul about why and how we contribute to our community,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons encourages other Realtors who want to be a leader within the real estate profession, or simply in their community, to go through the HAAR Leadership Academy.

“It provided invaluable insight into how our association operates and the impact that we have within our community,” he said.

Other graduates include: Dakota Delozier, Bridgett Farris, Brittany Lanehart (RE/MAX Real Estate Partners), Allison Deus (Century 21 Alliance), Kirby Harrell, Real Estate Aces, Danielle Jordan, Dennis Pierce Inc., Gabriel Miller, Kristi Shorts (EXIT Southern Realty) and Lisa Wells (Wells Realty LLC).