Writer and university professor Peter Drucker once said, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." Are you settling for doing things right or are you also doing the right things?

One of my all time favorite quotes is the one that defines integrity as being "what you do when no one is looking."

There have always been people in our industry who bend the rules or who break the law. Each of us has numerous opportunities throughout the course of the day to "do the right thing and to do it right."

What’s sad is how many people are choosing to lie, plagiarize or misrepresent the truth in order to achieve their personal goals. Here are just a few examples.

  • "I’ve been observing that some of our younger agents will promise their clients anything to get the business and then they don’t deliver. When you confront them about it and explain this is poor business, they shrug if off as if it’s no big deal."
  • "I’ve started checking the facts on the resumes of everyone we talk to before we hire them. I can’t believe how many people submit resumes that are packed with misrepresentations about their experience, education and past salaries."
  • "I can’t believe how many people are ripping off my work. I’ve been on a number of social media panels and have openly shared some of the things we are doing. We use software to track where our materials are being used. I have been shocked at the huge number of people who take our exact posts from our website, blog, and our social media sites, slap their names on the material, and post it on their sites with no acknowledgment. Sometimes they will change the paragraph order, but that’s about it. It’s really frustrating when you put that much time and effort into building your business and others steal your work."

The next time you are tempted to use a picture you didn’t take, to copy a post you didn’t write, to bend the truth, or to promise someone something you have no intention of delivering, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. You attract who you are
From a coaching perspective, we are drawn to people who are like us. In other words, "Like attracts like." If you cut corners, lie to your clients, or fail to deliver on what you promise, you are going to attract clients who mirror those same characteristics.

On the other hand, when your work is based upon service and doing the best job you possibly can to help the people you work with, you will attract people who share that same ethic.

2. It takes years to build a reputation and a single misstep to destroy it
Real estate is a tough business with tremendous potential for problems and litigation. Even if you are exceedingly careful and do the right thing, a single mistake can ruin your career.

Consequently, you must be proactive in monitoring your reputation online. Tools such as Google Alerts, StepRep.com, and ReputationDefender.com all provide ways for you to monitor what is being said about you. When something does go wrong, take immediate steps to correct the situation before it escalates. Contact the people involved and ask, "What can I do to fix this?"

3. The short view vs. the long view
I remember being in a dual-agency situation on a million-dollar REO. If the bank couldn’t sell this brand-new hillside property, it would be taken over by the FDIC. An attorney came in during an open house and wrote an offer.

Even though the property had been built completely to code and passed stringent geological and building inspections, the buyer’s geology report came back saying that the hill above the property could collapse in a major rainstorm. The builder and the original geologist who worked on the project said it was no problem.

I told the buyer that she had three options: she could obtain another inspection report; she could believe the builder and his geologist; or she could walk from the deal. She chose to walk away. The bank was taken over by the FDIC and I lost the listing. Three months later, the hillside above collapsed in a major rainstorm causing more than $100,000 in damages. I was really grateful that attorney was not living in the property.

4. Maintain your standards
If you’re struggling to pay your bills, you may opt to work with a client you normally wouldn’t represent. When you take an overpriced listing or work with a buyer who has little or no motivation, those clients drain you of your time and energy. If your business is clogged with poorly motivated clients, there is no room for better business to appear.

A great way to attract more high-quality business is to create more space. For example, you can refer an unrealistic seller to another agent or you can stop working with buyers who never seem to find the right home. You can also clean your closet, clean your desk, or clean your garage.

The act of creating more space in your life actually attracts new business. For those of you who are skeptical, you might recall the last time you planned a long vacation. You had all that space in your schedule, and what happened the week before you left? Your business got very busy.

The question each of us faces on a daily basis is how we choose to conduct our business. Will you choose to do the right thing and to do things right, or will you choose something else?

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