Inman is exploring what the future of real estate leadership should look like through a series of articles, Q&As with industry pros and an upcoming five-part series called Leadership Week. Please send your feedback to email@example.com. If you’re a leader who wants to join us for our exclusive Disconnect in the Desert event on March 26-28, or want to recommend a colleague, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org explaining why.
Whether you’re a brokerage, an agent-led team or an individual agent, you probably have never given any thought to two key, but virtually invisible, components of leadership — what is required to create a space where success can occur and the “glue” that it takes to hold it all together.
As real estate’s thought leaders prepare to meet in Palm Springs for Disconnect in the Desert, Brad Inman has been “obsessing over leadership in real estate.” Those of us attending Disconnect have received links to articles such as Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles as well as the military’s “11 Leadership Principles” that dates back to 1948.
Inman has also surveyed its readers to discover what they expect from their leaders, while contributors have been penning posts with their takes on leadership.
What virtually all books, articles and seminars on leadership address is the “how to,” and the “who you need to be.” There is no discussion, however, about a third component that is vital to leadership: creating the “space” where leadership can occur in the first place.
The ‘space’ at Disconnect
At Disconnect in the Desert, Brad Inman is creating the space where the industry’s thought leaders will gather to ultimately create “The Real Estate Leadership Manifesto.” But what goes into that process?
Inman staff will spend tremendous amounts of time coordinating the hundreds of details that are required to conduct a successful conference.
This includes identifying, vetting and prepping moderators and speakers; all the details about the stage, video and AV; badges, food and drinks for events; and this year, nature hikes, horseback riding or visiting a museum to break away from the traditional “space” where real estate conferences generally occur.
In this case, the staff and the moderators, are holding the space for the conversation, connection and networking to occur.
Creating the agent team ‘space’
To illustrate a slightly different notion of “space,” consider how the team model of real estate evolved beginning with Gary Keller’s The Millionaire Real Estate Agent.
The book outlined the steps required to become a “seventh-level business owner” by developing an agent team.
Keller Williams then created an environment (space) that was user-friendly to teams, had specific systems to follow in creating a team, trained its agents on those tools and systems, and encouraged agents to co-brand their team on equal footing with the Keller Williams brand. In other words, it created a space where teams could thrive.
By the same token, the brokerage creates a space, a container if you will, that also enables its agents to conduct transactions.
This includes staff, maintenance of the physical office, the regulatory requirements the brokerage must follow, the technology systems, the company website, plus whatever other services the brokerage provides.
Without the brokerage, agents lacking a broker’s license would be unable to conduct transactions.
Creating brokerage culture
When it comes to brokerage leadership, culture is key. But how does a broker create culture?
One critical component is how the leader sets up the space: Is it collaborative or competitive? Revenue focused or customer focused? Does it have a flat or a hierarchal organization, etc.?
Other aspects include the types of people the leader hires to fill that space as well as the policies, procedures and systems that allow the brokerage and the people within the space to function in it.
Leaders need space and ‘glue’
Although the “space” issues are visible, the “glue,” (what holds everything together), is invisible and normally goes unnoticed until something goes wrong.
For example, agents are often the glue that keeps feuding buyers and sellers in the deal when both parties are demanding to cancel.
In terms of brokerage leadership, the unsung heroes and heroines are often the leader’s “right-hand” person whose responsibility is to keep everything together and running smoothly.
They organize the leader’s life, serve as gatekeepers, free the leader up from the details that would pull them off focus and help the leader stay on track when they’re in danger of running off the rails.
Other parts of the “glue” include the staff member who can always be counted on to go the extra mile when an agent needs a quick turnaround on a project, the agents who support each other by providing opinions of value or the person who always bakes a cake for the monthly office birthday party.
This “glue” leads to trust and can even result in what many brokers and agents call “their business family.”
As I noted in my column several weeks ago, based on over 50 interviews with successful women brokers from across the country, agents want to know that their broker “has their back.”
Furthermore, many agents enjoy being part of a business family that works together, plays together and contributes to the community.
Important questions for your business
- What is the nature of the “space” in your brokerage? Is it the right fit for you?
- Who holds space for you so that you can be better in your role, regardless if you are an agent, manager, team lead or broker?
- Which individuals are the “glue” in your business and personal life — the ones you can really count on, no matter what?
When you identify who is holding space for you and providing the glue in your business or personal life, take the time to express your thanks for how those people make your life and your business better.
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP (brokerageup.com) and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.