Adam Contos discussed managerial strategies in uncertain times, wearing his values on a T-shirt and volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos wears his values — which are also the franchisor’s values — on a T-shirt. When he took the helm of the company from its founder Dave Liniger, he developed the four key values of the company and during a time of uncertainty in the business, he’s been leaning on those values. 

The four tenents of RE/MAX are: Deliver to the max, be customer obsessed, do the right thing, and everybody wins.

“I love wearing that shirt, I’ve got it right over here in my closet and it’s one of my favorite things,” Contos said, at Inman Connect Now Thursday. “We have to own our values and if you don’t know what you’re values are, it’s time for everybody to reflect on that and make those your north star.”

Contos thinks the current environment — the COVID-19 pandemic and protests against police brutality and racism across the country — is forcing everybody to have a good, solid grasp on their values, instead of “just existing in society and allowing society to happen around you.”

During the discussion with Clelia Warburg Peters, the president of Warburg Realty in New York City, Contos, a retired police officer and marine, also used the term VUCA — a military college term from the 1980s — to address the current climate. He said using VUCA and VUCA-prime, a response to VUCA, can help everyone understand and live to their own values.

The term, derived to discuss post-Cold War battlefields, is an acronym that stands for “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.”

“It’s very much indicative of the societal pressures we’re dealing with today and it helps you understand the direction you can come from this to make our communities a better place,” Contos said.

The way leaders can address those pressures, Contos said, is a managerial term called VUCA Prime, a response to VUCA, where you change the acronym with words that confront the original terms.

Volatility, becomes vision, in VUCA Prime.

“A vision of a future that we all want to be a part of,” Contos said. “A vision of kindness, a vision of gratitude.”

Uncertainty becomes understanding — an understanding that it’s okay to be from different parts of society and that you can remove categorization through understanding. It’s a huge part of Fair Housing, Contos explained.

To defeat complexity, you need clarity, according to Contos.

“Right now, a lot of people are overwhelmed,” Contos said. “How do you solve overwhelm? Clarity.”

“When you don’t know where you’re going you can’t get there,” Contos added. “When you have clarity of the direction you’re going, it’s easier to move that way.”

The final step is confronting ambiguity with action, which is something real estate brokerages around the world need to do right now, Contos said.

“If we sit and we watch, we’re not taking action,” Contos said. “We can think all day long, but if we don’t take action, nothing happens.”

Email Patrick Kearns

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