Like any other professional skill, leadership is a competency that can be refined and developed throughout your career, according to The Agency’s Rainy Hake Austin. Grab your guiding compass of core values, communicate with your teammates clearly, and move forward with the mindset and skillset you need for a triumphant voyage.

What does good leadership look like in 2022? How can you put your best foot forward where you work, whether you’re managing a team or an entire company? In March, we’ll plumb the topic through Q&As from top-tier industry leaders, contributions from Inman columnists (the leaders in their field) and more. Then we’ll keep the leadership conversation going in person at Inman Disconnect in late March in Palm Springs, California.

Like any other professional skill, leadership is a competency that can be refined and developed throughout your career. Whether you are an executive at a brokerage or a manager of a team, I believe all leaders have the ability to enhance their qualities to shine, inspire and make an impact through focus and practice.

Becoming a stellar leader goes beyond being an “expert” in your field — it extends to the very foundation of how you approach life and connect with others. If you’re looking to help your team grow and thrive, being self-aware and intentional is the first step.

Being an admirable leader increases morale, sets you apart from the competition and makes the day-to-day for your team enjoyable and fulfilling. Although certain skills might come naturally and others require practice, these are the five key characteristics I see as essential to the success of every leader.


First and foremost, I’m all about transparent communication — it’s the foundation of my approach to business. When it’s lacking, a team is limited and not able to fully flourish. For me, empathy is an important ingredient in the recipe for successful communication.

Yes, you must be adept in relaying goals and feedback to your team members, but listening and connecting to them is just as important. Encouraging your team members to have an open discussion can go a long way in the creativity and effectiveness of all, allowing colleagues to feel heard, valued and empowered.

Plus, you’ll be able to solve problems much more quickly when your team feels comfortable coming to you with issues immediately. My office door (or my Zoom room) is always open, no matter a person’s role. I want to listen and provide genuine information, support and care.


Embracing a positive mindset in your business and beyond can truly have a profound effect on your company culture, innovation and ultimately your bottom line. People love being around those who are uplifting, and when you create a positive environment, you are generating a space for you and your employees to thrive.

Your team will look up to you if you can handle stressful situations and tackle obstacles while remaining positive and offering solutions. One of my favorite exercises is that of turning challenges into opportunities; when an unexpected bump in the road arises, find the silver lining.

Consider creative solutions to not only remedy the issue but to surprise and delight your customer (whether that be your staff members, agents, their clients or a vendor) by going above and beyond and achieving something extraordinary. Putting this simple yet powerful mindset into practice will inspire others to do the same—and the ripple effect will have a major impact.

Ability to delegate

Here’s a lesson that has taken me decades in leadership roles to learn: Delegation is absolutely essential to your success as a leader and for your team. Although I want to take on everything, there are just not enough hours in the day — and it denies other team members opportunities for growth.

A good leader entrusts their team to take on more tasks so they can focus on the big picture. So, stay out of the weeds when you can, and empower people around you to add value. The result? More dedicated time for you to focus on high-level strategy, better collaboration and new ideas.


Without passion, real estate leaders are only able to achieve so much. Caring about what you do, the people you work with and the outcome of your initiatives truly fuels your creativity, challenges you to learn new things and drives you to push yourself.

Being an inspirational leader will encourage others to feel more motivated and connected to the company (hello, retention!). So, let people know how you feel—communicate how much you appreciate them, share the things you are excited about and paint a picture of what the future of the company could look like.


In my experience, energy reveals everything about a person. And when it comes to real estate, a business that is so heavily about people, the way you make others feel is a particularly crucial aspect to consider when thinking about your leadership style.

It’s important to bring charisma with you into every meeting, phone call, interaction and presentation in order to energize the room. This means presenting yourself with good body language (posture!), displaying manners, inspiring confidence and being personable. Just watch and see what a difference it makes.

Being a successful, authentic and inspiring leader is a journey — one that takes intentional practice, iteration and humility. You’ll never arrive at being perfect, but you do have an incredible opportunity as a leader to make a significant impact on the company and the lives of those around you, so seize it.

Set goals, reflect and take action. If something isn’t working, change it. If your team is feeling low, raise them up. If you make a mistake, own it. In the end, your goal as a leader is to steer the ship that is your company toward its greater mission with precision and prowess.

Grab your guiding compass of core values, communicate with your teammates clearly and move forward with the mindset and skillset you need for a triumphant voyage.

Rainy Hake Austin is president of The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with her on Instagram

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