In an Inman Connect New York panel moderated by Kendall Bonner of RE/MAX Capital Realty, top leaders discussed the importance of mentoring and the power of being authentic.

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In real estate, it’s either mentor or be mentored if you want to get ahead.

That’s according to Nikki Field, head of The Field Team at Sotheby’s International Realty, who spoke on a panel moderated by Kendall Bonner of the Kendall Bonner Team with RE/MAX Capital Realty about what it means to be a woman in real estate, at Inman Connect in New York on Tuesday.

“If you’re in this industry … and you’ve been in it for more than five years and you’re not a mentor, please become one,” Field said. “The best and fastest way to raise the bar of our professional industry is to teach those that just entered the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Panel members discussed their leadership strategies and the challenges of being an effective leader under difficult circumstances.

Veronica Figueroa, who leads the Figueroa Team with eXp Realty in Orlando, Florida, said failure was an important part of her journey to becoming a competent leader. 

“My team, we failed more times than when we got it right,” she said. “I was not always the best leader.”

It took the difficulties of the pandemic over the past two years for her to challenge herself into becoming the leader she is today.

“I started doing some really deep work during the pandemic,” she said. “I struggled with mental health issues, which I know is something we don’t talk a lot about in this industry. I struggled also with a desire for achievement, which really put a strain on my business. And when I really started being honest with myself about ‘what is the type of leader I want to show up as?’ that’s when I really started having some clarity as to what leadership is.”

Ige Johnson, who leads the Ige Johnson Group with RE/MAX Generation in the Houston, Texas, area, said the biggest lesson she’s learned from her years of leadership is the importance of being genuine.

“Being true to yourself, being true to you,” she said. “This is our passion, but we have a purpose here in our industry, in our community. So when I started to show up in my authentic self and not as everyone else thought I should be, I think that’s when I really started to show up in that leadership role.”

And if leaders want to preserve the legacy they’ve worked to build, it’s important for them to think about who they want to hand the reins to when it comes time to step down, according to Field.

“My focus right now is on the succession plan,” Field said. “If you haven’t already made a plan of having someone you respect, admire, is intelligent, has the same skill sets you have, and you can bring into the business, share the business with, and eventually hand the business over, it is the most extraordinary insurance policy for you to continue having income, resources, and a sense of pride of your accomplishments after you’ve gotten off that treadmill.”

Email Ben Verde

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