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Great leadership goes far beyond winning awards and hitting sales goals. From being transparent about your challenges to creating an environment of open communication, here are five ways to be a better leader for your agents.
Be a good listener
Listening is a powerful tool. Not only does it broaden your perspective, but it demonstrates that you have respect and regard for your team and colleagues, which helps build trust and rapport.
In an environment where listening is valued and voices are honored, your talented team will feel more comfortable bringing their ideas to you — and collaboration breeds success for everyone. I have also found that when you are a good listener, people will tend to listen more carefully to you, as well.
Lead by example
This is a tenet I am passionate about. In its most simple definition, leading by example means being a person of your word and modeling the behavior you want to see in your team members. You cannot say one thing and behave another way; that kind of behavior from a leader ruins your credibility and puts team members’ trust and respect in you in question.
For example, I often share the story of how I got started in real estate — how I came to the U.S. with $120 in my pocket and had to hustle. I bused tables while I earned my real estate license, then started hitting the pavement, knocking on doors every weekend and introducing myself to potential clients.
I sat at open houses — at listings that weren’t even mine — in an effort to generate my own database of clients. It took me seven or eight years until I started achieving success. My experience was not easy, and I often had to pick myself up and push to get through the next day.
As a leader, I reflect back on those times frequently, especially when I speak to my team members about perseverance and resilience. Using my own experience, I can encourage and guide authentically and empathetically.
Make time to connect
When you are in a leadership position, you often take on more responsibility, which means your schedule fills up — making it more challenging to find time for meaningful one-on-one conversations with new agents who could benefit from direct mentorship.
I remember how overwhelming it felt to be a new agent, and having a go-to expert source when issues arise helps immensely when it comes to navigating the buying and selling process.
Ideally, you will be able to find windows of time to connect, even if it’s brief. I make calls while I’m en route to a listing or meeting and share and receive voice memos throughout the day as I’m available. But if you’re feeling pressed for time and still want to provide some in-person support, make an introduction to a trusted, fellow professional who you feel could be helpful — and more readily available!
Alternatively, you can encourage new agents to find a coach who can walk them through certain sticking points — tap your contacts and make recommendations and introductions for this as well.
Never stop learning and sharing
This connects to “leading by example”— it’s important to model behaviors you want to instill in your colleagues and team members. Demonstrate your lifelong quest for knowledge, be sure to share great articles, book recommendations, podcasts and more at sales meetings or via email so newer agents can have got-to resources when they are ready to feel inspired, learn more or upskill.
For some quick ideas, see my picks for 5 Sales Podcasts Every Agent Should Listen To.
Share what inspires and uplifts you
Life presents us with many challenges, and I truly feel that a good leader must be transparent about facing bumps in the road and share tools that help others shift gears and move past challenges.
Equally important is sharing what inspires you; what ignites your mind and soul. These can be simple things — a TedTalk, a TV show, a meditation practice, a song, a particular part of the beach or a certain hike. You never know if something that has resonated with you will speak to someone else who is looking for guidance.
As a huge mental health advocate, I also believe having strong mental fitness is essential. As a person in a leadership position with an elevated profile and platform, I readily embrace the opportunity to share what has worked for me. You can read about my five favorite mental health apps here.
Reframe and repeat: Choose to see challenges as opportunities
While I am not in favor of “toxic positivity” — a tactic that glosses over and doesn’t fully acknowledge a tough situation — I do feel leaders can cultivate in their teams an approach to setbacks that allows opportunities to grow, stretch and learn. It’s about acknowledging challenges, but not being leveled by them. Work to find the lesson in a setback.
I firmly believe that you can only see the light in the darkest moment. If everything is bright and you have all these good things happening, you might not make the right decisions. When it’s dark, that’s the only time where you can actually differentiate where the light is, and those are very life-changing moments.
Santiago Arana is a managing partner at The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with him on Instagram.