What decisions and paths should the real estate industry be prioritizing? And how can you, whether managing a team or an entire company, bring those best lessons to bear where you work? In February, in advance of building an industry blueprint at Inman Disconnect, we’ll plumb the topic of leadership with Q&As with top industry leaders, contributions from esteemed Inman columnists and more.

For some people, it seems that leadership comes naturally. These “born leaders” effortlessly take control of every room they’re in and inspire trust in others, even at an early age. For others, leadership is a process of years of development and growth, cultivating the skills that they need as they go along.

There are a variety of leadership styles, from low-key to borderline overbearing. Some seem to wear the mantle of leadership effortlessly while others may be uncomfortable taking charge. Developing a style that feels authentic can be an ongoing process of trial and error.


That’s why we asked: What’s the hardest part about being a leader? Is it making decisions in a timely manner, especially when the decisions you make affect others? Is it taking charge, even when some of the people you’re in charge of used to be your coworkers? Is it developing a leadership style that feels like you? Here are your answers.

  • Making decisions 
  • The hardest part of being a leader is when others do not listen. 
  • For me, it’s realizing I am in charge and I am responsible for everything my agents do. With 35 years in this business, I’m still reluctant to share the wealth of information I’ve collected over the years. I grew up in the 50s and 60s. I had two brothers and two sisters. My grandfather was a local judge. I still remember telling my parents I wanted to become a lawyer and eventually a judge, but their reaction was that type of career was for my brothers. I was supposed to get married, raise a family and live happily ever after. Sad, but true. That remark from my parents stuck in my subconscious mind for years. I did marry after college but a major auto accident caused that six-year marriage to end. Next, I married a brilliant man who had just quit working for a large law firm on Wall Street in NYC and decided to move to Napa Valley so he could raise a family in a beautiful environment. This marriage lasted over 20 years but I learned quickly my brilliant husband was also an alcoholic and ended up hardly working at all. I had no choice but to get a job with a good future so I could support our family. I was a teacher but teachers are overworked and underpaid. Not sure how I landed in real estate, but I ended up founding three local real estate firms and went from small to larger to huge. Managing 15 agents in one small office turned out to be more than I wanted to handle so I decided to limit my agents to just a few and turn my company into the most successful independently owned and operated boutique real estate firm in Napa Valley, selling primarily large vineyard estates and luxury homes. I’ve always told my agents they still need the “bread and butter” sales so don’t stop working with lower-end buyers and sellers because they’ll keep your bills paid. It’s been a long road for me with many hard knocks & painful lessons. I learned long ago I wasn’t really equipped to be in charge. I was totally ignorant when it came to modern technology. Computers and cell phones were just being developed and starting to be the new way back in 1987 when I got into real estate. We only had a large MLS book to carry around when we showed property. Modern technology exploded shortly after I got into real estate and I struggled to keep up. Today, social media, platforms, CRMs, blogs, tweets, Facebook, LinkedIn and so many other systems are out there for us to use; it’s slightly overwhelming trying to keep up. My struggle today is trying to train new agents because they talk to so many folks online and they want to know the best way to properly launch their careers. They want to work in a small, non-corporate real estate firm but they know the much larger firms offer training programs. I’m trying to guide my agents and share the things I have learned in the past 35 years but also give them the best possible technology to help them generate more business and work with programs that tie everything together. There are so many CRMs out there. There are so many webinars and offerings, it’s just hard for me to know what’s worth investing more money in and what we can use that is either offered through CAR. or ZipForm or NAR or other resources for free. This is my current frustration. 
  • Doing what you believe to be “the right thing” no matter the opposition. 
  • Letting go of people I like who are not pulling their weight. 
  • Many take positions of leadership for the perceived glory in the titles, the role and financial gains. They don’t realize, but do quickly once in a leadership role, that the “hardest part” is being able to stay true to you. It’s not about pleasing everyone, having favorites, being “liked” — it’s about doing the right things, making the right decisions, supporting everyone equally and staying true to who you are and what your role demands of you to be looked upon as trustworthy in developing solid relationships with those who look to you as their “leader.” I’m always asked how it’s possible to be a managing broker to over 600+ agents at Keller Williams NYC; the “hardest part” is easiest for me. I have, in all my years of leadership, stayed true to my own values, ethics and style of complete transparency. At the end of the day, not everyone will like you. That’s just life. But having everyone trust and respect you in business life is being a leader. 
  • The hardest part of being a leader is doing the right thing regardless of the personal or professional negative impact it can have on your career. Good leaders figure out how to deal with adverse consequences. Great leaders don’t have to figure it out because they are hard-wired to do the right thing all the time. It’s in their DNA to make the right decisions and if in a leadership position within any organization, to influence and change the culture when there is tremendous inertia not to change. But please note: There are many times a price to pay for that kind of exceptional leadership which is why that kind of game-changing person only comes around once in a great while. 

Now it’s your turn. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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