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I was born without an entrepreneurial bone in my body. And I think many real estate professionals can attest to the fact that most of the important lessons in this business are learned through the school of hard knocks. The upside? Some of the most valuable business practices are born out of mistakes.

I’d like to share one of my favorite lessons, one that I think can benefit any real estate professional, no matter what stage their career or tenure in the business. That is the art of leverage.

Why do you need it? How do you find it? Once you have it, how do you lead it well? We’ll answer all of these questions, but first a brief bit of context. 

One of the few equalizers in this world is time. We all have 24 hours in a day. And yet, some people achieve five or 10 times more productivity in a day than others. Why is that?

It’s because they’ve learned the secret art of leverage in their business. Leverage is exponential. One plus one no longer equals two. It can equal five. It can even equal 10 when done correctly.

Leverage is the difference between working long hours and never being able to break through and taking a team or an organization to new levels they never thought were possible. Leverage is covering for your weaknesses.

As soon as you can, and as soon as you can afford it, you must leverage yourself in your business. What does this entail? Let’s dive in.

Get comfortable being the dumbest person in the room

Leaders, hear me out. How often do you feel like you have to have the answer for every question? Or have a solution for every challenge that comes up in order to appear that we have mastery over all things? We fake it, don’t we? But we do ourselves and our clients a disservice when we do this. 

All of us, if we’re really honest, are experts in two or three aspects of the business. Everything else that’s part of the job, we’re either at a novice or beginner level of proficiency.

Novice applies to those tasks that you can do, you have the knowledge, but don’t enjoy. Consequently, it doesn’t get done as often as it should and becomes a weak spot.

Beginner covers all those things that fall under “you don’t know what you don’t know” or you only know enough to get yourself in trouble.

When starting my first business, I felt like I had to be an expert on QuickBooks. Fast forward three months, the sole purpose of the second computer monitor on my desk was to hold all the yellow sticky notes required to execute payroll for just two people. Not the best use of my time. 

These tasks that fall outside your wheelhouse of expertise certainly have value. The question is whether doing them is a valuable use of your time. We can all learn new skills, but if someone else can do it better, faster or more creatively, then we shouldn’t be spending our time there. 

Let go of myths that are holding you back

Whenever and wherever we feel stuck in our business, it’s often because of the myths we tell ourselves. The myths that I clung to for many years may sound familiar:

  • If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
  • The client hired me, so they will only talk to me.
  • I have to be on every call and email, and at every showing.

Throughout the real estate industry, I’ve observed that young and old, experienced and inexperienced, successful and unsuccessful practitioners are alike in the urge to control every aspect of their businesses, and consequently, continuously hit a ceiling of production.

They’re passing up opportunities to meet new people, plant seeds for future deals or deepen client relationships because they feel like they don’t have time for these activities and are too caught up in the minutiae of running a business. 

If you find yourself in a position where you can’t do more business and can’t do it well, it’s time to hire leverage. The myths we tell ourselves —What if they’re not good? Will this upset the client? What if the business can’t afford this? —will often hold us back at these critical inflection points.

By letting go of these myths, we can break through that production ceiling and take our business to the next level. 

Hire for your weaknesses

That said, as business leaders it’s important to be aware of our weaknesses. Your personal weaknesses are often great indicators of who to hire and what to delegate. When you hire for your weaknesses, that person or persons are probably not going to be like you and that’s okay. In fact, it is the different personalities and skill sets that will effectively leverage your business.

Lead well

Once you have leverage, how do you lead successfully? A leader must set the tone. This means being present, visible and available to demonstrate the pace, expectations and the culture for your team.

If you as a leader are on time, the expectation will be to be on time. If you follow through and do what you say you’re going to do, even when it’s hard, you foster a culture of following through, even when it’s hard.

You must also practice humility. It’s true that confidence makes a good leader, but there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

Set the goal, not the process

As a leader, you should set the big-picture vision and goals, but not the process on how to get there. That’s called micromanagement. Cast a vision, set a goal and give others the trust, the latitude and the confidence to define the process. Mistakes will be made, but with the right people, you will be astonished at how far you can take your business. 

How can you begin to put this in action today? It doesn’t matter if it’s just you or if you’re leading a team of 100. Understand where your business needs leverage and identify the myths that are holding you back from taking action.

Start with one small thing you can do this week, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly and effectively the momentum builds.

Andrew Ellett is the owner and managing broker for Engel & Volkers Jackson Hole. You can connect with him on Linkedin and Instagram.

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