Real estate leadership in 2021 and beyond

— Weichert Franchise

Heading into the remainder of 2021, it’s a good time to take stock of how far we’ve come and how we can continue adjusting to a new way of living, learning, and leading our teams to success.

While the last 16 months have been unprecedented, the rapid pace of change that’s also brewing is a new normal that’s here to stay. Technology fuels the workday, hybrid working styles have been fully embraced, transparency is valued more than ever. This brings challenges and opportunities for brokers who must blend tried-and-true team leadership strategies with even deeper levels of authenticity, flexibility, and openness.

Let’s see what the experts have to say about leadership in 2021 and beyond and apply it to real estate team success.

A new kind of leader

Successful leadership across all industries requires knowledge, competence, and a head for business, but today’s employees (in our case, agents) are looking for more.

Stanford University recently gathered leaders from Google, Walmart, Cleveland Clinic, Salesforce, and Reykjavik University and asked about their approach to leadership going forward.

What emerged were people-centered strategies that acknowledge the vulnerabilities we’ve all experienced in recent months. The concept, coined Sapient Leadership, highlights four pillars that connect values to workplace objectives. In summary, they state that:

  1. Humility, authenticity, and openness instill trust and psychological safety.
  2. Trust and psychological safety empower individuals and teams.
  3. Continuous learning enables effective navigation of change.
  4. Shared purpose enhances focus, cohesion, and resilience.

Some of these concepts are familiar. Trust, after all, has always been essential to a high-functioning workplace. Other concepts, such as humility, may not come as naturally to those in leadership. However, as a record four million Americans quit their jobs in April, it behooves everyone in leadership to take notice.

The takeaway seems clear: People crave meaningful work and want to feel valued. They want to work for leaders who are competent and also caring. They want to be challenged to grow and achieve.

Does this describe your workplace? Let’s explore five strategies to ensure that your brokerage stays on track.

Share your big vision

It’s human nature to be inspired by lofty goals. Conveying a clear vision for your brokerage can help build a shared purpose among everyone on your team.

Professor Bill Damon of Stanford University, one of the world’s leading purpose researchers, defines purpose as a stable intention to accomplish something that is both personally meaningful and serves the world at large.

So feel free to dream big and share your vision. Here’s what Brenda Elliott, owner of Weichert, Realtors® – The Space Place tells her agents: “We give you the knowledge to serve your clients, the cutting-edge tools to drive your business, the systems to be efficient, and the support to be successful. All you need to bring is the desire to reach your goals. At Weichert, our goal is to positively impact lives through real estate and we’ve done that thousands of times – one client and one agent at a time!”

A vision offers something to work toward beyond mere sales targets, which carries deeper meaning and tends to have greater influence.

Be of service

Verl Workman, founder of Workman Success Systems, has an interesting take on real estate leadership. Instead of thinking of yourself in a position of power, he says, think of yourself in a position of service.

At Weichert, our corporate leadership team is designed to serve affiliates who in turn serve agents.

For brokers who’ve earned their stripes conquering the world of real estate, this shift can be challenging at first. Yet every growing brokerage must continually develop its agents. It’s quite literally the number one responsibility of every Weichert affiliate. That’s why we invest heavily in agent recruitment, retention, and training. With leading technology, marketing tools, and sales training, agents know they’re fully supported.

Create an inspiring environment

While hybrid working arrangements are still evolving, creating a home base for meetings, huddles, brainstorms, and pep talks goes a long way toward building team cohesion.

Much like our homes, an office space is a reflection of our priorities, values, and vision. As a leader, it’s your job to create an inviting environment where agents and clients feel inspired. Not everyone has a knack for design, so let’s break it down into three key areas: professionalism, style, and productivity.

  • A professional office exudes thoughtfulness. It starts with a well-appointed reception area with free Wi-Fi beverages, coat racks, coffee-table books, and appropriate music. Your waiting room might also have print materials related to your client’s interests such as current listings or magazines based on your niche real estate market.
  • Your style should reflect the people you serve. A brokerage that serves primarily first-time home buyers in a busy urban setting should look different than one serving retirees in a quiet beach town. Whatever your style, comfort is key. Offer rooms that help keep your client’s personal finances private. Consider natural light and healthy plants to help both staff and visitors feel at ease.
  • Finally, your office should foster productivity with technology facilitating almost every aspect of business operations. Along with high-speed wireless networks and office automation systems, your hub can include whiteboard walls for easy collaboration, AV equipment, and any technology that helps you get the job done. Showcase marketing and sales systems you’ve invested in to not only to convey your value proposition to agents, but to remind them what’s available to make them as productive as possible.

Set crystal clear goals

All good leaders set clear goals for their teams. Without them, the mission becomes hazy.
A nice rule of thumb is to take a “SMART” approach and make sure each goal ticks the following boxes:

S – Specific: the clearer the goal, the easier it is to achieve it
M – Measurable: put a number to your goals and measure progress
A – Attainable: ensure you have the tools, talent, processes, and materials needed
R – Realistic: goals should be ambitious and challenging, yet achievable
T – Timely: set a timeframe for goals so everyone can set an appropriate pace

Remember, when goals are impossible, frustration creeps in. Equally, big goals should be broken into bite-sized chunks so they’re easier to achieve. From there, helping agents tie income-producing activities to tangible goals will help them gain a complete picture of how brokerages stay profitable and the important role they play within it.

Celebrate every success!

Don’t wait until your office is number one in your region. Celebrate the many individual and team achievements that happen weekly, monthly, and yearly.

According to author and certified executive coach Brenda Bence, our fast-paced, 24/7 world makes it tempting to jump to the next task at hand instead of stopping to reflect on what’s been achieved.
Leapsome, which helps CEOs build better workplaces, offers a great guide for celebrating success in the office. Some of its surprising highlights include:

  • 79 percent of employees who quit their jobs blame lack of appreciation.
  • 65 percent of North Americans report that they weren’t recognized even once last year.
  • 78 percent say they would work harder if they were given more recognition.

Organizational anthropologist Judith Glaser says that celebrating success stimulates feelings of “inclusion, innovation, appreciation, and collaboration” in the brain, which pave the way for creative thinking, calmer work environments, increased focus, and resilience to stress – even during periods of high pressure.

Celebrating success not only fosters a positive culture, it ultimately affects the bottom line.
The employee engagement experts at Achievers cite research finding that “recognition programs yield 50 percent higher sales, 27 percent higher profits, and 21 percent better retention.”

Gallup, which found that fewer than a third of employees received recognition for doing good work within the last seven days say that “recognition might be one of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers.”

The fix? Make recognition a monthly priority at minimum. According to an Achievers survey, 75 percent of employees “who were recognized by their manager once a month – which is a good cadence to check in on progress to long-term goals – reported being satisfied with their job.”

Weichert wishes our affiliates and everyone in real estate leadership continued success in 2021 and beyond. Your dedication to clients and our industry is always something to celebrate.

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