Nothing changes inside of our comfort zone.
Sometimes people aspire to a leadership role because they believe it will be comfortable. I’ve been guilty of this. I had an image of what it would be like to grow a real estate team, and it involved me having all sorts of free time, plenty of money rolling in, while a bunch of other highly-trained people did all the work to run the business.
The truth is, it doesn’t work that way.
Can you build something huge and successful?
Can you find and surround yourself with amazing people who will execute much of it for you?
Will you be able to do this without becoming incredibly uncomfortable and facing a multitude of challenges and problems?
Building trust requires us to lead by example
In 2019 I accepted a new role as a productivity coach in my market center. And as I look back over the last five years in this office, going from single agent to team owner, and now to this coaching and training role, I see that every period of growth has been marked by intense discomfort.
Actually, if I’m honest, the entire path has been uncomfortable. And the reason for this is that every time I reached a point where I felt like I figured a thing out, some new challenge would arise. And if the new challenge wasn’t immediately obvious, that was because it was a plateau. Which itself is a challenge when your principle value is growth, as is the case for me.
So here we are, with this uncomfortable truth:
In order to grow, and in order to lead, we must become okay with discomfort.
In productivity coaching, we tell agents to prospect. We tell them to ask their friends, family, and strangers, for business. A small number of people are totally okay with this. The vast remainder feel challenged by it at first. As a coach, part of my job is to help our new agents figure out how to do this, and to get comfortable with the discomfort in doing so.
How would they possibly trust in me that it will be okay if I am not showing them that I too am taking risks?
Leading by example requires accountability
Accountability is a buzzword in business, and real estate is no different. At Keller Williams, accountability is one of the Six Personal Perspectives, which Gary Keller has been teaching for years. (Explanations of all the perspectives can be found here: one, two, three, four, five, and six.)
We hold ourselves and each other accountable through the use of various tracking tools. One of them, the Career Growth Initiative, breaks down our measurable elements into four monthly items which we call conversations. They are: listing appointments, listings taken, closings and profit.
We ask our agents to use a calculator tool, which allows them to enter inputs such as how much they’d like to earn in one year, what they expect their average home sale price to be, and the tool helps them calculate what they need every month in terms of those four elements in order to hit the monthly income goal.
Pretty sweet, right?
For many agents, predictability is utterly lacking in their business. As soon as they close one sale, they start scrambling to figure out where their next one is going to come from.
The four conversations help us to understand what needs to happen every single month, in order to be on track for an annual goal.
And so I am reminded daily that in order for this to work, I too must be accountable. I too must know my numbers, as well as the activities that will bring achievement. And I must share that information with the agents around me so that I can also be accountable to them.
The five levels of leadership
The first is position. This means you get a job and you have the title of a leader. You are a leader in name only.
The second is permission. This is when people follow you because you have demonstrated that you care about them. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they like you… they can know that you care about them and their future without necessarily wanting to be around you all the time.
The third level is production. This is where the rubber meets the road. Level three leaders get things done, both on their own and through others. Level three leaders bring about results. At this level, leaders are working hard, being uncomfortable, and showing their team how they can do the same.
The fourth level is people development. This is where leaders are focused on developing other leaders. Many leaders never make it this far.
The fifth and highest level is the pinnacle. Very few leaders ever make it to this level. This is where you are focused on creating level four leaders all around you. I can’t speak much to this right now, because I am WAY far away from this right now, honestly. (If I evaluate myself right now, I put myself in the trenches of level two. I’m working on showing people that I care, while also laying the groundwork for the production of results in level three.)
Leading by example means how we THINK matters
The most important lesson that I’ve learned so far in my journey with Keller Williams is that how we think matters. There’s a saying, what you focus on expands. If we wallow in our day-to-day problems, they will continue to plague us. If we think about our vision, goals and purpose, the path towards achieving them will begin to reveal itself.
Note that I am not suggesting we ignore problems.
Its just that how we think about problems and challenges matters.
When something is uncomfortable, or when you do it wrong, make a mistake, or life doesn’t go your way, what thoughts do you choose in response?
Do you say OMG this sucks?
(You’re not alone if the answer is yes. This is often my first thought when something goes wrong.)
There is almost always (at least for me) an initial negative response to a problem. And yet just beyond that initial response lies a fork in the road. We can wallow in it, or we can use the challenge to grow.
Wallowing is very easy to spot. It’s when something is upsetting us and we tell EVERYBODY IN SIGHT about it. (I’m tired today; I broke a nail, let me show you how bloody it is; someone cut me off in traffic this morning; I had a deal fall through because so-and-so was acting like a jerk…)
And yet we can choose a second thought, which might be: Awesome, what am I learning from this? What can I do differently? What is the gift in this problem that I can take and use to grow beyond it?
In a training called Coaching Skills Camp, they teach us that our job is to teach people how to think so they can do what they need to do, when they need to do it, in order to get what they want, when they want it.
We teach thinking which leads to action which leads to results.
And in order to lead, we must continually face our own thinking, which leads to our own actions, which of course will ultimately lead to results.