I have many aspirations and many things I would like to accomplish in my lifetime. That said, one of my strongest vocations is establishing myself in my community as a successful real estate agent.
I've always had a knack for sales and I love architecture and residential construction. But my affinity for real estate probably dates back to my childhood, when my uncle Herbie used to drive me around in his big tan Buick Skylark, taking me to all his listings so I could see how he showcased his properties. My uncle Herbie used to make me guess how much he had listed each property for, if I was wrong, he would wonk me on the head with this old leather scabbard he had in the back seat, if I was right, he would give me a piece of salt-water taffy. Long story short, I've wanted to be a successful realtor my entire life.
Leadership is an important aspect of being a successful realtor. A realtor must exude confidence, impart his wisdom and expertise of the housing market to his clients, and, most importantly, he must be a leader. He must be a leader and an authority figure to his clients. While his clients ultimately make the decision on whether or not to buy/sell a home, he must help guide them through the decision making process. In short, a successful realtor is also a great leader.
All of the learning outcomes we've discussed and examined have, at the very least, a tangential relationship to what it takes to become a successful realtor. However, there are three that have a more fundamental relationship to real estate sales than the others, those are: the affect power and influence have on leadership, the centrality ethics has to leadership within organizations and the significance leadership has in initiating and managing change within an organization.
Now, of the three aforementioned learning outcomes, many of them focus on leadership within the constructs of an organization which is not necessarily how most realtors work, most realtors work as independent contractors and are, for matter of simplicity, their own bosses, so in writing this essay I will need to hew the lessons and insights I've gained on leadership from the learning outcomes to the real estate agency. In other words, there is a process of adaptation taking place to show how the lessons learned from the organizational leadership paradigms are also applicable to realtors.
Of course, realtors also work within an agency or an organization, typically a real estate brokerage, so they are part of a larger community. Yet, their role within the brokerage is not defined in a conventional way. Their co-workers aren't really co-workers; rather they are direct/indirect competition while at the same time their co-workers can function as cohorts. It's a competitive business environment where each realtor is at once on his own and part of a larger community. So, in addition to showing how leadership plays a pivotal role in real estate sales, this essay will also examine how leadership plays an integral part in an atypical (highly competitive, individual driven) business setting.
With great power comes great responsibility, as the saying goes. And realtors are in a position where they have tremendous influence and power over their clients. After all, people seek out realtors not to pay them 6% commission for doing nothing; rather they pay realtors 6% commission (which often equates to thousands of dollars) for their knowledge of the market, for their experience with home sales, for their sound advice, for their ability to negotiate an optimal transaction, for their contractual expertise, for their ability to produce a cross-market analysis, and for their trust. See, selling and/or purchasing a home is typically one of the biggest investment a person will make throughout his/her lifetime, and those that choose to work with realtors are keenly aware of what's at stake. Realtors, likewise, know that the stakes are high, and that their clients are putting a lot of trust and faith in them to perform their duties as best they can. Realtors wield great power and influence over their clients. And as leaders, realtors need to recognize this. That every piece of advice they give their clients carries with it weight and gravitas.
So how does a realtor acting as a leader respond and/or react to this power and influence he/she has over his/her clients? Our philosophers have told us that "power corrupts" and that "absolute power corrupts absolutely," so it is with great prudence and caution that a leader, in this case the realtor, uses that power and influence. In fact, and as the our textbook explains, that one of the best ways a leader can deal with his/power and influence is by showing that he is attuned to the opinions and convictions of others. Instead of taking a staunch and intractable position, a good leader listens to his co-workers, and is open to suggestions. Consider this research Carmine Gallo of Bloomberg Businessweek found in his study, "Over the past several weeks, I interviewed a half-dozen well-known business leaders for a new book on communications. One theme came up repeatedly -- great leaders are great listeners. Extraordinary men and women solicit feedback, listen to opinions, and act on that intelligence. Listening skills have always been important in the workplace, but are even more so when dealing with young employees" (2007). A good leader knows that his power and influence doesn't come from his ego, rather it comes from his ability to analyze and interpret the available information weighed against his own beliefs as well as the opinions of others in order to think critically about the best course of action. One of the ways to avoid the misuse of power and influence is to listen first and lead second.
The notion of listen first and lead second is key to becoming a successful realtor. A realtor must know what his clients are looking for, what their needs and wants are, what they can and can't afford. In order to help lead them into making the right decision, in order to ensure he uses his power and influence appropriately, he must be attuned to their desires and wishes.
Now how does a realtor's power and influence work within a real estate office that is filled with egos and cutthroat sales agents? If the realtor is well respected, like my uncle Herbie, he should use his power and influence to help the other agents. This seems counter-intuitive because those agents are his competition, but the reality is, more often than not, helping other agents will yield favors in return. Not only that, but helping others is the right thing to do.
How does one know that helping others is the "right thing" to do? Well, this brings about the second learning outcome or leadership paradigm, the notion that ethics is central to leadership. Where does one get his (business) ethics from? Many times in business certain companies have established an official rubric of ethical behavior. Other companies and organizations have a culture whereby certain values and ethics are taught and reinforced. Some companies are less explicit and leave it up to the individual worker to decide for themselves what is ethical and what is not.
Yet, what is fascinating about ethics in business is despite their origin, whether its corporate doctrine, corporate culture, personal values, etc., most people seem to know intuitively what is ethical and what is not. It can be argued then, that ethics are memetic -- learned behaviors passed down throughout our evolutionary history. However, just because we know right from wrong, doesn't mean we do the "right thing." And this is where leadership comes in. Good leaders always do the right thing, even if it means sacrificing self-interest. James Macgregor Burns (1978) said many insightful things about leadership in his book, "Leadership," among them that leadership and ethics are inseparable - unethical leadership is an oxymoron. But in addition to this more notable phrase he discusses how a great leader must transcend temptation to perform less than exemplary, "But the ultimate test of moral leadership is its capacity to transcend the claims of multiplicity of everyday wants and needs and expectations, to respond to the higher levels of moral development, and to relate leadership behavior- its roles, choices, style, commitments- to a set of reasoned, relatively explicit, conscious values (1978, p. 46).
In real estate there's a constant tension between making the sale and doing what's best for the clients, between giving way to the temptations of an expedited transaction and adhering to those higher conscious values. This doesn't mean that two are mutually exclusive, in fact, more often than not the two align -- completing the transaction is in the best interest of the client(s) -- but there are instances where forcing the sale will allow the realtor to collect a paycheck, but will leave the client with less money or put the client in a…