A leadership team is an extension and expression of your leadership style. When setting the tone in cultivating leadership, it is important to ask yourself: What legacy do I want to create?
For me, fostering a leadership team that is collaborative and communicative is paramount to the success of an organization. While leaders across all departments — sales, franchise, operations, marketing and so forth — have completely different tasks and objectives, we are all pulling together to achieve the same greater goals.
With these goals in mind, I create the framework for managing and building a leadership team. I look for people who have passion for what they do each day and want to be a part of what we are building for the future.
I have had the pleasure of managing several high-performing teams throughout my career and find the following practices to be vital in cultivating an effective and successful leadership team within a brokerage.
1. Share a clear vision
All members of the brokerage must know the greater goals for the company — and that starts with the leadership team. Having a clear communications plan and strategy for ensuring the team is apprised of these directives at all times is paramount to success.
For example, we hold a series of weekly and biweekly meetings with our leadership teams to make sure we are all in the know at all times.
2. Lead by example
To cultivate new leaders, you should lead by example. Your actions set the standard for others and ensure that what you built will live on past your tenure.
3. Incentivize behavior
Profit-sharing or bonuses on top of standard salaries that drive specific behavior can inspire people to operate like owners and true leaders.
For example, a bonus override on the profitability of a single office can drive a manager to focus on cost savings and agent productivity, but a portion of overall company performance can drive collaboration and referrals between regions.
4. Make expectations clear
Provide clear expectations and ensure that they are being met during regular check-ins, reviews and project meetings. I like to keep a running agenda with team members from our meetings so we can look back on tasks and goals and cross them off the list as they are met.
5. Foster collaboration to foster leadership
Surround yourself with smart people, recognize each of their strengths, and allow them to participate as much as possible in decision-making. When they are empowered to make decisions that impact the brokerage, they perceive themselves as leaders. Perception becomes reality.
6. Cultivate talent
Never take talent for granted. Understand the interests, strengths and skills of your team and then leverage these to accomplish your goals.
If a team member wants to handle certain types of projects, take more of a leadership role or have more professional growth, it’s important to foster these goals and sharpen their skillset. This will leave them feeling fulfilled and the team achieving the very best result.
7. Give credit and celebrate success
Never take credit for anything, if possible. Always attribute successes to others who have added value as this will build loyalty and inspire hard work.
In the process, praise and appreciate your team for their accomplishments, and they will aspire to be more and rise into leadership.
8. Build trust
Relationships are all about trust so you need to be willing to give your team more responsibility. Be willing to take a step back and relinquish control, and therefore allow others to step into a leadership role.
For managers who have a more hands on approach and find that taking a step back is easier said than done, I suggest thinking back to when you were in a role when you were given more responsibility and the opportunity to showcase your talent. It was a time when you were able to rise up to the occasion and the whole team was able to flourish.
Great leaders inspire. Cultivate a team of diverse perspectives, and establish a culture where they can disagree with you without fear. Even encourage people to fail but fail quickly and learn from their mistakes.
10. Provide a clear path
Empower each team member with a clear understanding of their career path with detailed goals, then let them take responsibility for achieving milestones along the roadmap.
When setting goals, be specific about what it required, set a timeframe, outline how they will be measured, and make sure they are attainable.
11. Go the extra inch
Show that you believe in them by investing in their lifelong learning path by creating an environment where learning is encouraged and opportunities to do so are provided. For example, invite speakers to office meetings or share relevant articles to your team. Everyone can learn, grow and improve — and sometimes it is about going the extra inch, not mile.
Without encouragement to stretch, people will stay in their comfort zone. Create discomfort, challenge them and encourage them to learn and grow regularly by building a habit of change.
12. Show respect
People will perform better and be more loyal when they feel respected. If you want to empower your people to lead, you must respect them.
This respect can come in the form of a simple acknowledgement of praise in person, via email or text etc., or can be part of a formal award program for the company. Conversely, you must operate as a leader that they respect.
Listen more than you talk, and you will allow your team to fill the silence with valuable ideas.
14. Take a risk
My final point, and perhaps one that has the power to generate the greatest reward for both yourself and the individual, is to take a risk. Not all leaders look alike or follow the same path.
Trust your gut when you see raw talent, and invest in the diamond in the rough if you see potential. Some of your greatest leaders may come from the most unlikely sources.