Courageous Conversations: How Harriet Saunders changed perspective, created a thriving career, and encouraged others to operate ‘above the line’

In real estate, like any industry, mistakes happen and challenges arise, but whether you choose to learn from them or disregard them depends on your perspective. In this Courageous Conversation, Laing+Simmons Head of Growth and Development Harriet Saunders shares what it takes to see failure as opportunity, including what she learned in her time with Purplebricks.

There’s more than one way to look at any situation. Change can be seen as opportunity, or it can evoke fear.

Failure might be viewed as the chance to learn and grow, or it can be something that defines you and holds you back.

How you see any scenario depends on your perspective, says Laing+Simmons Head of Growth and Development Harriet Saunders and whether you choose to embrace it or excuse it depends on whether you operate ‘above the line’ or below it.

Harriet explains ‘above the line’ people own their mistakes and see them as a chance to develop and improve, while those who find refuge below the line are fueled by excuses and the ‘buts’ that inhibit the chance to grow.

In a highly successful real estate career both here and in England, Harriet’s had her share of professional and personal moments where perspective has mattered, including her experience at Purplebricks.

In her 20s, she and her young family left the UK with just three suitcases and a dream of adventure.

Now a single mum with a thriving career, she looks at the ways reframing the perspective has helped shape her success, along with the lessons it has helped her learn.

She notes many of those key lessons came from her time working at disruptor Purplebricks when they made a foray into the Australian market.

Harriet offers an insight into why she believes the model didn’t work here at that time, and how her ability to change perspective allowed her to view the experience as a positive one that shaped her belief sometimes you learn more when you fail than when you succeed.

In this Courageous Conversation with Leanne Pilkington, Harriet looks at what it takes to be someone who embraces ‘above the line’ behaviour where each challenge presents opportunity.

“An above the line mindset is somebody that takes ownership, accountability, and responsibility, which sounds really trite, but it’s actually quite important. It’s about looking at a scenario and saying, I understand that this may or may not be my ‘fault’, but what am I learning from this? What can we do better from this? And it comes down to that – being able to evolve.” – Harriet Saunders.

Harriet and Leanne discuss:

  • What it is to be above the line or beneath it, and how this helps you grow in a real estate career.
  • Why perspective of any situation is key and how it helps you appreciate another person’s world view and their approach to the task at hand.
  • How Harriet became someone who was happy to have tough conversations and the benefits this transparency offers.
  • Why intention is the thing that matters most and how you can relay this in the conversations that count.
  • Harriet’s story of coming to Australia, including how she manages the work/life balance as a single mum with two children.
  • Why success in leadership and any role involves taking responsibility, and how this can help open a much more positive conversation.
  • Why where you are now is where you’ve chosen to be and how realising that liberates you to take ownership and accountability.
  • What Harriet learned from working with real estate disruptor Purple Bricks and why it’s something she would definitely do again.
  • Why feedback is always about offering a different perspective and how you can take it on, without feeling under threat.

And much, much more…

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Leanne Pilkington

Leanne Pilkington is Chief Executive Officer and Director of Laing+Simmons.


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