Elite AgentLEADERSHIPMindset and Personal Development

Ellen Bathgate: Leadership is not a ‘dirty word’

I’ve always felt uncomfortable with being called a leader.

Yes, even when I’ve been in ‘leadership’ positions in my career.

Turns out, I’m not the only one.

Many professionals in the property management space also grapple with the label of ‘leader’.

It seems to cause a feeling of discomfort with the title.

Maybe it’s because you’re humble creatures, avoiding the spotlight.

Maybe it’s because you feel a sense of imposter syndrome, in spite of your experience and ability.

So, in spite of being in leadership positions for most of my career I’ve never wanted to be called a leader.

A manager, sure, but not a leader.

Recently I heard a Simon Sinek quote and it went something like this, “We call them leaders because they go first.”

This completely changed my understanding of leadership.

It made me realise that I am a leader, and I’m becoming okay with that.

The courage to go first

I’ve discovered that the essence of leadership isn’t about hierarchy and authority.

It’s not about a job title or a position in your team.

It’s about having the courage to take initiative and to go first.

This doesn’t mean you have to go alone, or carry the burden of single-handedly executing every single task.

Quite the opposite.

It emphasises the willingness to take the next step, to be the catalyst for change, even when a situation is uncertain or challenging.

That’s what leadership is about: courage.

For years, the idea of being a ‘leader’ felt alien to me.

It felt like a dirty word.

Something that made me feel icky and uncomfortable.

It wasn’t until I encountered Sinek’s perspective that I recognised the alignment between his definition and my own actions.

Leadership wasn’t about titles or being at the forefront of every decision.

It was about being the first to face challenges, to embrace vulnerability, and to demonstrate possibilities to the people I lead.

I’m realising that this idea of a leader having to excel in every aspect of the business is total rubbish.

My own journey has taught me that effective leadership is not about being the best at everything but about creating an environment where everyone’s strengths are recognised and utilised.

As a leader, my role is to initiate progress and inspire my team to contribute their best, ultimately creating a collective force more powerful than any individual effort.

Remember the old proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together“.

Here’s something I didn’t expect to discover about leadership: true leadership involves stepping back to allow others to step forward.

When I take the first step, I give permission to my team (or colleagues or clients) to take ownership of their responsibilities and excel in their areas of expertise.

With this, you create a culture of trust, where each person feels they can contribute to shared goals.

I’m not the only one

The more conversations I have with property managers and leaders in the property space, the more I realise that this feeling about leadership is common.

So many people share the initial hesitancy to embrace the ‘leader’ title, often due to imposter syndrome.

The property management industry can make even the most seasoned professionals question their leadership capabilities.

So, what do you do about Imposter Syndrome?

Maybe if you recognise that leadership is about going first, you can swap this doubt for confidence (or at least courage, if you’re not quite confident yet).

Maybe you can shift the focus from what you believe you lack to what you can actively do to influence, support and guide those around you.

Discovering other leaders

There seems to be a ripple effect of ‘going first’ too.

When you adopt this approach to leadership, you can set an example.

This act of courage inspires others to follow suit.

Leadership, therefore, becomes a shared journey, not a lonely one (Yay for having friends along the way!)

Encouraging the mindset of ‘going first’ within your team can help you discover potential leaders within your existing team, who might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

When you create an environment where taking initiative is rewarded and celebrated, you can nurture a new generation of leaders, ready and equipped to navigate the property management industry.

And heaven knows we need that right now.

In property management, you are all leaders, guiding your teams, serving your clients, and shaping the future of your industry.

What if you just chose to be courageous, to ‘go first’, to lead by example, and to inspire those around you to discover their own leadership potential?

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Ellen Bathgate

Ellen Bathgate is the founder of Rent Roll Starter, and helps rent roll owners to start and grow their own rent rolls using affordable growth strategies. For more information visit rentrollstarter.com.au