What real estate leaders can learn from sporting legends: Pancho Mehrotra

The New Zealand All Blacks are one of the most successful sporting teams the world has ever seen. Their winning culture is based on 'doing more' and 'inspirational leadership', yet no one person is 'bigger than the jersey'. Pancho Mehrotra applies some important lessons from the All Blacks to the world of real estate.

Pancho Mehrotra believes the New Zealand All Blacks are one of the most successful sporting teams the world has ever seen. Their winning culture is based on ‘doing more’ and ‘inspirational leadership’, yet no one person is ‘bigger than the jersey’. Here’s how some of those lessons can also be applied to the world of real estate.

What makes the All Blacks so successful, regardless of changing players, captains and coaches? As with most organisations, there are many parts that contribute to their success, but an important factor is leadership development.

It’s easy to draw parallels and implement this culture of winning and successful leadership into the real estate industry and the corporate world in general.

So let’s talk about the key areas; what it takes to develop inspirational leaders with people that will follow you and willingly go the extra mile.

To examine the leadership style you must examine the type of culture that exists in an agency, which will indicate whether a full change or just an adjustment is required.

One set of typologies based on corporate character and culture was developed by Roger Harrison (1972):

  • Power-oriented organisations dominated by charismatic or autocratic founders
  • Achievement-oriented organisations dominated by task results
  • Role-oriented public bureaucracies
  • Support-oriented non-profit or religious organisations.

Most real estate agencies are either power-oriented or achievement-oriented. How they perform can vary based on the leader and leadership style.

Leaders must embrace change

A significant development within the All Blacks is a concept called continual learning, accepting that one does not know it all and embracing a learning culture.

An important point to note is if the leadership does not develop and learn, they invariably cease to be of significance to their people. Some warning signs and consequences are disloyal staff, a loss in market share and an unhealthy working culture. Look at the graveyard of companies led by leaders who did not embrace change, such as Kodak, Sony Ericsson and Nokia.

The All Blacks change things up every six months. Not only does it keep a fresh outlook, but it also prevents people within taking things for granted. This ensures that there is no complacency.

With the current housing market boom, selling real estate has been relatively easy and has seen salespeople and leaders could become complacent.

Getting comfortable is your enemy. A leader must be willing to constantly improve and add new dimensions to what they do.

Do more

If you think about this rationally, there is no way the All Blacks would keep on winning if they had not evolved over the last 100 years. Roger Federer would not be winning Grand Slams at the age of 40 if he did not evolve. They are certainly leaders in their field, but also role models for many.

Former All Black Brad Thorn’s mantra ‘champions do extra’ helped him become one of the single most successful players in rugby history. This also applies to agents; an agent who is dominant in a market can easily have their market share eroded by another agent who is willing to do more.

The real estate industry is facing challenging times ahead – not only from the continual lockdowns, but also other factors, such as technology, which are disruptive factors.

I am often asked, especially by principals of businesses, how they can attract the right people, with the right attitudes and capabilities. My response is, ‘Why would someone want to work for this agency?’

Often the answer is not that inspiring. Usually they respond that they have the best systems, the best marketing, the best brands, the best agents and it goes on. The question is not really answered in concrete terms.

A successful leader must put aside their ego and be honest, aware of their failings and the areas where they and their agency need to improve. They need to embrace collective leadership, with input from the group, rather than an autocratic management style. This is an important part of learning – to respect the opinions of individuals.

Measuring quality

A leader must align with their team, recognise the need for change and, once again, believe that the external environment can be managed. Note that I have written ‘managed’ not ‘controlled’.

Believing you can control the environment is like believing you can control the weather or economic policy. A leader must believe that the environment can be managed, otherwise they will be managed by the environment.

Often people focus intently on performance numbers but not on continuous improvement to the same level. Why? Because it is easier to manage by numbers; it is quantifiable. The quality component is subjective but, in essence, this is creativity and development, where the game can be changed.

A leader must be able to make decisions under pressure and not react immaturely.

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Pancho Mehrotra

Pancho Mehrota is the CEO of Frontier Performance and a recognised leading expert in the area of communication, influence and the psychology of selling.