How to Build a Super-Team: Matt Lahood

A SUCCESSFUL AGENCY depends on strong leadership and support, but this doesn’t always come naturally to real estate principals. New CEO of The Agency, Matt Lahood, who has spent over two decades transforming careers, building super-teams and mentoring more than 200 agents, shares some of his leadership secrets.

THE BIGGEST mistake I see leaders make is being complacent, thinking the business is going to run itself. The leader disappearing and not being visible is a big problem.

Your team needs to know you are in the trenches with them – how can you make a clear judgement or decision about a situation if you are not in the field? My view is that you can never become too big for your role. For example, I attend listing presentations, open homes and auctions and I hold one-on-ones with the agents.

The ability to provide strong leadership does not boil down to some enigmatic secret or undefinable charm. It is about providing structure and, frankly, giving a damn about others, your team. This is how I break down the key leadership components.

Leaders empower their team by looking at both their strengths and their weaknesses. First of all you have to play to your team members’ strengths and push them to the maximum. Next, you identify weaknesses and work to develop them into strengths.

I’ve developed a lot of people over the years and some of the most successful people are those who’ve said to me, ‘I don’t think I can do this job’. I’ve pushed them and repeated to them my favourite line – I’ve got your back. I won’t ask anyone to do anything I haven’t done. I won’t say ‘run through that brick wall’ if I haven’t done it already. They can see my scars.

I won’t say ‘run through that brick wall’ if I haven’t done it already. They can see my scars.

I focus on giving my team confidence that they can do the job. Whatever we do in life, there are times we get knocked down. Ninety per cent of what we do is having confidence, getting up, turning up and being there for people.

To make empowerment happen you must be available to your team, and that means being highly organised.

Every Monday I meet with my management team. It’s more to assist them with what they are tackling; they’ll often ask me to critique what they are doing to help them grow. Great leadership is all about growing people. There are only two states you can be in: growing or dying.

I’m only interested in people who really want to grow their careers. It doesn’t matter if you are at the front desk or working in our marketing team, I get excited about helping people grow.

Great leaders must possess a laser focus around what needs to be done. They need to have a vision and then set that vision into a plan. The execution of that plan involves clearly outlining everyone’s roles and responsibilities. You put the best people in those roles and they will follow the plan.

There is nothing worse in real estate than micro-management. I delegate and completely trust my team to deliver on the plan.

Building a super-team is reliant on putting the right people in place and understanding whether an agent has leadership capabilities. Not every agent makes a good leader; some agents may prefer to run a small operation rather than scale-up their business. You need to empower agents to work in a way that best suits them and identify this early on.

Most owners of property today love to see an agent who has a proper

structure behind them. In my view, to build super-teams it’s good to have a senior agent, an agent who is 2IC, a marketing and administration person and then potentially two other agents who can develop under the senior agent.

An example of a super-team I have worked closely with is Ben Collier’s team. Ben started off doing around 20 sales a year and earning a GCI of half a million. Now, over a four-year period, Ben and his team are selling 60 properties annually and earning a GCI of $5 million. Our goal is to develop Ben and his team be the first to reach $10 million and hit 100 sales while offering the same level of service.

The by-product of having a great team, aside from your income growth, is the quality of service you can offer. Owners today are much more focused on their client experience and service experience, so the more people you have in your team that’s sustainable, the more contact and service can be offered. The owner is going to be much more satisfied.

With the teams I have turned around it started with a white piece of paper. We scratch out where someone wants to be in their life. Not everyone wants to work in a team; some people want to be their own agent and have an assistant, earning a nice living out of real estate. I am passionate about building super-teams because it gives people scale. It gives the agent longevity – not only professionally but personally as well.

If you are doing everything by yourself in this business, it’s an unforgiving industry. It’s six days a week and you are going to burn out if you are the only person who has to do everything. Building a super-team gives you freedom and flexibility.

People who are passionate about what they do, I buy into their energy. Your colleagues will want to work with you if you’ve got the right energy; it empowers them. You’ll pick up referral and repeat business off your colleagues and this energy will also feed into client relationships.

Real estate is all about energy. When you walk into someone’s house, they get a feeling about your energy; whether you are interested, connected and committed to achieving them a result. When you are standing in an open home, buyers get a feeling as to whether you are excited and enthusiastic about the property.

If people are genuinely happy and secure in their environment, they are getting out of bed and want to be at work. But the worst thing about a negative team member is not just missing a buyer enquiry or putting a buyer or seller offside – it’s negatively infecting the rest of the team.

I spend my entire day, every day, trying to make people happy around me and I think I’ve been succeeding at this for the last 20-odd years. I’ve worked to put my vendors in that position, my home life is like that, my work life is like that. And the secret to getting people happy around me is to make sure I’m happy.

Why am I still skipping to work after 28 years? I know I can empower others and change their lives, which is key. People working in my team now have said, ‘You’ve changed my life’. This is something you can’t buy in a shop.

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Matt Lahood

Matt Lahood is the CEO of Real Estate at The Agency Australia. Visit theagency.com.au