Nick Brown: teamwork makes the dream work

I have worked with many agencies in my 25-year career, and while I think every business and every leadership team differs (none more right or wrong than the next), there is one fundamental thing that ‘leaders’ overlook.

To me, leadership is not about being the boss and ordering staff around. You can do that, but it will not get you far in the long run. 

To me, leadership is about being a constant support to your team.

It’s about being there to help them when things get tricky, being there to carry the extra workload when things get busy, and, most of all, being a person the team knows they can rely on for support, guidance, and mentorship.

A leader does not exist without the team around them doing what they are engaged to do.

Everyone plays their part in a business, and without each other, we do not have a team to get the job done.

You will notice I used the word ‘staff’ just once above and quickly changed it to ‘team’.

Leadership should never be a them and us mentality (which the titles of managers versus staff often create in a workplace, even if it’s not intended).

True leaders work with their team; they don’t control and direct them.

Sure, the leaders must make the hard calls at times, pull people up when things go wrong or give the team the direction and guidance needed, but I hold steadfast in my belief that a leader is in a leadership role to support more than anything else. 

In my training and advisory work throughout Queensland, I often see leaders telling their team how to complete a task or do a job a certain way. 

Keeping consistency in the office is a must but how often do these leaders take a step back and ask the team (who are doing the tasks) how things could be improved or streamlined?

One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is thinking they know more than their team does, and that the way they have always done a task should be the way it’s completed in the future.

Who stops to weigh up how efficiencies can be improved or streamlined with the ongoing introduction of technology?

Who stops to weigh up that each team member may have a slightly different strength (or weakness) in the same task as their colleague next to them?

Who stops to think, “Hey, if I include the team in some planning and improvements in our business, they might get on board with the changes easier?”

Our industry is filled with people from different walks of life, and it’s one of the things I love the most about real estate.

So many leaders make decisions based on personal opinions, thoughts, and experiences instead of weighing up what is best for the business.

Their business and their agency should not be about what’s best for them; it should be about what’s best for the agency, the team, the clients and the customers they work with.

Some of the crazy things I have heard from business owners and leaders in recent times include:

  • “It’s how I want it done. Therefore, it should be done that way” – (by someone who had not been a property manager for 15 years but wanted things done the way they did it back then).
  • “I am not paying the tradies weekly. That’s too much bookwork for me to follow up” – (even though the contractors loved the quick turnaround times in payments). In this instance, the weekly disbursements found the contractors more cooperative and willing to go the extra mile when called upon for urgent work.
  • Who do you trust?” I asked a leader who they trusted to look after a particular client. Their response was, “No one!” It is a bit scary if the leader doesn’t believe in their team.

Some takeaway points to help you become a better leader that your team want to support and work alongside.

  • Do not make the job personal. Be personable with your team but show them that when you must crack the whip, it’s because of business, not your opinion.
  • Say thank you from time to time. Even if they are just doing the job they are paid to do, saying thanks, and showing some appreciation from time to time shows the team that you value them.
  • Be inclusive. Include the team in the decision-making if the changes impact what they do for your business.
  • Share the highs and lows. Share the good and bad news that we deal with as a real estate agency. Be real and show the team the highs and lows of operating a business. A team that understands why decisions are made is more likely to stick around and work with you.
  • Know your why. Give some thought to what you want your business to stand for, and make sure it is reiterated to the team in several ways. That could be shown by how you select your clients (you don’t have to take on everyone who walks through the door), how you reward the team for a job well done, and how you support them when times are tough.
  • Lead by example. Get out there and get your hands dirty. You can’t expect your team to do a job you wouldn’t touch.

A leader cannot lead if they don’t have a team.

Never think you are above or beyond sitting on the front desk as relief and support, going out to do a vacating inspection or an appraisal.

Show the team you want to be involved and that you are leading by understanding their roles, the business you all work in and, above all, that you are there for them no matter what happens.

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Nick Brown

With over 20 years’ wide-ranging experience in real estate, Nick Brown is the founder of Edge Property and runs his own Training and Advisory Service to educate agencies and their teams.