True leaders create leaders: Michael Choi

Area Specialist Founder Michael Choi shares the major mindset shift that set him on a path to leadership success.

When I started my first business at just 24 years of age, my father asked me a simple question – how’s business?

That question, and the conversation it led to, prompted a major mindset shift that set me on the path to leadership success.

I told my dad business was frustrating. I wanted to know why the rest of the team didn’t work as hard as me.

His reply was: If they worked as hard as you, they wouldn’t be working for you.

This was a simple yet powerful message for me, and got me thinking about the importance of leading your team to become leaders themselves. This, I believe, results in the best possible outcomes for both individuals and business.

When we think about leadership, we’re generally thinking about management.

But it’s important to realise that true leadership is demonstrated through actions, it’s not a title or a position.

Anyone has the power and the influence to promote change.

Invest in people 

The best investment any real estate business can make is human capital.

People are the intangible assets or values of a company that don’t show up on the balance sheets.

It’s critical to hire a diverse group of individuals, with different skillsets and personal attributes. 

This should cover all kinds of skills, for example; experience, education, loyalty, problem-solving, people skills and discipline. 

It’s important to hire people with complementary skills that may fill in the gaps, as hiring people with similar skills to you can make you both obsolete.

Avoid hiring people that agree with everything you say – smart people hire smarter people.

You can use the team as a sounding board, and you will find others can come up with better ideas than yourself, if you are humble enough to accept them.  

Understand your team

It’s up to you, as the team’s leader, to bring the very best out of your team, and encourage them to be leaders within their own right.

As the market becomes more competitive, to retain amazing talent, leadership roles must extend beyond personal workplace growth and into the lives of individuals.

This could include sharing experiences in relationships, or discussing tax and investment strategies.

It’s absolutely critical that leaders understand how their team thinks, in order to motivate them in ways that mean something to them.

This extra value complements the monetary value a business gives in wages, commissions and bonuses.

Progress not perfection

Perfection is an unattainable goal. It subconsciously tells those who chase it that they’re not good enough.

Perfection means once a goal is achieved things can stop, but progress means continuing to move and improve.

In real estate, the distance between wins can sometimes be large, so celebrating and tracking progress and personal bests is paramount.

As long as there’s progress, results will follow as a natural by-product.

Progress is about individual achievement, rather than competitive, focusing on achieving your personal best.

The only person you should compare yourself to is who you were yesterday. Because let’s face it, it’s difficult for a new or young agent to compete with a 10-year veteran for the top salesperson award, if they both have a strong work ethic.

Celebrate mistakes

All mistakes are good mistakes, providing they’re new ones.

If the team is making new mistakes, it means they are trying things they haven’t tried before. This is progress.

As long as they aren’t making the same mistakes, this should lead to growth.

People can feel down and stressed after making mistakes, and this is often compounded by having to report the issues and associated costs to leaders.

This additional pressure can potentially lead to more mistakes.

A solution for this may be that each team member receives an allocated amount of funding to account for mistakes each year, that they are able to access without reporting the mistake. 

Anything left over in the kitty becomes their end of year bonus. This can elevate accountability, while also rewarding those that make fewer mistakes. 

Create empowerment 

Creating empowered self-leaders, enables managers to lead without unnecessary distraction and pressure.

As managers, sometimes we avoid going into the office – it can feel like everyone wants a piece of you – a hot chip thrown on the beach and seagulls are pecking at you from all angles!

This is because you have created an environment where the team relies on and always needs your advice or approval.

To improve this, create proactive solution makers in your business.

While this can take time, it’s up to you to make it happen.

When someone comes to you with a problem, politely turn them away and ask them to come back to you with two solutions, which are then presented, and you both agree on one.

After a short while, they will have the initiative to come to you with solutions, fixing a majority of the problems themselves – and you will have given them the authority to do so through experience.

Light up the room

Everyone has the ability to light up a room. Some light up the room just by entering it, others do so when they exit. 

It’s important that you always light up the room when you enter it; your smile, your presence and energy need to be felt. 

The type of person that leaves the room less bright when they leave, is the type of person people want to be led by.

Without hurdles there is no growth 

The ability to navigate hurdles is an essential part of growth, but the last hurdle you want to have to jump is lack of growth.

Leadership is the ability to paint the picture of the future so well that your tribe can see it, feel it, and taste it, as if it were already here. 

Maintain a strong conviction of where you are going, your vision, and lead the way by example.

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Michael Choi

Michael Choi is the Founder of Area Specialist, a real estate platform that helps top performing agents open up their own business without the cost, time or risk.