WHAT QUALITIES DID Martin Luther King have that our industry leaders need to adopt? Peak performance coach Tanja M Jones outlines the reasons why leadership in the real estate industry needs to get personal.
HOW DID American civil rights activist Dr Martin Luther King Jr get over 250,000 people to attend his public address from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on 28 August 1963, without Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, a website or a glossy flyer?
According to international leadership expert and TED Talk sensation Simon Sinek, it’s because he spent his time leading up to the speech in sharing his vision. King consistently talked about what he believed and he passionately shared his dream.
Unlike many leaders, he didn’t walk around speaking about the problems, the hardship or struggles; he didn’t chastise the competition or blame external conditions. He invested his energy in speaking for a brighter future, a future that inspired people to stand for what was possible. He invited them to be greater than they knew themselves to be and asked them to take action to end racism in America.
Those who believed what King believed took his message and made it their own. They each shared it with their families, communities and friends. They then gathered more people who shared the same values and, on a sunny day in August, he gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech (not the ‘I have a plan’ speech). It was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century, and he joined Jefferson and Lincoln in the ranks of men who have shaped modern America.
According to Sinek, there are leaders and those who lead. In his TED talk ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’, Sinek says, “We follow those who lead not because we have to – we follow those who lead because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them but for ourselves.”
Over the past 30 years I have studied the world’s greatest thought leaders, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and humanitarians. I have come to learn there is a formula to their success, and that five simple steps can increase our ability to achieve our goals.
VISION. We must have a vision, a ‘why’, and it must be fuelled by our belief for a better future. It needs to be clear and measurable. It also needs to be inspiring. It cannot simply be to dominate the market or increase offices from 50 to 100. It must be something that elicits a personal response from our people and it needs to have three parts:
- The big picture: the future we are building
- Positional awareness: we need to know exactly where we are. This includes our turnover, profit, market share, productivity, culture and so on
- A detailed strategy on how to bridge the gap between our current reality and the desired end result. Our strategy then becomes the coordinates to reach our destination.
ENGAGE. The next step is to inspire our people to partner us in realising our vision and deliver the strategy. The vision must become a shared dream. We must ask ourselves whether we know why our people come to work each day. If it is only for their commission or pay cheque, it is not enough of a reason for them to stay and we run the risk and cost of high staff turnover.
Communicating the vision with our team, key stakeholders and clients gives them a reason to dedicate their time, energy and resources to our cause and make it their own. We must know what drives others, what lights them up and what they value most, and they need to know our ‘why’.
EMBODY. Inspiring leaders have strong values and they live them out loud. It goes far beyond a mission statement framed and hung on a lonely boardroom wall. Inspiring leaders walk their talk and bring their values to life, for it is who they are at their core. We need to communicate our values effectively and create an environment that enables our people to embody them as their own.
A core characteristic that all inspiring leaders have is responsibility; we must take full responsibility for the fulfilment of the vision and for the state of the current reality. Inspiring leaders never blame or shame their people; this erodes connection and impacts performance.
Our job is to ensure the best quality communication, systems and processes, so our teams can simply get on with building the dream. It is imperative to create a safe space to learn, a place where mistakes are respected as a healthy ingredient for growth. As leaders our values become the behavioural ‘how’ to the organisational ‘why’ so we must demonstrate integrity at all times.
ELEVATE. Knowledge empowers people to produce results. We need to let our people know the game plan and back it up with effective systems, procedures and tools to ensure accuracy, efficiency and high levels of productivity. Inspiring leaders want others to win more than themselves; they are the greatest servants. They proactively invest in experts who add value to the training and development needs of individuals and the collective.
ASSESS. Consistently evaluating the performance of our business and its people and always searching for ‘a better way’ helps us to achieve success. We must test and measure everything and actively involve our team in the betterment of the business. Celebrate success, the little wins as well as the big ones.
Don’t take things personally and never confuse failure with ‘being a failure’, as this is the number one cause for poor performance and low morale.
Finally, if we see people as the greatest asset of our business – not as the workforce but as the life- source to fulfilling our dreams – and treat them accordingly, success can truly be achieved.