3 Top Tips for How to Become a Better Leader
Who should listen: Anyone who wants some truly fantastic advice about leadership and agents who want more successful businesses.
Key ideas: There are so many!!
Action items: 1. Discover the vision your direct reports have for themselves. 2. Develop a 3- to 5-year vision for yourself, and commit it to paper.
There are books written for people who want to know how to become a great leader, but the truth is most of us would be happy if we simply knew how to become a better leader, manager, or boss. If you’re looking for ways to improve your leadership skills, then raise your hand because this episode of Stay Paid and these show notes are for you.
Linda McKissack and Dana Gentry are two rock star agents, and, between the two of them, they have franchises, thousands of agents, numerous accolades, and a podcast, Everything Life and Real Estate. We’ve pulled only three of the many ideas about leadership (the three that we think are the most indispensable) that Linda and Dana shared during their conversation with Luke and Josh.
1. Tell your employees the truth
For these leaders, there is no greater gift you can give to an employee than to tell them the truth about their performance. This is especially true if you care about the people who work for you and who you want to see succeed.
There’s no denying that conversations with employees and direct reports can be difficult sometimes. First, you probably don’t want to have the conversation, and neither do they. Second, more often than not, an employee is going to want to deny their poor behavior, defend it, or deflect it—making it hard to address the problem. And there will certainly be emotions (nearly always negative) to contend with.
Even so, having difficult conversations is necessary if you are committed to seeing your people grow into roles with more responsibility.
As Dana says, we sometimes want to see our employees succeed more than they do. But if you want to become a good leader, then it’s on you to make clear what’s working, what isn’t, and what needs to change.
You owe it to them.
When you listen to the episode, you’ll hear Linda provide a framework for having these conversations. She mentions the basics, like being respectful and moderating your tone, but she also lays out what you need to do when managing difficult conversations—what the process is, what you should say, and what you need to ask your employees.
And asking your employees questions brings us to their next tip to improve your leadership skills.
2. Listen to your employees
Following close on the heels of having difficult conversations with employees is how to motivate them. What can leaders do or say that will sufficiently encourage their people to perform at their best?
According to Dana, the best thing you can do to motivate employees—even those who technically don’t work for you, like contracted employees—is to listen to them talk about what they want and then help them get it. And to do that, you first need to ask great questions.
Very often, leaders and managers will ask employees some variation of Where do you see yourself in the next five years? As questions go, this one has become cliché. Still, you can ask if your goal is to merely gauge someone’s level of motivation during an interview. However, if you genuinely want to know what gets someone excited, then you first need to be authentic in the way that you ask.
Tell your employees you’re interested in knowing where they want to go because you’d like to figure out if you can help them get there. And you don’t have to restrict the conversation to life at work. Ask where they would like to be in their personal lives. Where do they want to live? How do they want to live? Do they have a bigger purpose in mind when they come to work?
As Linda says, until you “get the book on someone” you won’t be able to successfully coach them. If you don’t know what someone wants, if you don’t know what their goals are, and if you don’t check back with them about those goals, then you can’t show them a path toward it. As she observes, “Talent only leaves when there’s no more opportunity.”
As you listen to the episode, consider what Dana says about great questions, great stories, and great experiences and how she uses them to motivate the agents who work with her.
3. Mentor your employees
When asked what advice they would give to new agents, Linda’s and Dana’s responses were more akin to what you would say to mentor any agent—new or experienced—because even experienced agents occasionally need to be reminded of what makes good business sense. And service professionals of all types can benefit from their guidance.
Always lead with delivering value. Needing to be able to deliver value to someone is the one thing that will never change in real estate or other service professions. Being able to solve someone’s problem (i.e., close their “value gap”) is all that will ever matter. Linda’s advice is to focus on what you’re going to give rather than what you are going to take. Dana refers to this disposition as having a servant’s heart.
Be sure to tell your story. The competition in real estate is strong as buyers’ agents try to find buyers homes they want and can afford, and sellers’ agents help clients wade through multiple offers. Dana points out that, especially now, agents must work on their business as well as in their business. Agents need to be marketing themselves, and Linda, Dana, Luke, Josh, and other Stay Paid guests have spoken about telling your story. Use social media, your website, videos and other means to communicate what is unique about you, your business, and your service.
Be able to change. Agents need to be able to change the way they do business. They must incorporate new technologies into their businesses. They need to create experiences for their clients that make them want to remain clients rather than wanting to go to discount brokerages. Dana argues that agents need to make it easy and convenient for someone to do business with them or be prepared to go out of business.
As mentioned above, there’s more great information, insight, and advice in this episode about leadership and other topics than what’s included here, so you’ll want to listen to Linda’s and Dana’s interview more than once. It’s a conversation sure to bring you value.
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Podcast: Everything Life and Real Estate on Apple Podcasts
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