Thursday Thoughts: Leaders are Problem Solvers

Real Estate companies and branch offices, much like all organizations, have more than one leader. It is never just the owner, the CEO or the branch manager. Throughout the organization, individual agents and staff can stand out as individual leaders with the power to influence the direction and performance of the group. It is these interior leaders that make possible what the guy in charge is trying to accomplish. Because they have more day to day interaction with their peers, they serve as guideposts on the road to the leader’s objective. In a real estate company, they would be a branch manager; and in the branch office, they would be a highly respected agent. In baseball they are called club house leaders. With Major League Baseball’s Spring Training in full swing, every team is looking to fill out the best possible roster of players. Every team is searching for the next five-tool player like the great Willie Mays who can run, throw, field, hit for average and hit for power.  But managers are looking for that clubhouse guy too; the interior leader who carries intangibles. They are often described as “coaches on the field” or “glue guys” because they help bring a team together. It is a rite of spring. The veteran who maybe has lost a step, or isn’t as fast or as strong as the rookie trying to make it to the Big Leagues, but come April you will hear that the rookie didn’t quite make it and the old veteran made it for one more campaign.

These interior leaders play a major role in creating the culture of the team, company or office by instilling either a positive or negative mindset in the group. These are influential people who have got the leader’s back – or are putting a knife in their back.

Here is how this principle applies to a real estate office. You, as a branch manager, may have both a positive leader and a negative leader in your office. The positive leader enhances what you are trying to accomplish. The negative leader detracts from the message and the atmosphere in the office. Both have the ability to influence the agents in your office. What you must understand is that there is a group of agents in the middle that can be swayed by either one. They are up for grabs. They can be swayed by the actions and the attitudes of these two types of leaders. If you find that middle group being influenced by the negative leader, you must address this immediately. You must get rid of any and all interior leaders that are contributing to a negative office/company culture; no matter how much they produce.

The problem solving leader must be aware that both exist in the group and both can amplify the message and culture of the organization or distort it. There is a reason why a player like Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, while never dominating any statistical category, is simply known as “the captain” and why he stands with players like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio as one of the greatest Yankees ever. His contributions go far beyond the play on the field. His demeanor, his preparation, his ability and willingness to stand before the media every day and answer the questions for his teammates, win or lose, are intangibles that are invaluable to a team and necessary to win not one but multiple championships.

At Intero, we have many example of leaders like this that influence our culture in a positive way,  highlighted by San Mateo Manager Jerry Kiss, the winner of the 2008 Intero Leadership Award, and Los Altos agent, and winner of the 2008 Intero Value Award, Albert Garibaldi. Both men exhibit the measurable results by which we define success in our industry, but their contributions go far beyond that. They both influence others in a positive way through their actions and lead by example. Their willingness to give of themselves and their time to help their peers and make sure Intero is a better company every single day defines them as positive interior leaders.