By Penn Javdan

Professionals in the real estate business prize qualities such as strategic thinking, knowledge of the market and customer service in their quest for business dominance. While these qualities are essential to the successful practice of real estate, two equally important qualities should be noted: personality and leadership.

Personality figures prominently in every human interaction. Real estate professionals, builders and project managers are at the forefront of this interaction and it is imperative that they appreciate key leadership styles in order to successfully deal with different personality types. By exploring common leadership styles, special attention can be paid to how to resolve management issues in times of conflict or to prevent conflict.



Most leadership styles can be understood by the way they handle decision-making. At one end of the macro managerial spectrum is corporate focused leadership, in which all the decisions are viewed through the prism of what benefits the company. At the other end of the spectrum is employee focused leadership, which places the needs of the employees above all else.

These styles, however, represent extremes. A truly leadership savvy person would not view the needs of the company as being more important to or in opposition to their employees. There needs to be a balance between both interests – the leaders and those who are led. Often this requires a dynamic and strong individual to conduct and co-ordinate daily business activities, which can be better achieved by considering micro-level leadership styles. They can be categorized by their most prominent features.

Dictatorial:

A traditional leadership style, this takes an autocratic approach. Leaders retain all power for themselves and delegate little to subordinates. They make virtually all decisions and leave little room for dialogue. Such a style is more appropriate in an emergency, when a project is considerably behind schedule, when new employees are being acclimated to a new position or when rightful authority is being directly challenged.

Bureaucratic:

This leadership style focuses on policies and procedures. The leader in this case is someone who steers the ship according to these policies, ensuring they comply with them. It is a bit like those in law enforcement: their job is not to question or alter, merely to enforce. Scenarios that call for this type of leadership are those that operate according to a strict, technical plan with little room for improvisation.

Democratic:

A more modern approach, this style of leadership allows people from various positions within a team or company to participate and influence goal setting and work operation. This style can be very beneficial for leaders because it solicits some of the best ways of doing things previously not considered, and allows for a harsh scrutinizing of weaknesses in an operation.

It works optimally when employees or team members are well educated, experienced and driven; when pressing problems need to be solved and a solution seems elusive; or when grievances require discussion and tensions eased.

Orchestral:

Probably the most contemporary and experimental of all the styles, a leader in this case treats employees like members of an orchestra. One of the reasons this is such a contemporary style is because, in days past, very few people had specialized skills and could therefore not be relied on to perform certain activities. Now specialization has reached a point that it is possible to take this leadership approach when employees or team members are highly skilled and desire to succeed independently.

These workers must also take great pride in their work. It is not merely about getting the job done. It is about getting it done right and setting an example for others not only in the company, but in the industry. This style of leadership is also most suited to those who can meet set goals with complete confidence; third party experts who act as consultants or other similar temporary workers; or a new leader who lacks experience in a particular company’s day-to-day operations who wishes to integrate the wisdom and experience of those already in the operation.

How can knowledge of these styles help a real estate professional lead a team? Whether you’re a broker, sales representative, office manager, builder, site supervisor or project manager, you must ask yourself a few key questions. What style do I most naturally gravitate towards? Is this style always appropriate for every situation, or must I revise it based on context? Have there been times where I’ve used one style where another was called for? What were the consequences?

Long-term partnerships of any kind are built on quality and efficiency from all parties. The ultimate goal is to build trust and get things done as smoothly as possible. Asking these questions puts into perspective the ways in which real estate professionals can go about their business by building on past experiences and integrating their skills with those of others in a strategic, mutually beneficial manner.

  • Brian Martindale

    I have worked ‘for’ them all, and ‘with’ some as well. One works ‘for’ a dictatorial and a bureaucratic manager, whilst one works ‘with’ a democratic manager. One works ‘for’ and ‘with’ an orchestral manager at one and the same time when one has a skill set separate and apart from all others in the mix who also have separate skill sets that might otherwise confound one another. The two former management types are common whilst the latter is uncommon. But, in the end, there are really only two management categories: successful and unsuccessful.
    Successful managers are usually more intelligent than the others, and they are more psychologically aware of differing personality types and thus more aware of their hot button points of creating positive energy output commensurate with their abilities and stress control levels. The very best managers are natural psychologists (students of human nature without the PH D.) unencumbered with classroom indoctrination, but who really do care about their group members’ lives. Which is why there are so few actually great managers, because most managers become managers due to their obvious desperation to become managers, often because they are sociopaths who want to have control over others. There are studies which have shown these words to be true. The best managers are ambivalent about becoming managers, and are thus chosen to be so by their bosses who are themselves able to let go the reigns of power.
    The best manager I ever worked with had little formal education, came out of the ranks of the tradesmen, labourers, site superintendents, engineers and architects on construction projects. He understood the ways and means of appealing to the disparate personality types (by the thousands) that he worked with over the years. You don’t get to that place of experiencing knowledge of functioning human nature in a classroom. But the psychology classroom is a good starting point for those interested in understanding themselves, and thus, others.

  • Carolyne L

    Fascinating textbook definitions: This is one of those sets of views arrived at by someone outside the real estate industry, looking in, not provided by an industry insider. But nonetheless a pivotal point of analyzing business in general, through which the definitions do in fact apply to organized real estate.

    Within the real estate industry structure there are so many varying types of leaders and teams, from corporate or privately owned company offices including directors, presidents and vice-presidents, all making daily corporate decisions in the moment (meetings, meetings, and more meetings, often running late into the day and sometimes into the night), to the head office staffers and all their related underlings; the individual branch offices or independents, and their support staff. And then, in real estate sales teams: “take me to your leader,” the boss of the sales team. It’s never easy to put together a cohesive group of people who are prepared to stand or fall for one another in the name of satisfying the public, the consumer, the one ultimately paying the freight. To achieve such, not just in a productive sense, but taking into consideration the human element, is nothing short of amazing.

    This contributing article writer, being a professional (fiction) writer, adequately addresses the various definitions, no question about it. And surely, the definitions do in fact apply to our industry. But it would be interesting to hear how many insiders have addressed or analyzed their jobs and the jobs of others related, from these perspectives.

    By nature, top down structures provide ample opportunity for everyone from the top, down, to often mimic the personalities and structures of the top (those at the top of the hierarchy), historically.

    The professional REM contributing article writer certainly has an interesting bio according to Google (copied and pasted): “Penn Javden Educated at Harvard, Penn Javdan has lived in Northern California, Toronto, Paris, NYC, and Boston,Massachusetts.
    His fiction has or will appear in Whiskey Paper, Gravel Magazine, Freeze Frame Fiction, and The JJ Outré Review, among other publications.”

    Respectfully,
    Carolyne L 🍁

    • Carolyne L

      There’s been recent discussion in the REM forum about “the kind of people” entering the real estate field.

      There’s no good or most appropriate place to put this post so I reply to my prior post:

      The Fox News Bill O’Reilly story in the news currently brought to the forefront, memories of the sorts of things that go on in the real estate world.

      I know for sure that I am not the only one who witnessed such situations:
      A male colleague regularly openly masturbating, while sitting at his desk opposite mine, in an open bullpen where in order to move away from my desk I had to pass by him very close. He never said anything. Just continued satisfying himself.

      Other times he would just let the zipper be open in his pants and his privates exposed to the air as he “worked.”

      I know there are REM reader agents who will recognize the events I refer to.

      Desks were four to a hydro supply spindle pole, in clusters in the bullpen. His desk was a group of desks mounted flat along the reverse side of the boardroom meeting wall.

      The female agent directly behind him was one who experienced his antics first hand, when he tried to shove a corncob under her skirt, among other gross behaviours. She was engaged to a VP at a major local company who wanted to call the police, but the office manager advised not to do that.

      Besides, the manager was the one I referenced recently in a post who spent the better part of a theatre MLS Board presentation telling anyone who would listen what he would enjoy doing to the very pregnant presenter if he could have the pleasure of driving her to the airport so she could return to Fredericton later that day.

      Behind his adjacent agent sat the new agent I spoke of in another recent post, perhaps 35, who experienced immediately that she joined the office, being taken by the masturbator and his personal agent office years’ long friends, and the manager, to her “introductory to the office hazing” of sorts. Not every new agent was so complimented she apparently had been told. She was chosen.

      A celebratory lunch at a topless strip bar but she didn’t know where they were taking her, a few miles from the office, or she would have declined. She thought they were paying her treat, and left her purse in the office.

      We only knew what had happened when she came to the office back door in hysterics, knocking to get in, her keys were in her purse in her desk, needing cab fare. She had “escaped” the topless bar restaurant in a cab, frantic.

      This is the same fellow who regularly perched on his desk a life size very pregnant mannequin torso, along with his sex toys, so he could “engage and enjoy.” And the manager laughed it off.

      Only once, the first year, we were all at an office Christmas get together at the manager’s private home, where we were encouraged to sit on Santa’s knee (guess who?) where he could exploit the women agents’ private parts, with the manager having a great laugh.

      Often in summer months he would park himself in the reception area opposite the glass walled closing rooms with vertical blinds that we had to close if working in a closing room. Why? He wore very short, short shorts, with wide leg openings, shorts with no underwear. How do I know? He many times positioned himself on a facing chair with his testicles hanging out, on purpose.

      The middle age receptionist had been his friend for years, as was the admin Secty who sat directly behind her, and their only comment was: “Ignore him, it’s just the way he is.” This man was probably 50 but difficult to tell his age.

      He did a lot of charity work in the area and was actually named real estate board agent of the year. He didn’t do a handful of deals per year, but stood in for vacationing or too busy, years’ long office friends.

      Another local agent wore a trench coat that he flashed from time to time, exposing a sex toy strapped around his pelvic area, that popped to life as he flashed, shock value.

      What kind of real estate corporation had I joined?

      The list of this sort of real estate related behaviours is more long than this example. Not to participate or approve of this sort of behaviour labeled one as odd man out, in particular because a top producer “woman” agent was best friends with the masterbating fellow as was the manager.

      At one point that manager suggested why didn’t I open my own business where I could manage it how I liked, he couldn’t fire the group that he had been personal friends with for years, and by and large women didn’t complain, and paid me a big compliment, saying my work was to be proud of. But the bulk of the 26-agent office found no fault with this sort of inside office antics.

      Today, I wonder sometimes if this behaviour still goes on in our industry.
      Head office when notified by those who did not approve, were told: you have to learn to work “with everyone.” So we did and spent less and less time in the office.

      In another instance I was told I had to attend the “company box” to use free tickets at a Blue Jays’ game. I had absolutely no interest in sports but the manager told me head office had sent private tickets for me, to network with top producer downtown agents. I must go. I didn’t have a choice.

      So I went. There were no agents. They had given away their tickets to office “staff” and the one closest to me was plastered, and kept jumping around with her beer dancing and spilling in the air, and never spoke a word to me, only to her peers. Fine. I left. The manager had insisted I attend, and look, “I” had wasted the tickets in head office box. Great seats by the way. I was glad to see that the drunk women were not wearing our corporate ID. How embarrassing.

      Agents work hard, and play hard. But the sex antics were a different story. In those days there was no way to stop the disrespect, and some women were party to it.

      Carolyne L 🍁

    • Anna

      That is an impressive bio. I’m interested to know what his degree in Harvard is. I just recently “lived” in Punta Cana. Well written article.

      • Carolyne in Canada

        Tried to post as reply to myself. That didn’t work. So I post here…
        Being apolitical, I post this interesting article reference, at the risk of offending some. As readers will know, the topic is front and centre currently, some new version in your face almost daily in the news. Only in America? Of course not.

        And surely is in our own industry, perhaps hidden behind the veil. And it doesn’t matter if you are a top producer or a nobody. Women historically have been told: “Grin and bare it,” (“It’s just the way he is.”) “Look the other way.” And bosses in real estate did, and maybe still do (look the other way). Her individual stories, naming names as examples could be any one of us.

        Something apparel magnate, Donna Karan is quoted as saying, about “how women dress…” and later retracted, sheds light on the topic and duly noted in the outfit the speaker is wearing, perhaps.

        It has been noted many times in the press, and no one cares, or writes about, what any male subject of conversation is wearing. If this speaker were dressed in a business suit, would her words have more power?

        Of course in this TED story, the speaker is from the entertainment world. There are some female REALTORS, and even lawyers, who perhaps dress “inappropriately for business?” And the glamour shots with come-hither glances, that they choose for their web site marketing and promo speaks volumes, not realizing the (mis) interpretation.

        Shouldn’t be an issue, but it sometimes is. Not saying to be judgemental, but for alluding to they are on the prowl looking for a mate, maybe to be taken advantage of. But for consideration, perhaps: the wife of a seller might prefer not to do business.

        Maybe no one ever told them. It shouldn’t matter, but it seems like it does, when a real estate manager expresses his desire to have his way with a very obviously pregnant out of town guest speaker who was in fact, appropriately garbed, and a very attractive mature woman, his comments were not about how she was dressed; sitting next to me, I couldn’t avoid hearing his discussion with the fellow beside him to whom he was speaking. So that was disrespectful “to me.” A boring woman in a suit, only a few years older than him.

        This woman’s “TED” story at the link speaks volumes, and the header makes reference to the workplace; in the local newsworthy case link, the federal government workplace. What possible difference does that environment make; shouldn’t the referred to would-be rules and laws apply everywhere?

        And then there’s Canada’s position, addressed in this included local news link… Speaking to why nothing gets done… when folks complain, and why there’s nothing to be achieved by complaining. And why people choose to “look the other way.” Such stories just add insult to injury, perhaps.

        Carolyne L 🍁

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        Gretchen Carlson: How we can end sexual harassment at work | TED Talk | TED.com

        https://www.ted.com/talks/gretchen_carlson_how_we_can_end_sexual_harassment_at_work/up-next?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=image__2017-11-06#t-863811

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        http://www.ctvnews.ca/mobile/politics/new-bill-takes-aim-at-harassment-in-federal-workplaces-including-parliament-1.3666935