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.
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.
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.
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.
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.