By Don Kottick

Having spent my entire career in the real estate industry, I have met many of the icons, the villains and other people who work in our great industry. I have observed and worked with some of the best and a few of the worst leaders throughout my career.

Some of the notable leaders I have worked with include Simon Dean, Stuart Lazier, Phil Soper, Colum Bastable, Bill Phillips, Bob Wallace, John DiMichele, Gurinder Sandhu, Jamie Gairdner, Blake Hutchison, Maura McLaren and Darrell Kent. The lesser leaders, whom shall remain nameless, have provided me with many excellent lessons on how not to lead or behave in business.

One of the benefits of working with different organizations is that you are able to observe and test many different leadership strategies and techniques. Some work, some do not.  With all of the looming changes to our industry, there are two key elements that will be necessary for a brokerage to be successful in the years ahead: leadership and culture.

Neither is mutually exclusive. You can’t have a good culture without a good leader and you can’t be a good leader unless you can create and maintain a good culture. To be a good sustainable leader you must be an “authentic leader”. I was first introduced to the concept of authentic leadership by Andrew J. McConnell, a former RBC senior vice-president and a life-long student of leadership.



McConnell always posed the question, what does it take to be a truly authentic leader? Through my journey, I have come to believe that an authentic leader first must be true to himself, even when the going gets tough. In order to earn the respect of your team, you have to be consistent, fair, transparent and able to make decisions when necessary.  The leader who can’t make a decision is often worse than no leader – both result in a rudderless organization. An authentic leader must be empathetic, introspective and aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.  The authentic leader always hires the best to compensate for their own deficiencies, thereby strengthening and developing a well-heeled team.

Vivian Risi
Vivian Risi

Authentic leaders must have a vision on where the organization is headed and possess the ability to make it happen. The authentic leader creates the culture and the building blocks that promote the work community/environment to deliver their vision.Vivian Risi, president of Royal LePage Your Community with multiple offices in the Toronto area, is an example of an authentic leader. She developed a work community with more than 1,000 Realtors, who all share and embrace a culture of success, family, fun and charitable works.

Garry Bhaura
Garry Bhaura

Gurcharan “Garry” Bhaura, president of Century 21 President Realty in Brampton, is another authentic leader. In five years he built a successful brokerage with a cohesive corporate culture. Bhaura has created a culture of success, collaboration and family using business planning, training, technology and support. It is one thing to create a culture when a company is small, but maintaining the culture through rapid growth is a real testament to his unique leadership abilities.

Augy Carnovale
Augy Carnovale

Authentic leaders leave a legacy after they have vacated their positions of leadership. Augy Carnovale was a leader who always maintained a stellar reputation throughout his career as he created a strong Re/Max presence in the western GTA. Augy has since retired, but his reputation and the legacy continues to this day and will exist for many years to come. Augy never wavered from his position as an authentic leader who made the tough decisions while maintaining transparency, and he continues to this day to give back to the community and our industry.

Miles Nadal
Miles Nadal

One of reasons I joined Peerage Realty Partners was the opportunity to work with one of Canada’s most prominent authentic business leaders, Miles Nadal. The visionary and philanthropic Nadal is recognized internationally for developing world-class corporate cultures with such powerful tag lines as “The Place Where Great Talent Lives” and “Dare to Dream”. Nadal utilizes a unique partnership model as a way to propagate his vision for creating win-win cultures of success and empowerment. This authentic leader’s tenacity and his unyielding focus on culture enabled him to create a dominant presence in three different business segments – advertising and marketing, wealth management and now real estate.

The common bond shared by these authentic leaders is that they remain true to themselves; they are genuine and courageous, they dare to dream and they all give back to the community.  It is not what you learn in business school, but the experiential learning from one’s life journey that is the dominant reason these unique individuals have attained the moniker of being truly authentic leaders.

The real estate industry needs more authentic leaders to help us navigate the complexity of issues and pressures that we are now facing. It is within your grasp to become an authentic leader.

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