How to survive as a leader in 2020

What worked before, won’t now

Moving from the management consulting space into real estate over the last five years has been a real eye opener into the way we do business in Australia.

In my life before real estate, as a business consultant, I was invited into boardrooms to solve big hairy problems.  Kinda like the problems you are dealing with.  Business problems.  People problems.  Leadership problems.

And, the interesting thing is that while it was great fun; we always came up with a solution, together.  Simply because we talked face:face and took the time to understand each other.  Importantly, the client always left with a solution that felt right. For them.

Fast forward to the real estate world and life is very different.  Imagine my surprise when a disagreement about the cost to cut a set of keys for a rental property ($20) could blow out to a week long argument and hurt feelings all round.

For a long time, I assumed it was my incompetence, the market, property management, the fee structure, the anything.  And, then it finally dawned on me.

Sales Agents.  Real Estate Agents.  People selling anything have taught their buyers and customers a lot of dirty tricks.  And, what I mean here, is the high pressure sell.  The do it now sell.  The don’t worry about that sell.  Tricks that were learnt and worked in the 80’s.

Which makes our customers, in the land of real estate sales, on edge.  On guard, for the trick, the bite, the pain.

Humans are smarter

Culturally, our customers, and indeed ourselves, have got smarter.  Our customers know exactly when we are bullshitting them and are after the quick sale.  Because, collectively, we have taught them.

Just pause and think about your last visit to a big box furniture store or a car yard.  How did it feel when the sales person, no matter how friendly they were, asked if you needed some help?

Like your skin was about to be set on fire.  Right? Yes.

It is all about them

Like your car yard experience, our customers, feel before they even see, when someone is acting in their own interest.

My absolute best days in real estate have been when I have managed to get my consulting hat back on and understand what the customer really wants and needs.

And, this is the reason why I just love an ‘off market’ sale where I can match a buyer to a seller.

It is inside these conversations, that I can take the time to understand what the next chapter is for them.  What are they trying to achieve.  An upgrade, a downgrade, a change of lifestyle, an ending or a new model?

Build trust

Building this level of trust and openness takes some time and patience.  Even just trying to get past the automatic ‘guard up’ is tough.  And, this is becoming tougher in the internet driven world.  Because, now we are teaching our customers about clicks, speed and new tricks.

What we need now, more than ever, is a relationship based conversation.  A conversation that is genuine and all about understanding the needs and motivators of the humans behind the transaction.

Lead from the heart

For any of us to survive and thrive in the new decade, we must approach our customers from our hearts and seek out the human that exists in all of us.

Absolutely, the internet gives us the gift of connection.  It allows us to find like minded humans.  It allows us to research, shuffle and sort, but the real work of 2020 is in finding opportunities for empathetic connection.

The sales will sort themselves out.  The lists.  The clicks.  The numbers.  They will happen.  Because what we really need are leaders in the next decade that commit to leading from the heart.

Heart felt, empathetic leadership, is the only thing that will cut through the noise and the pace.

Leadership that says ‘I hear you’ and ‘I understand what you need and want’; not transactional leadership that says ‘I know what is good for you, buy this’.

As we prepare for 2020, let us pause and reflect on the realities of leadership in the trenches and the importance of heart felt leadership that drives real connection and change.


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