Monday, September 04, 2017
Written By: Suzanne Gantner

Leadership is a term that is commonly used, but almost impossible to define. That’s part of the problem with leadership development, it means something different to every person, a true definition is hard to find. However, when a person steps up with leadership abilities, it’s amazing how everyone can point at him/her and say, “that’s a leader.”  The most commonly identified trait in a leader is integrity; without it, no one will want to follow.

For me, a leader is someone you are drawn to follow; someone who stands out to you in many different ways, and exhibits the strengths you deem necessary to make a difference.  Why is all of this important to REALTORS®?  Everyone leads at some point in their life, whether professionally, personally, or in their community.  Do you have what it takes to answer the call to lead?

Real estate sales itself is a form of leadership. Clients look to you to lead them in the right direction in their home search. New agents might look to you as a mentor leading the path to success, or you might decide to become involved with your Association on a committee or even the Board of Directors, all of which are leadership positions.

According to famous leadership author, John Maxwell, there are five generally accepted levels of leadership. As you move up in level ranks, the rewards are greater, and potential followers are more readily willing to learn from you.  These levels are position, permission, production, people development, and pinnacle.

The first is “Leadership by Position”. This is the basic level of leadership and is very straight forward; people follow you because they have to. Your title says you are a leader, and therefore, people are compelled to follow. For this level, you would hear something along the lines of “I am the boss/leader, you must do as I say.” One could also call this level “learning to lead”, you are starting to learn about leadership, but to reach your leadership abilities is limited to your title only.  An example of this would be “I’m your boss, you need to do what I say.”  People need to follow these people whether they want to or not. 

The second is “Leadership by Permission”. In this level, people want to follow you.  You’ve moved past the title of boss, and have built relationships with your followers, and they trust you and your mission. The term “leading with the heart” is applied to this level. You might have a calling or a drive to serve a specific mission. An example would be, “I want to work for you because I believe in you.”

The third level of leadership is “Leadership by Production”. This is where followers will begin to seek you out because of who you are and what you have done for your organization. This is where true leadership starts to blossom. You are walking the talk, and have become a true leader. Leaders at this level are looked up to and respected. When an important change must take effect inside of an organization, this leader is looked at to facilitate this change. This might look like wanting to work for a specific broker because all of their agents sell $10 million a year. You now believe in them and you’ve seen what they do for the organization. 

The fourth level is known as “People Development”. This is where people follow you because of what you have done for them, and you begin to build up other leaders. You’ve mastered the previous three leadership levels, and you now start incorporating them into your training system and work towards building up future leaders. Relating to real estate, this could be an agent who you have mentored and enabled them so well, they have gone out on their own and started their own brokerage. They want to be just like you.  You are committed to creating leaders and people see that in you. 

The fifth and highest level of leadership is known as “Pinnacle”. People follow you at this level because of what you represent out in the world.  This is a very small group of individuals and they have spent years building organizations, companies, Associations and they are committed to working towards becoming the best of the best. People seek you out because of who you are and what you represent.  They follow because of your values.

Jimmy Carter was a leader by position when he was President.  Today he is a personhood leader who created Habitat for Humanity.  People follow him because of his values and mission.  These people are usually bigger than life.   

Leadership is really all about being able to affect change, change for the good of the world.  Whether small or large we each have the opportunity to affect change.  We’ve seen people working on the Hurricane who are leaders, you’ve seen them in your office, maybe in your neighborhood.  If you want to move up the leadership chart, there are many books and audios on the subject, and each of them has a different message. Read about famous leaders and politicians and people that you personally admire! Start working on yourself and developing yourself into the person you would want to follow.  But remember this also may require change- change in yourself if you really want to make a difference.

He’s a couple of books and a leadership company with daily e-mails to help get you started. 

  •  1. Captain Class: The Driving Force behind the World’s Greatest Teams, by Sam Walker
  •  2. The Push: A Climber’s Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits, by Tommy Caldwell
  • 3.  Subscribe to the Center for Executive Excellence – CEE.   Get daily articles and information on leadership. 

Start today to create tomorrow’s new leaders.  

About the Author:
Suzanne is a graduate of Southwest Texas State University (now known as Texas State University – San Marcos). While at SWTSU Suzanne floated the River regularly, attended Wurstfest, joined the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, was an OBI for the Theta Xi's and graduated with an Art Degree. Shortly after, Suzanne was asked to open up the Central Texas Market for the Greensheet paper. In her career, she has worked in many marketing positions in the home building industry, which led her down the path she has come to love. The housing industry was Suzanne’s direction to greatness. She worked my way up in several Fortune 500 Home Builders to the level of VP of Marketing. Those were great jobs and great days. When 9/11 happened, the nation panicked and many jobs were lost due to uncertainty in the market place, including hers. At that time she created her own ad agency - Creative Minds where her clients where the home builders who had let their marketing staff go. Suzanne got her real estate license and started selling and listing in 2003 and never looked back. She loves where she is and what she does. Suzanne serves as the 2017 President of the Williamson Count Association of REALTORS®.


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