ERA Real Estate vice president, and new Inman contributor, Lee Ann Roughton shares practical ways to help all women in real estate rise together.

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I started my career with ERA Real Estate in 2007 when Brenda Casserly was president. During her tenure with the brand, sales volume increased by more than 50 percent, and the franchise network expanded significantly both domestically and internationally.

Brenda was recognized as an industry leader and named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women in Real Estate in 2008. She was called many things: smart, compassionate, intuitive, wise, a trailblazer, a dedicated mentor and, most importantly, a friend.

She had a tremendous impact on me and played an important part in my development as a leader. She believed that every single person — no matter their role — played a vital part in the success of the brand and that everyone made a difference.

That inspired confidence at all levels of the company. When you spoke with Brenda, she always made you feel like you were the most important thing for her in that moment. She gave you her full attention. She had such genuine humility and compassion, and through that, created a sense of togetherness. 

Pay it forward

I’ve taken much of that with me. I’ve spent the better part of my career helping real estate companies grow, serving as a consultant and champion for broker-owners across the country.

We focus on business planning and strategic growth opportunities that drive profitability through increased engagement with our company’s services and support. Like Brenda before me, I have a genuine vested interest in the success of the people I work with.

When I think about supporting the development of women leaders in real estate, I believe having that vested interest is key. But there are some other things I have noticed among the cadre of female leaders, particularly broker-owners, that have really moved the needle.

Transparency equals confidence

The first is transparency. Over the last 10 years or so, I have noticed a greater level of transparency among the women I have worked with. They are transparent about their business — what’s going well and what’s not. They aren’t afraid to admit when things aren’t going well.

In my opinion, that level of transparency comes from a sense of confidence, which I believe has also increased dramatically among women leaders. 

Being transparent requires the belief that it’s OK to ask for help. My perspective as their business partner is that the only way I can help is if I know what’s wrong. Women are very willing to collaborate — with me and with others — something I see as a sign of strength.

Don’t go it alone

Collaboration has always been a defining characteristic for successful women leaders across our network. Working together, we can better leverage each other’s strengths and insights to grow and succeed. 

We saw this in action at our recent annual business conference during a panel of ERA’s Hera Society, the brand’s dedicated group focused on advancing women in leadership within the affiliated network and the industry. We explored the inspiring stories of our own powerful women leaders and the challenges they have overcome to not only build a better future in real estate but to raise everyone around us up.

I really loved the advice that Liz Gehringer, president and CEO of Anywhere Franchise Brands, gave. “Take inspiration from other women. Purposefully lift each other up, and don’t tear each other down. Express gratitude for your women mentors every chance you get. Help advance women in their careers by drawing attention to the issues, success and resources available.”

What I’ve learned

So, what’s my advice for women looking to lead in real estate?

First, don’t let all the noise distract you from your goals and priorities. It takes discipline and focus on what you can control.

Start with yourself; the first sale you must make is to yourself. In other words, no one will buy into you and your abilities until you do.

Then, it’s important to formalize a plan or roadmap to get you where you want to go and execute on it. Set milestones and thank yourself along the way when you achieve them.

Next, actively find a mentor: Someone who can support you, who can be with you on your journey and give you room to fail. That’s where we make the most progress.

Then, carefully cultivate the people you surround yourself with. Ask for real time feedback, it is a great way of reaping the benefits of learning from others.

And finally, pay it forward. Make it a point to create more leadership pathways to enhance and expand growth opportunities for other women.

Good luck to you on your journey, and know that I am rooting for you.

Lee Ann Roughton is the national vice president for franchise performance with ERA Real Estate.

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