ERA Real Estate President Alex Vidal writes that agents are the true heroes in real estate. Leaders need to understand that and support them if they want to get better results.

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I remember my first days in real estate as an office assistant. At that time, I was looking for work and had no idea it would lead to a 26-year career in the industry and my role today.

I was clueless. And thank goodness my boss was someone who didn’t bark orders. Instead, he was so good at explaining things. He recognized my skills and sensed my motivation to learn and take on more responsibility. He allowed me to thrive. Within a year, I became the company’s lead recruiter at 20 years old.

It happened because my boss recognized the power of leading as a coach rather than doing so as a manager. Here is the difference. I think a manager leader tells people what they need to do. They tell their team, “Do this, do this, do it.” 

I’ve never enjoyed this type of leadership. I believe the best leaders serve as coaches who build trust and help guide their team through self-discovery and through what they need to do. This is especially important in real estate, where you deal with many job functions, skills, personalities and motivations.

I’m a leader who’s in the trenches with my team. Almost every day, I’m on a plane, visiting our broker-owners and agents. I truly am one of them.

My job is to lead and do what I can, what our team can do, and what brokers-owners can do to make an agent’s life easier and help them make more money. Once we accomplish that, things trickle up. This philosophy allows me to continue coaching and model how our staff goes about supporting affiliates and agents. 

Over the years, I have been asked by many broker-owners, office managers and team leaders how they can become comfortable being a coach, not just the boss or leader. Here are some suggestions that have helped build my career.

Are they ready to be coached?

Start by finding out if somebody wants to be coached. You can’t help somebody who doesn’t want to be coached or genuinely wants to improve. And, if somebody on your team doesn’t want to be coached and they’re not performing, then you have to coach them out instead of coach them up. 

The second step in coaching is to have experience. You have to have been in their seat before. You have to understand their job. For me, having sold real estate and been in a variety of roles throughout my career, I have experience and credibility.

I’ll also give a step 2A. You, as a coach, have to have passion. You have to have energy. Those you coach will thrive off of it.

The third suggestion is one often overlooked by managers. It is so essential to build a relationship with the person that you’re coaching to that they feel valued, heard and understood. This includes the simple steps of putting your phone away and looking them in the eye when you’re speaking to them. Ask lots of questions. Repeat their responses so that the person feels that you were engaged, listened and heard.  

Find the why

Uncover what that person’s “why” is. What is driving them? What is motivating them to do a great job? Delve deeper than financial motivation. We all want and need money.

Try to learn their emotional “why.” Once you know this, it becomes easier to motivate them, especially on the more challenging days when you might have to remind them of why they are in real estate in the first place.

I had one recent example where an agent raised her hand at one of our company events and said her motivation is to make enough money to take her grown kids and their families on a summer European vacation.

We worked together, and I helped her realize that the dollar figure she needed to reach to make that trip happen wasn’t the right driver for her. She needed a more emotional why. She lit up when she thought about the joy she would have enjoyed having lunch with her daughter in Athens. Or her daughter thanking her for bringing her entire family to Europe.

She would be driven by these thoughts as she would by how excited her grandson would be as he walked through the Coliseum and envisioned the lions and gladiators going at it because that’s what kids do. That would get her out of bed in the morning when she did not want to.

Stack wins

People like to win and feel good. As a manager, you want our team members to see success. They don’t need home runs. Help them get singles. Stack up those singles. As that happens, you build more credibility as a coach, and they’ll trust you more and more as you build their confidence, allowing you to ask for even more.

For example, many agents struggle to reach their sphere of influence. They feel awkward or don’t know what to say. As they are coached, they get more confidence to make the call. They have good calls and good conversations. Confidence builds to the point that they ultimately get a listing agreement. That’s stacking. 

My top tip is simple: It’s not about you. It’s about them. Share their wins and tout them, but don’t toot your own horn. You are not the hero; your agents are. 

Alex Vidal is the president of ERA Real Estate.

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