This is my week for meetings with the state board of Realtors around what the Virginia Association of Realtors immediate future. While traveling to Richmond, I listened to an audio book. I rarely get to do that, but this three hour space of time was perfect.
In the book, Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin take their experience and the lessons learned in Ramadi, Iraq and share how they learned leadership in the toughest circumstances in life. It's well worth a read, or if you're like me, plug in an audio-book and enjoy.
One of the primary topics at the VAR summit was a discussion of the strategic plan for the VAR. The first idea reflected back on the Extreme Ownership book. In Extreme Ownership, the first key to business success is "Own it." At VAR, the point was to "take ownership" of your business. There's definitely a pattern here that needs to be explored.
Taking ownership of your business is critical to your business success. It doesn't matter if you work for a major brokerage or a boutique office. If you're in the real estate business as an agent or broker, you are in business for yourself. Because of that, the ability to succeed or fail falls directly on your shoulders.
One of the most frustrating calls I make is to address a problem that has arisen during a deal. When the agent on the other side starts down the path of explaining how other staff members dropped the ball, I get irritated. The truth is, the agent is passing the buck rather than taking ownership of his/her responsibility as a business owner. I don't want to hear excuses. I want to hear solutions.
If there are problems down the line, it's the agent's fault. How can I say that? Because that agent is responsible for making sure the staff down-line is fully trained and aware of every expectation and responsibility they are to handle. If they missed a deadline, forgot to send a document, failed to communicate with a client, it's the agent's fault.
The expectations of that staff member is failing. Why? Does the staff member not understand the parameters of his/her job? Does he/she not grasp the time sensitive nature of this business? Is it possible that a laissez faire attitude in the office has cause a breakdown in the need for immediacy in contract responsibilities? Maybe the employee isn't a good fit for the business. Here again, dealing with that falls on the agent's shoulders. I let an employee go two years ago. She was never going to be a good fit. I made the mistake of taking a recommendation from a friend.
It doesn't matter what the problem is, the agent is responsible. That may sound harsh, but if challenges in an office results in leaders passing the buck, then resolutions never happen. That environment falls on the leader.
I recently did a performance review of my office administrator. The first thing I asked her was "Is the job what you were expecting?" She acknowledged it is. I had given her a two page list of what her role would be and every expectation I had of her before she signed on. She came in with her eyes wide open. Once we passed that question, I told her, "Listen, I've dropped the ball a few times over the past year because I didn't communicate effectively in the heat of a deal. I apologize and I promise that I will make sure you have everything you need to do your job effectively as we move forward."
She seemed surprised that I was taking responsibility for the deals that had hiccups along the way over the past year. It wasn't her fault. I didn't clearly communicate my expectations and the details of her role in the individual deals that we were both involved in. On one, I gave her wrong information. It was my fault.
Leaders, don't pass they buck. Harry Truman is famous for a sign on his desk that said, "The buck stops here," and that is true of everyone of us who has chosen this profession. The buck stops with each one of us as we navigate this business. Owning your business, or extreme ownership, is just that. Taking ownership of the good, the bad and the ugly. But, with that mindset, comes the ability to do incredible things. Own it.