April 15, 2021
Joe Fairless

Six Characteristics of a Great Leader

When you see the word “leader” what pops into your mind? The President? The CEO of a billion-dollar company? The head coach of a championship sports team? A military general?

Most people have a similar concept of what and who a leader is. Determining the similar characteristics between this archetype can help us as commercial real estate investors build wealth, build a legacy, and do more good in the world.

Brandon Turner of BiggerPockets was one of the featured speakers at BEC2021. In his presentation, he provided the top six characteristics of a great leader, as well as how to become a better leader in your commercial real estate investing business.

A Great Leader is a Quitter.

“Find a way to quit your job as soon as possible by paying an expert to do it.”

There is a reason that all successful companies have countless Executives, Presidents, VPs, Directors, Associates, Analysts, etc. under the leadership of one CEO. It’s because great leaders work on their business, not in the business. And running a commercial real estate company is no different.

Sure, when you are first starting out, it might be just you and a business partner performing all the job functions. But a great leader hires expert team members to focus on the day-to-day tasks while they focus on the overall direction of the company. Or in the words of Brandon, “Your job is to be a general”. As a general, you lead the expert soldiers under your command into battle.

A Great Leader is a Cutter.

“Only focus on the one or two things you need to be doing.”

Any job function in a commercial real estate business can be broken down into a “dollar-per-hour” task. Every hour of work on said task results in X amount of dollars of revenue for the business.  Once you have hired expert team members to perform the lower dollar-per-hour activities, it frees up your time to focus on the higher dollar-per-hour activities. In fact, a great leader will focus on one or two activities with the highest dollar-per-hour output.

For example, a great leader will focus on creating multi-year goals for how to scale their commercial real estate company. Then, they may formulate an overall strategic plan for accomplishing these goals. But rather than acting on the strategic plan themselves, they assign the implementation of the strategic plan to an expert team member.

A Great Leader is a Caster.

“Write down the vision for where you want your company to go.”

One of the things Spartan Investment Group attributed to their ability to be named one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies by Inc. Magazine was their culture. A commercial real estate company’s vision is the cornerstone of its culture.

A vision is an image of where the company wants to see itself in the future. It will involve what success looks like to you, your team members, and your customers, as well as the behaviors you will need in your company to realize your definition of success. As a leader, you are responsible for casting a vision that is inspiring to your team members and customers, and you must ensure that you and your team members are living out the vision each day.

A Great Leader is a Coach.

“Ask the right questions to improve the performance of your team.”

In sports, when a team performs badly, the head coach is usually the first person to get fired and replaced. On the other hand, the greatest coaches win games and championships year-after-year, decade-after-decade, even though the team consistently changes. College sports is the perfect example with complete turnover every four years. That is because the coach is one of the keys to success. One aspect of great coaching (and great leadership) is the ability to get the most out of a team.

As a commercial real estate investor, a great way to maximize the performance of your team is to conduct frequent performance reviews – ideally once a quarter. A best practice is to ask each team member to analyze their own performance – what they did well, what projects they are proud of, and what they can improve upon. You should provide them with similar feedback – here’s what you did well and here’s what you can improve on. Then, come up with goals or tasks for how to improve their performance over the next quarter based on the combination of your and their feedback.

A Great Leader is a Scout.

“Find and attract top talent.”

Continuing with the sports analogy: Did you know that the University of Alabama’s football team spent 12.3%, or $2.6 million, of their budget on recruiting in 2019? Strong leadership is just one ingredient to success. The other is the ability to find and attract top talent.

Attracting and finding top talent presumes you know what “top talent” is. According to Real Estate InvestHER founder Liz Faircloth, the two biggest mistakes commercial real estate investors make when building a team are a lack of alignment and a lack of diversity. Top talent must align with your culture (mission, vision, and values) because when they don’t, they tend to get fired or quit, which wastes your company’s time and resources. Top talent also has diverse personalities and skillsets. Another important aspect of top talent is their character. Most skills and competencies can be taught, but the character cannot. They are either a good person or they are not. Also, top talent has been successful because of skill, not luck, and a deep dive into their track record is required to determine which is the case.

The most important thing to know about attracting top talent is to make sure you are living out your culture. Don’t say one thing and do another, because top talent who were attracted to your company will quickly quit when they realize you say one thing but do another.

A Great Leader is a Student.

“Recognize you don’t know what you are doing and that you need to continually grow.”

Some interesting statistics: Tony Robbins read 700 books in seven years. Warren Buffet spends five to six hours reading daily. Bill Gates reads 50 books a year. Mark Cuban reads for three hours daily. Why are the world’s richest people reading so much? Because great leaders are continually growing.

Another great way to grow as a commercial real estate investor, in addition to reading, is to ask for feedback. However, due to the “success paradox,” the more success you achieve, the less feedback you will receive from others, which may stunt your growth. Therefore, a tactic to overcome this success paradox is to ask for anonymous feedback from your team using a Google Form. Also, find a few people in your circle of influence (the best would be a spouse or significant other) and ask for candid feedback.

What Makes a Great Leader?

A great leader focuses on the most important tasks and outsources the rest to expert team members.

A great leader casts an inspiring vision for themselves, their team, and their customers.

A great leader helps their team constantly improve and attracts the best of the best.

Great leader is also constantly improving themselves by being a student of their industry and of life.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.

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