Chiyoko Kakino, Senior Vice President, Brand Growth, CENTURY 21 Canada
The real estate industry sees constant change, from the ups and downs of the market to the constant new faces in brokerages and on bus benches. Since our CENTURY 21 Canada brand has been operating in Canada, one of the most noticeable changes we’ve seen is in the diversity of our brokerage leaders. Over the decades, more and more women have entered leadership positions, and I wanted the chance to learn more from them about what it takes to lead a brokerage today.
Three brokers, Joanne Evans from CENTURY 21 Millennium, Geneva Tetreault from CENTURY 21 Masters and Laurie Brugger in CENTURY 21 Westman all sat down with me to share their perspectives on leadership and what they’ve learned in the course of their distinguished careers.
1. Don’t try to be someone else’s idea of a leader
It can be intimidating to step into a leadership role, and doubly so as a young woman, but all three brokers agreed that they had to find what worked for them. By being their most authentic selves, they were able to discover what worked for each of them and in turn, their agents. “Someone told me I wasn’t cutthroat enough,” shares Geneva. “I went home and really thought about whether or not I was going to make it in this business, I kept rolling it around and I came to the really cool conclusion that I was going to show up and be myself. It was a moment that really challenged me and made me ask myself if I needed to change what I was doing in order to succeed, and 15 years later, I’m really glad I didn’t.”
“You’re not going to be everyone’s favourite person, and that’s okay,” Joanne says. “In the beginning, winning respect was the biggest challenge, and you really have to know your business. But eventually you’ll earn the respect – whether someone gives it to you, that’s their choice. But when you have the confidence to know how far you’ve come, you’ll see how your unique perspective is an asset. I used my communication skills and my ability to listen, and I believe that knowing how to nurture relationships really helped my career”
2. Be ready to change with the industry
I mentioned earlier that real estate is constantly changing and all three brokers agreed that the best leader is adaptable. “You need to be a futurist and you most definitely need to know what trends are coming,” says Laurie. “You need knowledge and the desire to keep learning and pushing forward. I sign up for training courses, leadership courses, I watch the news.
“You need to be dedicated to always learning, accept that we’ve never arrived where we know everything, and be flexible while also standing by your core values.”
“Knowledge is power,” adds Joanne. “You need to know at least twice as much as everyone else to be taken seriously as a leader, and you have to be on your toes.”
3. Always be willing to listen and learn from others
“You need to check your ego at the door,” Joanne continues. “Some of the best ideas that I’ve incorporated into our company have been from our agents and the willingness to listen and to work with them is a real asset when you’re leading.”
If there’s one thing that stood out from me during our conversation, it’s that the best leaders excel in making others feel seen and understood. Laurie knows this well: “A huge part is emotional intelligence. You need to be able to communicate with your people and know exactly how each person ticks and always have an open door for them.”
4. Remember that everyone is human – including yourself
Leaders have to be strong for their agents, but the modern leader isn’t afraid to acknowledge that everyone has challenging days. Agents are human, and a good broker will work with them, not against them. “If someone wants to know an opinion, I will give them the truth quickly, but in a kind way,” Geneva says. “That way we can look for opportunities, and I think that style of elevating and lifting each other up is a big piece of my leadership. I show up for my agents every day, and we’ve created a culture where if you can’t be at your best on a day, we work together and ask how we can help each other get back to that.”
“If you’re having a bad day, you’re having a bad day,” acknowledges Laurie. “You have to keep it in check, but there needs to be humanity involved in leadership and that’s very important. I feel that leadership used to be viewed more as someone being alone at the top, but now I feel that successful leaders are pushing their team up from the bottom.”
There’s a lot that makes a good leader, and every brokerage needs someone a little different to best suit their needs. But I truly believe that the leaders in our CENTURY 21 Canada system are among the best of the best, and I was so grateful to learn from these three remarkable women to see what they’ve brought to their companies to help them thrive. If you’re a broker or in a leadership position in your brokerage, I hope these perspectives have helped you think about how your leadership style can continue to grow and evolve into something that allows you to continue elevating your agents to their fullest potential. And if you’re an agent who finds that this conversation has resonated with you, I hope this helps you open a dialogue with your broker, or possibly even inspires you to seek out a leadership role for yourself.
If you’d like to hear more stories from leaders in our network sharing lessons they’ve learned over their careers, check out episodes of The Real Estate: Real Success Podcast on your preferred podcast platform.