Real Estate Leadership: Coaching for Growth Amidst a Changing Market

By Freddie Ray

Keller Williams Realty is the third largest real estate company in the United States, with over 670 offices. The organization is divided into regional franchise ownership groups and boasts a healthy complement of training to augment the success of its agent base. Residential real estate is the primary business of the company, with additional focus on commercial real estate and luxury homes.

The Partnership
Tipper Williams is the Regional Directory of Virginia for Keller Williams Realty. In the past 20 years, she has earned awards as a top salesperson, owned her own real estate company, and grown from salesperson to top leadership. During the term of this engagement, she has successfully led the largest franchise ownership group in the Keller Williams system.

Freddie Ray is the President and CEO of Motivation Coaching, an Executive and Leadership coaching company founded in March 2003.

The two met at a conference Freddie was attending with another client. "I was skeptical about hiring a coach," Williams said. "I chose her because of her success in business leadership and her credentials. She leads by example, she pushes me to be better than I thought I could be, and she challenges me to think before I act. Freddie has been my coach since 2005, and has helped me to grow as a leader, experience and respond to change, and helped me to focus on what is important for my teams and me to succeed."

The Challenge
At the beginning of the coaching engagement, the company identified desired results as leadership growth and business profitability. Tipper also had personal goals to achieve, including to exceed profitability goals and ultimately be promoted to the Regional Director position.

During the engagement, Tipper's role took her from Texas to Colorado to Virginia. Throughout, the desired results stayed the same; however, the issues were multifaceted. They included the lack of sustainable profitability in multiple offices, development and rollout of a new leadership position, the economic changes that disrupted the real estate market, and multiple moves that required Tipper to "start over" repeatedly-new roles in new states all within the same parent organization.

The Approach
Tipper was coached on leadership, accountability in systems development, business metrics, and change management.

In order to be successful, the client first had to learn what strengths augmented her efforts, and what behaviors hindered her success. First, a personality assessment was used to gauge her strengths and to open frank dialogue regarding leadership behavior. This allowed her to identify growth areas that would lead to greater success.

Second, the company was growing at a record pace, and this led to changes in position, changes in needs, and change management with teams. In order for Tipper to be successful, she had to focus on implementing systems that would allow for sustained success over time. These systems included hiring talent, developing business metrics to gauge current and potential growth opportunities, accountability systems to develop teams and new leaders, and more. Keller Williams Realty has a committed focus on training and development. In order for Tipper to succeed, she had to choose what company systems to implement, and how to apply those systems to individual and regional office needs.

"Gaining clarity is one of the best results I have from coaching. Weeding through everything that is thrown at me, stepping away from the challenges of a fast-paced industry and the frenzy of trying to be six places at one time, combined with the changing market and the needs of my team at times seemed impossible. Coaching with Freddie has taught me how to make sense of it all, how to identify what is most important, and how to make good decisions. Before, I might have made a decision based on what was right in front of me. Now, I have a process to follow."

Third, Tipper was faced with a multitude of changes. These changes included personally being moved from state to state, dealing with franchised offices that each had unique teams, and facing the uncertainty that came with the economic downturn. Change management became a major focus throughout the coaching engagement—from personnel to industry to leadership role-and continues into Tipper's newest position as Regional Director.

The overall key to this engagement is focus—focus on what is needed to be successful in business (sustainable profitability), on developing talent (hiring, training), on personal growth (change in positions, leadership scope), and more.

The Value Delivered
Tipper's results are many, and her commitment to success as well as to the success of the coaching engagement is tied to her "coachability." Throughout the process, she remained open to trying new things, to debriefing successes and failures, and to focusing on her goals and those of the company. This is a short list of some of her successes to date:

  1. Leadership skills development including business acumen, team building, and communication;
  2. Profitability for all offices under her watch, including franchise group success that exceeded company goals and benchmarks, placing her team at #1 for the group;
  3. Recruiting top leaders from competitive companies for office leadership positions, training them, and holding them accountable to goals;
  4. Systems rollout for sustained profitability;
  5. Regional training programs to augment team building and goal achievement;
  6. Successful rollout of the new "General Manager" position in the system, with record profitability numbers associated with groups in Colorado and Virginia;
  7. Attainment of the Regional Director role in Virginia;
  8. Attainment of a position on the Master Faculty for training at Keller Williams International;
  9. Change management to address the economic downturn and changes within the offices under her watch;
  10. Focus on a personal development plan to ensure growth as a leader, avoid stagnation, and lead by example.

Coaching enabled Tipper to stay focused amidst turmoil, to be accountable to the profitability goals set by the company, and to stay on track to attain her personal growth goals. "I don't say that something can't be done. Instead, I think in terms of how it can be done. I've always been an overachiever, and thought I could do it all on my own. I guess I thought I was supposed to do it on my own. What I found out was that I succeed when I'm challenged, and coaching has made me a better leader and helped me achieve my goals."

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 1). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Freddie Ray is the President and CEO of Motivation Coaching, Inc., providing executive and leadership services to corporations, organizations, and executives seeking improved leadership skills, increased productivity, teambuilding, and bottom-line revenue results. An accomplished business professional with over 20 years experience, her longevity and experience are highlighted by a solution-oriented approach. Since opening her company in March 2003, she has logged over 8,000 coaching hours. See the WABC Member Directory for more about Freddie. Contact Freddie.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.

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