On Sept. 14, RISMedia held its annual Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange, this year co-presented by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The exclusive, full-day, virtual event attracted thousands of industry professionals, featuring broker- and agent-focused sessions with real estate’s most influential and successful executives, brokers, agents, coaches and more.
During the “Women in Real Estate: Power Moves for Business Growth” session, Coldwell Banker COO, Liz Gehringer, led a discussion with four savvy women at the height of their real estate industry careers about five power moves women leaders can make to raise the bar for business growth and gender equity.
1. Promote yourself without apology.
“While this is something that doesn’t come naturally to some women, finding the voice to put yourself out there elevates not just you, but also your team and your company,” said panelist Jeanette Schneider, president of RE/MAX of Southeastern Michigan.
One way to do that, suggested panelist Christy Budnick, Global CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, is to think of women who have inspired you.
“Not just women from within your world, but in all fields” said Budnick. “Then emulate the traits you most admire in those women, including their poise at public speaking and managing media interviews that demonstrate their own unique qualities and the value that they and their associates bring to the table.”
“Collaboration and networking are at the heart of what women leaders instinctively do,” said panelist Lacey Merrick Conway, president and CEO of Latter & Blum. “It’s a strategy many working women take from their home life, where such cooperation is so essential, and bring to the workplace.”
Additionally, Budnick pointed out, true collaboration lifts everyone, not just the leader, and typically results in the best outcomes.
“There are lessons to be learned from everyone with whom you share ideas,” Budnick said, “whether from within your own industry, in other trades, even from those with whom you volunteer in the community or share other interests.
3. Take risks.
“Are women more risk-averse than men?” asked Gehringer.
“Perhaps,” said Schneider. “Initially, as a business leader, it made me a little nervous. But it turned out that each time I allowed myself to get out of my comfort zone, it became an opportunity for growth—and it gets easier each time, because you can see the accomplishments that come out of it.”
Budnick agreed, stating “Stretching yourself and surrounding yourself with other competent people can be a challenge. But in the end, not trying is more to be feared than failure, and following your gut will rarely steer you wrong.”
4. Lift others up as you rise.
“Women number about 60% of people in the front lines of business,” said panelist Kymber Lovett-Menkiti, regional director, Maryland/DC Region, Keller Williams Realty International. “But only 20% are in top leadership positions. What helps those women rise to the top are two things; passion for the work they do, and a willingness to bring others along with them just as they have been brought along, by both women and men.”
As a working mother, as a woman of color and for every woman in business, she added, shattering glass ceilings and bringing others with you amplifies the broader community and increases opportunities for success.
“Also,” said Conway, “while stepping into a previous leader’s shoes can be daunting, it’s important to find ways to make it your own. Asking other people their opinions, letting them know you believe in them and giving them opportunities to shine are not only signs of good leadership, they also open a pathway to greater success for the whole.”
5. Identify personal guardrails.
“Being a leader,” noted Gehringer, “often comes with overwhelming demands on your time, which can take a toll on your me-time and family life. What guardrails do you use to keep your work from taking over your life?”
“What works well for me is, ‘let me double check my calendar,’” said Schneider. “That can put some needed space between a request and your acceptance.”
Sometimes, suggested Lovett-Menkiti, a request for a time commitment can be a good time to leverage other people’s strengths.
“Think, who in my world would be better for this task than me—and then call on them,” she said.
For Conway, it’s essential to schedule off-time and stick to it.
“You have to step back and take time for yourself,” she said. “The breather helps you come back at your best.”
You must take some time to disconnect,” agreed Budnick, who said she is strict about scheduling vacations, staycations, even regular workouts or just to be with her family.
“Time away refreshes and invigorates,” she said. “It’s something every leader needs.”
Miss the event? Click here to purchase access to all the sessions at a special discount.
Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange 2021 Sponsors
Buffini & Company
Center for REALTOR® Development
Inside Real Estate
Real Estate Webmasters
Realty ONE Group
Elm Street Technology
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®
Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®)
David Knox Real Estate Training
Pillar To Post Home Inspectors
Sherri Johnson Coaching & Consulting
Barbara Pronin is a contributing editor to RISMedia.