Leann Starks says she always wanted to be a superstar, a REALTOR® who did everything. That was in 2000 when she first joined her mother and stepfather, Kay and Ray Edwards, in Cincinnati real estate. How to “pound the pavement” is something she learned from Ray, which, she says, grounded her solidly in the business. She also watched and helped her mother, which proved to be a constant source of learning.
Perhaps that’s why, after four years of mostly solo work as a real estate professional, Starks realized that “really good leaders are really good because they have really good people around them.”
While she claims that she still operates “old school,” with a three-ring binder and her Top 300 list, today, Starks leads The Leann Starks Team at ERA Real Solutions Realty, composed of five team members who demonstrate strengths in a variety of areas. “I am seeing my time freed up because there are things I just do not touch anymore,” explains Starks. Here, the team leader shares her thoughts on leadership and what it takes to run a successful team.
Lesley Grand: Tell us about your pathway to becoming a team leader at ERA.
Leann Starks: I was with another franchise for most of my career and changed companies in September 2021. Since then, I have been embraced by ERA and Realogy, and I have never been so happy.
LG: How did you decide on ERA? What makes the brand such a good fit for you?
LS: I brought my five key people with me, and we have a great team. A collaborative, forward-thinking company, ERA is giving me the ability to help other people build their own careers. I recently purchased an office in Covington, Kentucky, and hired two agents in Florida.
LG: Tell us how your team is structured.
LS: My unlicensed assistant is in charge of all social media. After that, all other team members are licensed and fill in whenever we need help with marketing, showings and day-to-day details that get us to the closing table. I’m blessed with a team that understands the greater good.
LG: Talk about being a female leader in the business.
LS: I am a strong personality, and while we have strong male teams in Cincinnati, it took some time for me to earn that same stature as a female leader. In fact, there was only one other female leader in the city. But I have stood my ground and worked very hard to earn respect from the other local REALTORS®.
LG: Tell us how you’ve gone about earning that respect.
LS: I take a lot of pride in being a strong woman, and I always remember that my daughter is watching me. I am not a pushover. Someone on the other side of a deal may be unhappy with me, but I have learned how to take a step back and remind myself that we both have the same goal. We both want to close and get commission checks, so let’s find a common solution. And I have gotten very good at finding solutions.
LG: How do you stay supported and motivated?
LS: It is very important to surround yourself with like-minded women. I have a group of peers, and we are constantly lifting each other up. When I have a bad day, I have a solid group of women who tell me to get back out there and do what I know to be right.
LG: Describe what feels right for you going forward.
LS: First, if I can show other people that I believe in them the way ERA believes in me, we cannot go wrong. I also see myself moving into more of a management position where I do the deals that make sense for me, and I give everything else to my team members. That’s the picture I feel I could paint for myself. A superstar who has people collaborating with her to do everything for their clients.