The path to real estate leadership is never the same—and it is rarely straight. Some start out with their eye on the prize, growing up knowing they want to be a “CEO.” Not me. It wasn’t something I ever thought I would be. A hard worker, absolutely. Someone with drive to accomplish a goal, sure. But a leader? A CEO leading the world’s largest real estate franchise organization? Not a chance.
When I started out, I never bothered to look too far ahead. I focused on the task at hand and the role I was given. I was fueled by an intense fear of failure coupled with a competitive drive to “show up” for those who entrusted me with a job to do. I felt compelled to not let my leadership or my team down. I was comfortable saying “yes” to all opportunities, taking risks and figuring it out as I went.
With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that I was unknowingly defining my path to leadership the entire time through the fearless way in which I approached challenges, the can-do attitude with which I accepted opportunities and the unwavering desire to grow, learn and succeed.
These qualities empowered me to leave an early role as a commercial real estate agent that I wasn’t passionate about to take a corporate role where I was introduced to the world of real estate franchising. From there, I held numerous roles in contract administration, help desk, onboarding, learning and affiliate servicing—one of my all-time faves. Through these positions, I found my passion: to help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams, ensure that the promise we are making as a brand is delivered upon, and never, ever lose sight of our customers along the way. I learned that the franchisee/franchisor relationship is much more than a contract; it is a commitment to teamwork, ensuring one is better off with us than without us.
To me, that same commitment to teamwork is the true path to leadership. It is a devotion to those you serve, a promise that allows a team to grow with you and be lifted by you, and a vow that you will never lose sight of their goals.
As I grew in the world of leadership, I learned to trust in those who showed up where I couldn’t. I learned that a team can take us much further than any one person ever could on their own. I learned to ensure that I am creating paths for others, making room for the next generation to find their way and extending a hand to help others achieve their dreams. And, as I continue to learn, the value lies in the journey, not the destination.
As President and CEO of Realogy Franchise Group, Sue Yannaccone is responsible for managing leading real estate franchise brands Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate, CENTURY 21®, Corcoran®, ERA® and Sotheby’s International Realty® as well as Corcoran and Sotheby’s International Realty company-owned businesses.