We’ve all attended leadership keynotes, workshops and webinars. We are motivated by the presentations but in practice what does leadership look like in the real world? In the book Good to Great they outline the attributes of a good leader which include being humble, supportive, a good communicator, coach, caring, demanding but fair, respected, a good listener, and someone who knows how to hire and let people do their thing. We all know what a good leader looks like and doesn’t look like so why is it so hard to be a good leader? How do we apply leadership attributes to get the results we are striving to attain when we are just trying to keep our heads above water, manage staff, grow the business, and make a profit? It isn’t easy. Here are 5 real world tips to implement change through leadership.

1. Tell a Story

Doesn’t everyone like a story? Stories are powerful because they create a picture that everyone can relate to and understand. A story grabs us emotionally. Share your story and your why for starting the business, your dream, and the steps along the way to today and communicate your vision for the future and how everyone has a role to play. Paint the picture in detail, clearly, and if some things are unknown that is ok…admit you don’t know how you will get to the goal, but you know with everyone’s help and hard work all of you will get there together.

2. Ask for Help

You may have the dream, but you don’t have to have all the answers. Ask for help. This is a huge problem for many executives and business owners. There is a feeling that everyone is looking to you for direction and the answers. Yes, they might be looking to you to lead the way but reaching out to your team for the answers or how to support them to achieve the goal is the easiest way to gain respect, build momentum with your team, and get everyone rowing in the same direction. People want to do work that matters. They want to feel that they are contributing to the success of the business. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Being vulnerable is a leadership skill that few are willing to exercise. It will feel uncomfortable after all that is what being vulnerable is all about.

3. Coach

Leadership requires us to develop our team so they can excel, grow their skills, knowledge, leadership abilities and ultimately create a career path for them so they are an integral part of the business’ success. This means coaching them. Taking the time to train them instead of just telling them what to do. Yes, it takes time but creating leaders is worth the investment for your future success. Success doesn’t happen overnight. If you care about your people, you will invest the time to develop them and in return you earn their respect and loyalty. They will buy into your vision and will work to make it happen.

4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

In real estate we hear the phrase, Location, Location, Location. Being a Leader in the real world means communicate, communicate, communicate until you are blue in the face. Keep in mind as the leader it doesn’t mean you have to be the spokesperson every time. I found value in bringing in colleagues to teach and share their expertise. Hiring a business coach can be helpful, too. If you have kids, you know all too well that when you start to speak or try to educate your kids on a topic, they roll their eyes and are dismissive. Employees are no different. Sometimes, having a different messenger will make the impact you are seeking. The point is to find ways to communicate regularly and remind everyone why you are doing what you are doing. People don’t buy in until they see the benefit to themselves.

5. Team of Advisors

Even if you are a one-person business, it is your responsibility to seek out advice and get educated so that you are making informed decisions about your business. Everyone needs a team of advisors. Large companies have a board of directors or executive board. Your team should include advisors such as an attorney, CPA or tax specialist, banker, insurance expert, HR consultant/attorney once you start hiring, a business coach or colleague to act as mentor, and financial planner – you don’t want to be collecting rent when you are 90 years old!

You Can Be It

You can be the leader your business needs to thrive. Ask yourself, “What does my business look like in a year, in five years? Let yourself dream. Don’t get stuck in the logistics. Paint the picture of your ideal business. Tell your story. You have a compelling story for why you got into property management, why you started your business and where you want to take it in the future. Ask people including your team of advisors for help and how you can support them. Most importantly be human, and humble. If you truly care about your people and your business you don’t care who gets credit, you want everyone to succeed. It isn’t about you. It is about providing the best product or service possible with the best people delivering exceptional customer service that will lead to incredible profits and a workplace that is healthy and the envy of others.

Kathleen Richards, MPM®, CPC®, MS in Management, was Broker/Owner of a successful management company with CRMC®. She knows firsthand the highs and lows of being a business owner. She is a nationally recognized coach, speaker, instructor, author, and thought leader for the last 30 years focusing on business, leadership, and specifically the field of property management. She owns PM Made Easy – customizable products to streamline operations and founded The Property Management Coach. She can be reached at 800-475-3084.