I will never forget the advice my mentor gave me: If you think you are a leader — the true test of leadership is to simply turn around and see if anyone is following you.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend the Keller Williams Family Reunionin New Orleans, Louisiana.
I entered the convention center and made my way to the main event. Thousands of agents swarmed every entrance of the giant room, and when the doors opened, what I saw was incredible.
A room the size of two football fields — no exaggeration — packed with 15,000 energy-packed people faced by seven Jumbotrons the size of any giant roadside billboard. Lights were flashing everywhere and music bounced off every wall.
It was then that I realized what it must have taken to build such an organization and do something so impressive that gets all of these people to make the investment to come out. And then, it dawned on me that the single thing making all of that happen was leadership.
Leadership is something that is so lacking in the residential real estate business, and something that is ever so needed.
Then came the most impressive reveal. The entire Reunion was led and orchestrated by the leadership team of Keller Williams. There were no outside speakers, world-renowned entertainers or even fancy banquets on the agenda.
The Gary Keller Band, headed by Gary Keller with guest musical appearances by CEO Chris Heller and Vice Chairman Mo Anderson, provided the entertainment.
All too often in this industry, I find myself in constant search for leadership. And more often than I would like, I have had trouble identifying true leaders.
Leadership is required to navigate and encourage change. Although this industry talks a lot about increasing professionalism, improving the consumer experience and adding value to what we do, it is clear that the leaders of KW are doing more than talking about it — they are delivering it.
With total respect for the KW brokers, Keller Williams has gladly accepted the huge responsibility of bringing value to each and every KW agent by helping its agents apply their precious resources — their time and money — to only those things related to their businesses.
This industry is full of people who started careers somewhere else and then entered the real estate business with hopes of being successful.
The challenge for these people has always been in understanding how to make that happen when faced with a plethora of shiny objects and disintegrated systems and solutions.
As a result, we now have as many as 600,000 agents who struggle to make a living, and for whatever reason, do not take this business seriously.
There were no shiny objects in the room in New Orleans. Just the sharing of fresh, comprehensive, strategic and fundamental principles necessary for creating future and ongoing success.
For as long as I have been in the business, I’ve believed that only those agents who are truly serious and committed to this business should be permitted to serve the consumer.
By developing agents who are “in the business of real estate” rather than “in the real estate business,” I believe KW is helping to achieve that objective. A brand that, in its own way, is systematically sorting out the part-time, full-time and no-time agents.
Keller Williams’ support for higher standards in the industry, including a dedication to caring for employees and an improved consumer experience, is spot on.
As a former senior executive with two of the major real estate franchise companies, I have always had a great deal of respect for what Gary Keller and his team have worked to accomplish. But now, after my trip to New Orleans, I can confidently say this company is ideally positioned to do what it has been designed to do.
And as for that ultimate test of true leadership?
Gary Keller can turn around on any old day and count more than 130,000 real estate professionals — and more each month — following him. And not just on Twitter or on Facebook, but in real life.
So the real question for all you leaders out there might well be: Have you turned around lately?
Kenneth Jenny is an expert in the residential real estate brokerage industry and real estate marketing.