leadership Image When you are confronted with potential change to your organization, do you believe you are a “big picture” thinker or a wall builder? True leaders understand how resisting necessary change is never the right option. What type of leader are you?

I recently had a conversation with an MLS/Association executive that made me realize how strong some of our leaders are, as well as how short sighted others are.  This particular MLS executive who oversees a fairly good-sized organization with over 5,000 members brought up the issue of sharing data with another MLS.  It really wasn’t the specific reason we were talking but it did have relevance via the big picture on things we were discussing, so we discussed it for a while.  What struck me immediately about this executive’s commentary was the absolute lack of defensiveness when talking about all of the options from data sharing to full regionalization. This leader clearly looked at the situation from a position of what is best for his members and the business, plain and simple.  There did not seem to be any hesitation or resistance to any and all possibilities though clearly some courses of action could potentially impact this person’s position.  This is the type of person you meet and within seconds you respect them and you trust them because they operate from the “big picture”.  They don’t worry about losing their job because they know another opportunity will open up that will be better.  What they focus on is doing the right thing as the executive of their organization. They are a pleasure to work with!

Some years ago when I was an executive at a well know MLS company and I went through a similar experience.  Our executive team was dealing with a very bad string of MLS customer losses, our product had issues, and more than anything there was a feeling that things were going in the wrong direction.  Our customers felt it and the market felt it.   Our president at the time, a great guy who ran a number of companies for the parent company in addition to our MLS asked us what we needed to do to turn the tide.  Some of the suggestions involved product initiatives and some involved sales strategies but one actually involved him.  I told him I thought he might need to replace himself.  Well you can imagine how that suggestion might be taken by different people that run companies.  One might tell me it was time for me to replace myself or another might ignore it completely.  This particular executive, however, without the least bit of defensiveness asked me why I thought that.  I went on to explain that I thought his image was too closely tied to the negative events that had plagued our company over the last couple of years and even though I knew he was an excellent leader that we might need a new “face” to signify the company had really changed.  He simply looked back at me, and the rest of the executive team, and said “make it happen, I agree”.

My point is simply the fact that these two leaders I mentioned see their role and responsibility from the “big picture” view where they really do want to do what is best for their company and/or the industry regardless of what it means to them personally, or might mean.  They also know that not doing the right thing doesn’t change anything.  Eventually making “self protection” decisions or trying to build a wall around yourself, your business or your MLS ceases to be effective.  Eventually things will change anyway.  These “big picture” leaders don’t want to be in positions where they are protecting a foregone conclusion; they would rather move on to the next real challenge and be on the crest of things that are developing not protecting things that are dissolving.

Regionalization and data sharing may or may not be the right answer in any given situation.  These are complex issues and each area has to be looked at for what the real market pressures and needs are.  It is not a cookie cuter world.  Likewise with the leaders we interact with.

When we work with MLSs and Associations involved in data sharing, consolidation or regionalization we see every type of personality you can imagine from the “big picture” leaders to the “turf protectors”. If you are in a position where consolidation, regionalization or data sharing is really needed, if the consumers and agents and brokers need it, ask yourself what type of leader you are.  Are you trying to hold off inevitable change or are you really looking at the “big picture” to see what the best outcome should be regardless of how it affects you personally?

I truly believe the leaders that work for the “big picture” never have to worry about protecting a position because they stand above the crowd.  They are easy to spot and good opportunities find them.  Likewise, building walls becomes a full time job that can never really be satisfying and ultimately doesn’t change anything.  Eventually markets that need it will consolidate and provide better service to all that rely on the real estate industry.  Why not be a catalyst for the right type of change rather than a wall builder.  Ask yourself honestly, what type of leader are you?

Mike Audet – mike@wavgroup.com