Management Vs. Leadership

Management Vs. Leadership

Everybody has, at some point in their lives, had a mentor. It could be a parent, a teacher, a manager or even just a friend you looked up to. Somebody who wanted to push you to the next level, or introduce you to a new skill or way of thinking. It’s not just being shown what to do, it’s being taught how to feel about the task that you are performing and why it is important to both yourself and the greater organisation you are a part of.

Schools, families, businesses: They all have mentors, managers, leaders. But being put into a position of authority doesn’t magically turn you into a good leader: That’s a separate skill entirely.

Management versus leadership

The first thing you need to realise is that a manager and a leader are two different things. Management could be described as a system or set of processes designed to squeeze out efficiency: Budgets and rosters as well as problem-solving behaviour all fall into the definition of ‘management’. A leader, on the other hand, understands that there is more to being in charge than the practicalities of the business. A true leader not only manages, but also inspires. Pragmatism, mixed with people skills.

Engaging and motivating your team is one of the biggest obstacles that you will face in your journey as a business leader. Before you can start inspiring others, you have to look inwards and think about your own attitudes towards your daily work. Do you see it as a series of tasks that just need to be completed, or do you think beyond this? Do you have a vision for the future of your role, do you think about how your position could be used to inspire others? Is this just a job for the here-and-now, or is this a career for years to come?

Management, at its heart, keeps the business ticking over. Leadership, on the other hand, helps your organisation drive towards business growth. Both are important in their own way, but it is the combination of these two skill sets that push an enterprise from the status quo into the future.

The role of the coach

Another aspect of a good leader is the ability to coach others. It is one thing to be able to do something yourself, but quite another to be able to teach someone else. You’ll often find that many people only coach others when it’s time to put out organisational fires. Maybe the person in question hasn’t been taught a particular process properly, or are learning about a new product for the first time. In other words, it is reactive teaching, rather than proactive.

Good leaders are certainly coaches, but they also don’t wait until the last moment to communicate what needs to be done. Driving your team towards results is one part reducing the amount of time you personally have to spend dealing with issues, and one part developing the skills of the people you are responsible for.

These processes will not only make it possible for your teammates to develop down their own career paths, bettering the company as a whole, but also creates a sense of self-efficacy: A feeling of confidence in their own abilities. You can compound this by leading from the front, teaching by doing, coaching according to your own strengths so that you are able to grow them in others. This is the physical manifestation of the desire to strive to do your best, something that every leader needs to be able to have themselves, but also be able to instill in others.

Developing a workplace culture towards success

However, there is only so much a single person can do. The true test of a workplace is the culture that it develops. A leader can have all the clear vision, all the skills, all the proactive coaching that they like, but without the attitudes of your team on your side, all the management in the world won’t count for much.

Whether you are in the real estate industry like myself, the owner of a retail store or the CFO of an ICT company, being able to inspire people both in the short and the long term is the key to success with your staff. Change ultimately starts with you and your attitudes toward your work, but by changing your own behaviour you are also leading by example – becoming the person that your team looks up to when it  comes to getting the job done, and done well.

With the right coaching methods, the right perseverance and the right people skills, mere managers can become true leaders. Organisational culture and success begins with the people in charge, so you’ve got to ask yourself: do you want to see the future of your enterprise filled with triumph? Then it’s time to start becoming like that same mentor you looked up to when you were younger. Change your attitude, develop your team and lead from the front; become the leader that you need to be.

People make the difference

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The concept of a “landlord” can be traced back to the Roman Empire. Back then, peasants were bound to the land, dependent on their landlords for protection and the provision of justice. As time has passed, the basic concept of the landlord providing a person with shelter still exists, but today, it’s overlaid by influences from courts, laws and the general evolution of what we now know as property management.  Advances in business, education and technology have shaped the industry we exist in today.

But let me ask you this question; is it the industry that’s different, or are we different?

I have a firm belief that property management is all about relationships. The product we deal in is property and housing, it’s true. But without the landlords who own them and the tenants who live in them, a property management business cannot exist. So given this, why do most property management businesses focus solely on the product and not the people?

In an industry that ultimately hinges on client interaction, communication and customer service, we seem to get caught up in the transaction, rather than focusing our attention on fostering solid relationships.  I often hear the saying “clients for life” being thrown around, but do we as an industry really believe this is possible? If we do, then clearly our industry has to be about people.

Furthering this concept, it’s critical that business owners and leaders ensure they have the right people inside their business.  All staff must know and understand the true nature of the client relationship and do what’s necessary to foster it, rather than just thinking about the product. As an industry we struggle in the recruitment sphere, essentially stemming from the fact that property management is not seen as a real profession but rather just a rent collection and maintenance service.  As leaders in the industry, we must ensure that we have a stronger focus on learning and development, offering career paths to people, understanding the true meaning of leadership inside real estate businesses and knowing what our industry is really about.

The technology space has also had a significant impact on our industry over time, with more platforms released into our markets, but a question here is “does the industry truly understand the power of technology or just rely on it as a tool that collects, transfers, records and houses data?”.  We must understand that technology will only perform to it’s full capacity when we have a solid understanding of use and is extended in full use by people.

The industry is already moving towards providing a complete suite of  investment services, delivering a broader range of knowledge and client services to the marketplace.  When our people understand the needs of both tenant and landlord and are able to effectively satisfy them, the concept of clients for life becomes not only a possibility, but an achievable reality.

What is your Point of Difference?

It is a basic principle in any market and in any business that as a supplier you must find a way to distinguish your products and services from your competitors in order to gain substantial market share and growth in the business.

If a supplier cannot do this, then the only way it can sell a product or service is to sell it cheaply. If every other supplier has the same problem then everyone will lower their prices and a race to the bottom follows.

It is believed that the Property Management industry faces this very dynamic because the industry is yet to find a way to clearly differentiate one property management business from another.

To effectively stand out in the crowd you must have a point of difference.  Working out your point of difference is not easy, but you can achieve this.

An effective point of difference must have three characteristics:

  • It must provide valuable to your clients
  • It must be credible and also provable
  • It must be real and be embedded into everything you do

Each of these three things requires a lot of work. It can be complicated but not unachievable, the best way to approach this is to work through it, as part of your business strategy and planning process.

A key component in getting this right is to really understand your clients and recognise that they are the ones that define the value in your products and your services.

A simple and powerful idea yet one that is most often forgotten.

Retention – is it us or is it them?

Retention  – is it us or is it them?

Following on from my last post, I wanted to take a look at the other side of recruitment, a key to longevity.  Retention.  It’s costly in a business to have a revolving door of people, not just in terms of your recruitment activity but also in development and training.  There are clear signs that indicate if your business will suffer retention loss. Learn these and you will save valuable hours and costs.

Business owners will often say, “If I can get a good couple of years out of a person then I will be happy.”  That’s a short term view, in my opinion.  It’s in line with yet another one of those urban myths that people inside the real estate industry quickly burnout.   In some cases that might be true, but if you looked at the relevant business more closely, I believe you’d find triggers including bad culture, a lack of clear vision, reactive processes and a lack of leadership.

Let’s think about something. If we interviewed the best and the longest serving people in any business across the industry, I believe we would hear a consistent and strong message  – “the leader supports me and that’s why I stay and why I love my job”.

In our industry it’s common to hear people say “this is such a hard job”.  Well, I’m going out on a limb here and stating that I believe sometimes people make the job harder on themselves.  A business that is reactive, where workflow processes are not structured and streamlined, will always be chaotic.  

It’s proven that when things are missed and jobs are not done properly, the frustration felt by the clients and customers is immense. It just simply becomes all too much.  This sentiment can creep further into the business ethos to the point where, every day, your employee is faced with angry and frustrated clients.  It becomes enough to drive them from the business and the industry.  If we are honest, who would blame them?  The key to avoid burnout is to look for the real cause and not just blame the role or the industry.

If burnout happens in your business, you have to ask yourself a question. Was this a fault of their own doing, or is something missing inside my business?  Sure, there are things outside our control in any business and of course a crisis will interrupt any team’s day, but in a well organised and structured business with strong leadership and the right people, insurmountable becomes a challenge that’s solvable and satisfying.  

Retaining good people and watching them grown inside a business is probably the most satisfying part of being a leader.  I’ve often been asked what my role is as a leader. My answer is to make the people who work with me even greater leaders.

During my career I’ve been fortunate to have some of the best leaders in the industry. It’s through their guidance that I’ve been fortunate to have taken on some really challenging and high profile roles.  For any leader, though, it’s important never to forget where we started.