Mia Hamm: Here's How to Lead a Team

August 11, 2015

Everyone knows about Mia Hamm's road to greatness. Widely considered the best female soccer player in history, she has been recognized as the driving force behind the success of the U.S. women's soccer team, leading it to two Women's World Cup championships, garnering two Olympic gold medals, and once setting the record for most international goals during her 17-year career (1987-2004).

But leaders in the real estate world should hear how Hamm attributes her and her team's groundbreaking success. She says the team's victories didn't come on account of her teammates falling in line behind her, the star athlete. They had a coach who helped everyone realize the value they each brought to the team, and that made everyone work harder toward a common goal.

Being a leader often requires playing more of a supportive role, Hamm told state and local association executives who attended the National Association of REALTORS® Leadership Summit in Chicago on Monday. A leader doesn't just create orders, she said. They remind people exactly why they're so important to the team.

"On successful teams, everyone understands what their role is and what their value is, and that doesn't mean that can’t change," Hamm said. "But if you tell someone, 'I see your value in this way every day we're in the field,' you'll be amazed at how that impacts productivity."

She recalled how her coach steered her team toward positive thinking when the pressure was on to perform well. The first time the team’s PR representative informed them that a game was sold out, it was the coach who rallied everyone together and instilled confidence in their abilities.

"If I thought about the millions of people watching, I would be immobilized with fear," Hamm said. "I thought, 'Oh god, we really can't lose now, guys.' But our coach really made us feel like we were capable of anything.

"Look at a leadership position as a wonderful way to make your company and your time better," she advised REALTORS®. "Instead of thinking about what could go wrong, think about what will go right. Joy and excitement is such a positive motivator for your group."

Hamm also implored leaders to hold themselves and their team members to a consistent level of excellence every day. "A lot of people say they want to be the best, and a lot of times they mean it for just one day or one month," she said. "Even when the results aren't guaranteed, you have to know that doing your best consistently is going to make all the difference. You may not receive the rewards that day, but know that they will come down the line."

Later in the session, Hamm took some time to talk sports. In case you're wondering, if she had to wager who would win between her team and today's U.S. women's national soccer team — which won the Women's World Cup this year — she's betting on her team.

—By Graham Wood, REALTOR® Magazine