Be a Leader, Not a Dictator

Learn how to collaborate with your team and involve agents in coming up with their own solutions.

December 8, 2014

The only thing worse than a broker who is unwilling to lead is one who dictates. The best brokers—those with reputations as miracle workers who lead team members to accomplish more than they thought possible—are collaborators. You will not earn this reputation (and its corresponding success) without being able to give advice, challenge perceptions, and collaborate along the way.

You’ve heard the story: If you put a frog into a pot of hot water, it will leap out immediately. But if you put it into cold water and dial the temperature up, it will stay until the bath becomes its grave. The same is true of agents who’ve established patterns over the years, not realizing that those habits are limiting their success. Thankfully, what is practically invisible to them is obvious to you. It’s not that you are any better than they are; you just have the objective perspective. Even the best surgeon can’t operate on herself.

Despite your experience and objectivity, sometimes they’ll think they know better. You can’t be afraid to say, “You are a great agent. There’s just one piece of feedback that will take you to the next level.” Be ready to role-play with them and sharpen their processes. Recommend training you’ve seen work for others. You are in a position to lead them to a greater level than they thought possible. If they push back, be ready to stand on what you know. Have the courage to tell them what they need to hear, and remember that it’s better for them in the long run (even if they’re irritated in the short term).

But this requires a fine balance; if you force compromise without including collaboration, you’ll end up coming across as a dictator. This is no way to build a business. You must involve agents in coming up with their own solutions. Ask questions and sincerely listen to their responses. You may know something’s not going to work, but instead of saying, “No, that isn’t the right direction for you” (which puts them on the defense), you must allow them to be a part of the decision. Become partners in the solution by providing a choice. This allows you to identify the right destination and lead them toward it.

Collaboration builds loyalty and allows agents to feel proud of their direction. By presenting advice confidently, facilitating compromise, and collaborating, you will be able to build a strong, healthy team. And when the frog jumps out of the pot, everyone wins.

Jason Forrest is a sales trainer, management coach, member of the National Speakers Association’s Million Dollar Speakers Group, and author of three books, including his latest, Leadership Sales Coaching. Learn more at