REAL Trends has collected research on CEOs for the past 30 years. Here are some insights into what makes a great leader.

by Steve Murray, publisher

 Through our reporting and consulting practice (and our 360 total newsletters), we’ve had the incredible honor of interacting with the leaders of many different brokerage firms—different models, brands and sizes. We’ve tracked the performance of thousands of brokerage firms over the past 30 years.

Here’s a summary of what we’ve observed about the best residential brokerage firm CEOs.

They care about what they do tremendously. The best CEOs care about their business and people, and they communicate it numerous ways. This is not just about being emotionally connected to their business and people, but it helps. It means that they care to do the best they can to protect and preserve their cultures, and they reinforce the behaviors that reflect who they are and how they want the company to be viewed. They work extremely hard and are compassionate.

They are decisive. The best CEOs know that they must make decisions, large and small, every day (including weekends). They almost never have all the information they will need within the timeframe in which they must decide. But, they don’t shy away from making them. Rarely do these great CEOs doubt their decisions. They know some will work out the way they want and some don’t. Often, they use gut feelings to guide them every bit as much as data.

They care more about their people than they do making money. This is also what our 2006 study, “People Still Matter,” found. The great majority of the 169 personal interviews we did with agents of 16 firms said this was evident in the behaviors and communications of the leader. We see it every day in our consulting work. They like profit as well as any other business leader, but they behave in ways that let their companies know that are prepared to sacrifice some profit to improve the company’s services to its agents.

While their personalities are very different; they all have high ethical standards. The best leaders run the gamut of personality types. Some are gregarious. Others don’t talk much at all. Some are brilliant strategists; others just win because they will outwork their competitors. They are just different than each other. But, they all share one important attribute—high levels of integrity. They believe in fairness, honesty and being direct. They don’t seek shortcuts and rarely will they be found to have treated those with whom they do business with anything less than respect.

They are competitive. Regardless of their personality type or style and brokerage size, the men and women who lead great brokerage firms are very highly competitive. They want to achieve their goals whether it is increased market share, size or productivity. They want to succeed, and they employ all talents in the attempt to achieve their goals. Saying to them that something can’t be done is like waving the red flag at the bull.

It could be that financial or technological acumen will be far more important tomorrow than it has been in the past. Certainly, these great CEOs also know how to read an income statement and balance sheet. But, when you’ve had the chance to observe them as we have, you find that their curiosity doesn’t turn first to these areas, but more towards how they can recruit better, develop better management skills or increase the professionalism of their people. We believe that regardless of what challenges appear in the future, it’s the traits we list above that will matter most.