“Take the time to listen. It’s easy to get caught up in
selling yourself, your platform or services, but the very
basic idea of ‘zipping it’ and listening to the client or
employee allows us to understand their needs or goals.”
As CEO of Voit Real Estate Services since 2015, Eric Hinkelman oversees
the Irvine, CA-based company’s operations in partnership with the
COO and his management team. That’s a short-form description of
what Hinkelman does; it’s how he goes about doing it that sets him
apart from CRE company heads. “He’s a fun, charismatic, compassion-
ate, dedicated leader,” says D’Anna Watson, Voit’s HR director. “He’s
easy to talk to, thoughtful in his approach and compassionate. He
knows how to balance what’s best for the company with what’s best for
the employee. He’s never hasty but he’s definite in what he wants, and
he is always asking for feedback so decisions are not made in a vacuum.”
Watson’s observations are typical of the comments made by others on
the Voit team. “You won’t find a more approachable, competent and
considerate boss anywhere,” says one member. “If you need a moment,
he’s always there to listen and treats you with the utmost respect.
Embracing the negative is not his forte; he is a positive and ever-present
source of leadership.” Hinkelman accentuates his sense of humor, and
is more than happy to be the office funny man. That means being able
to take a joke as well as tell one, and it’s all part of his practice of leading
by example. “His ego is checked at the door every day.”
In addition to treating team members as his peers, Hinkelman takes
every opportunity to connect with his employees and brokers, attending
every staff and sales meeting in the Orange County offices and regularly
making it out to all other Voit offices. “It’s one thing to be a great CEO;
it is another to find a company that meshes well with that person’s man-
agement style,” says a manager and 20-year Voit employee.
In the view of Heidi Hendy, there’s nothing better for a company than a strong headwind.
Of course, it helps if that headwind is met by an equally strong leader. The employees of H.
Hendy Associates describe the interior architecture and planning firm’s co-founder and
managing director as a “crisis warrior,” driven forward by a combination of business acumen
and steely resolve. Since its launch in 1979, the Newport Beach, CA-based firm has seen
both successes—underpinning its status as one of Interior Design Magazine’s Top 200
Architecture Firms for 26 consecutive years—and economic turbulence.
Several times over the past 38 years, Hendy’s accountants told her that it was all over, and
each time she powered through the financial trials. When there wasn’t enough client
work, she put her team to work cataloguing knowledge and eliminating redundancies,
helping to ensure the firm would be even more profitable when it came out of the
recession. To get through another downturn, she sold her Corvette to make payroll.
During one of the most severe of those trials, the Great Recession, Hendy made the
decision to share the firm’s financials with the entire staff. She was completely transparent about the dismal situation and, instead of making the decision on her own or with
only senior management, she brought in the entire team to create the best solution.
Collectively, Hendy and her staff decided to cut everyone’s hours to 32 per week, a
move that entailed significant salary cuts and removing the 401(k) program. Because
the decision was a group effort and needed to be done, it was well-received by staff.
While many other firms laid off employees, Hendy held on to her dedicated team.
More recently, the 2013 death of Hendy’s longtime business parner and the public face of the firm’s projects, Kerry Wilson, presented another crisis-borne opportunity. Hendy evaluated each employee’s natural talents and weaknesses, and came up
with individualized plans to turn each team member into a leader. While previously
employees had relied on Wilson to bring in business, Hendy’s plan got all levels of
staff out into the community in full-force, and the company was better for it.
“I’ve been grateful for every
downturn, challenge and
failure thrown my way.
They’ve just made me and
my company even stronger.”