JUNE 2020 GLOBEST. REAL ESTATE FORUM
This is not an attribute that you can fake,
An exceptional leader has a robust storeof emotional intelligence and thus they arefurther able to connect with those thatwork for them, he says.
Balancing this empathy in the middle ofa deep recession that is increasingly beinglikened to the Great Depression requiresskill. A leader has to both serve the bestinterests of those that work for them, whileat the same time ensure that the companycan thrive through the crisis, Bozzuto continues. “It’s a tough balance” because sometimes those two goals do not always intersect. “Even when tough decisions need tobe made, you have to be mindful of howyou treat your employees.”
THE POWER OF ‘I DON’T KNOW’
It may seem counterintuitive as leaders are typically portrayed assure and steadfast, but great leaders are not afraid to say ‘I don’tknow,’ according to Steeb. Consider the alternative: it can crushyour credibility in the long run if you routinely act as though youhave all the answers when you don’t.
However, ‘I don’t know’ comes with a caveat. The statementmust be followed by a ‘but.’ “What you want to say is ‘I don’t know,but I can find out,’” Steeb says. Good leaders have a network ofin-house professionals or industry people that they can turn to foranswers. Such connections are particularly invaluable right nowwhen real-time information is the currency of the realm.
“Something may be correct today, but becomes incorrecttomorrow because the markets changed,” Steeb says.
Furthermore, do not underestimate the power of giving anopinion while acknowledging your uncertainty. “I’ve come tolearn—even if you’re wrong, clients want to know your opinion,”Renshaw says. “They would rather you make a bet and tell themthe truth, than not tell them anything.”
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH EXPERTS
It may be a cliche but effective leaders surround themselves with
people who are smarter than they are, says Bozzuto—and just as
importantly are receptive to their ideas and willing to listen to
what they have to say, even if it doesn’t necessarily meet your
own views. “Listen to them and let them be the ones to propa-
gate new ideas. And then you can learn about these ideas more
in depth, if you want to pursue them.”
It is equally as important to surround yourself with experi-
enced veterans—especially now.
Bozzuto counts himself lucky to have his father to turn to for
advice. Having launched the firm more than 32 years ago,
Thomas Bozzuto is the chairman and co-founder of the firm. “He
has seen two or three or four crises of different sorts,” says his son,
“and I’m able to draw on his wisdom and ask, ‘What did you do in
this, how did you think about this, how did you do this.’”
Partnering with senior professionals, even for mundane deci-
sions, is a useful practice to employ, says Renshaw. Such advice is
exceptionally invaluable now. “For many in the industry, this is
the first market cycle they have seen,” she
says, pointing out that even for those with
11 years under their belt, which is more
than a decade of a career, nothing like
this has happened.
Although no one in the past 100 yearshas experienced a pandemic that went onto upend a global economy, professionalsare still able to extrapolate pieces and information from past crises and events, she says.
This is not to say that younger staffershave less to contribute. On the contrary,
this cohort has an integral role to play during a crisis as well. The supposition thatonly executive leadership can generateideas and execute decision-making withina top-down structure is old school, Bozzutosays. There have been many changes inthe commercial real estate industry withinthe past decade, including an influx ofyounger people interested in CRE as a career choice.
These professionals have an enormous amount of insight andingenuity to bring to the table, he says.
The unique skill for leaders is learning how to accept advicefrom younger generations, Steeb says.
“I think one of the hardest things that we all struggle with is to
not be afraid of change and adopting new ideas and concepts,
and to be a great leader, you have to do that. Sometimes that
means, yes, you have to really listen to that 22-year-old that just
came out of school, because they have great technology concepts
and ideas that we didn’t even think of.”
“You have to be open to very different advice, and be able to
listen to that, but you also have to, long before you get to this
crisis, have attracted those people,” Renshaw adds. “I think diver-
sity of all types—we do tend to talk about male/female, but I am
including age diversity—is important to problem solving.”
We need to have differing opinions, we need to have various
temperaments, we need to have an array of experiences, sitting
around the table, she says. “This makes you better prepared, but
it also helps you go faster and be more responsive, and that’s cru-
cial” right now.
AUTHENTICITY AND PASSION
These traits are also essential to outstanding leadership.
“The underlying theme for being a successful leader in any
industry, but especially in commercial real estate is you have to
have a passion for what you do, because if you don’t have a pas-
sion for it, it’s very hard to put everything in perspective,” says
Steeb. “Because when times become challenging, as they are right
now, it’s very easy to say, ‘forget this, I’m just not going to do this’,
if you don’t have a passion for your work.”
Authenticity goes hand in hand with passion, adds Bozzuto.
“It’s important for leaders to really believe in something, stand
for it, be unrelenting in their beliefs—in the sense that if it’s a
mission for a company or an ethos for an organization that they
continue to drive it. And then hopefully, those people that choose
to work with that person, have a similar value set.” Of course, a
great leader will ensure that they do. ◆
“THE WORST THING
YOU CAN DO IS
NOT HAVE A CLEAR
OF WHAT IT IS
YOU’RE TRYING TO
ACHIEVE WITH THE
PEOPLE WITHIN YOUR
President and Founder of