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A Team of Dependency or Liberty?

Is your real estate team creating dependency or liberty?

Which of these statements most accurately represents your real estate team?:
  • “Our team exists to allow you the ability to focus on what you do best, customer service. Join our team!”
  • “Our team exists to accelerate your growth and to provide exponential opportunity for talented team members.”

Teams and groups are nothing new to real estate at this point, but they are still a relatively recent occurrence in the history of the industry. We are still in the first generation of team building in many ways.

As teams grow into larger groups and as those groups look to expand, two distinct models are emerging: A model that creates dependency in its agents and another that creates interdependency and exponential opportunity for its team members.

The first, more dependent type is extraordinarily common. There are two major reasons for this.

  1. Leads: It is easier to find lots of agents who want leads handed to them than it is to find agents who are excited about learning how to hunt for leads.
  2. Scarcity mindset: In the mindset of the owner of such a group, if I teach you how to fish, you will leave me. With such a belief in place, ownership is incentivized to spend on leads as their value proposition. By purposefully limiting the agent, they ultimately limit freedom for the agent.

Talented agents in these structures often comment that they would love to go out on their own or join a non-dependent model, but that they are afraid that they would not be able to support themselves since they don’t have experience with lead generation.

With enough money, a team or group can simply buy the fidelity of its agents. But how faithful are these agents, really? These teams have taken their models from dependency model brokerages, which have been in existence for years. Their mantra: “If you want to succeed, you’ll need our name in this town.” or “ We have a relocation department that will provide leads for you.” or more recently “We spend money on (or have) technology that will source leads for you online.”

Here’s the problem with these models: they destroy the spirit of the agent. I have not found a new agent who gets into the business with the great ideal of less freedom. They want more. They are enterprising, eager to build a strong real estate business. They need the tools to do this.

Most dependency owners quip that agents who can actually do it on their own are few and far between and that their model provides for those who are not the builders.

I believe that people rise to the expectations you set for them and that eventually the expectations that they set for themselves.

The second model, though more rare, shifts the investment from lead generation machines to talented agents who want to grow faster than they could as a single agent. This model of team necessitates that team members are they type that would be successful with or without the team. The team or group understands that in order to have success, the entire team needs to be working toward the same goal, at the same pace, with the same vision for personal and professional growth. The only dependency here is like the dependency found on a crew team. Everyone has the weight of responsibility and when one member is the wrong fit, the boat goes off course and cannot win. When the team is unified, there is no limit to their speed.

These are flatter organizations. There is some rank, but little hierarchy. They function more like seal teams than bureaucracies.  They require real, humble leadership which is willing and excited to be surrounded by smarter people, to invest in these talented people’s growth constantly and expects greatness as a result. They are leaders whose vision is to grow through great people instead of on top of them.

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