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Defining the Path to Leadership

Recently, I was asked to write a commentary about my journey to becoming the President and CEO of Realogy Franchise Group for RIS Media’s Real Estate magazine in its July issue. As I began writing, I realized that the story to tell was about the root of my journey – what gives me the tools to grow as a leader – and that’s always been teamwork. Now that I am in this role, it’s more important to me than ever to share these learnings with my #WhatMovesHer community. The support of a team allows you to realize goals bigger than what you had ever imagined.

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The path to leadership is never the same; and it is rarely straight. Some start out with their eye on the prize, growing up knowing they want to be a “CEO”.  Not me.  It wasn’t something I ever thought I would be.  A hard worker, absolutely.  Someone with drive to accomplish a goal, sure. But a leader? A CEO leading the world’s largest real estate franchise organization?  Not a chance.

When I started out, I never bothered to look too far ahead. I focused on the task at hand and the role I was given. I was fueled by an intense fear of failure coupled with a competitive drive to “show up” for those who entrusted me with a job to do.  I felt compelled to not let my leadership or my team down. I was comfortable saying yes to all opportunities, taking risks and figuring it out as I went.

With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that I was unknowingly defining my path to leadership the entire time through the fearless way in which I approached challenges, the can-do attitude with which I accepted opportunities and the unwavering desire to grow, learn and succeed.

These combined qualities empowered me to leave an early role as a commercial real estate agent that I wasn’t passionate about to take a corporate role where I was introduced to the world of real estate franchising.  From there, I held numerous roles in contract administration, help desk, onboarding, learning and one of my all-time faves, affiliate servicing.  Through these positions I found my passion: to help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams, ensure that the promise we are making as a brand is delivered upon and never, ever lose sight of our customers along the way. I learned that the franchisee – franchisor relationship is so much more than a contract; It is a commitment to teamwork, ensuring one is better off with us than without us.

To me, that same commitment is the true path to leadership as well: teamwork. It is a devotion to those you serve, a promise that allows a team to grow with you and be lifted by you, and a vow that you will never lose sight of their goals.

As I grew in the world of leadership, I learned to trust in those who showed up where I couldn’t. I learned that a team can take us much further than any one person ever could on their own. I learned to ensure that I am creating paths for others, making room for the next generation to find their way, and extending a hand to help others achieve their dreams. And, as I continue to learn, the value lies in the journey, not the destination.

 

Sue Yannaccone
President and Chief Executive Officer
Realogy Franchise Group

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