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What is the secret of leadership? If you ask a hundred different people, you’ll probably get 100 different answers. Some say it’s the ability to simplify complexity. Others say it’s intellectual curiosity. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in their leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.”

Which one of these is true? Of course, the answer is all of the above, and lots more. Leadership comes in different forms. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a Fortune 500 corporation or a team of 3—the role you play as a leader is equally important to those you lead. The most obvious form of leadership comes with a title, whether it’s CEO, Principal, or General. But there are millions of leaders doing the hard work of leadership every single day. You’ll find them on the baseball fields coaching kids, or organizing a fundraiser for the local PTA. And the same characteristics of leadership apply—the ability to inspire people to do their best, to overcome adversity, and get results.

Today on What Moves Her®, we’re going to look at some inspirational female leaders, and how they view the work, and their advice for the rest of us. We’ll also hear from some leaders at Realogy about the qualities that make a good leader, what they wish they knew earlier, and the unique challenges of leading in the real estate industry.

A good leader inspires people to have confidence in their leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Leaders. Are they Born or Made?

An age-old question is whether leaders born or made. And believe it or not, some research actually came up with a quantifiable answer: Leadership is about one-third born, and two-thirds made. Which is comforting news for those of us who tend to get nervous when giving a speech, or making a presentation. But it also begs the question: what qualities go into making an effective leader?

Googling the phrase “What makes an effective leader” yields an overwhelming 431,000,000 results, and Amazon has over 10,000 titles on leadership in management. Which proves it’s a relevant topic of discussion, and has been so for a long time. And even if you don’t have any of the “one-third” qualities that natural leaders have, you can learn from the people who have successfully lead organizations and people, and learn their secrets. Because you can build the qualities needed for leadership at any stage of your career. You’re never too young, or too old to lead.

Leadership Is a Mindset

The influential entrepreneurship academy Girls with Impact recently interviewed Gunjan Kedia, the Vice Chairman of Wealth Management & Investment Services at U.S. Bank about the meaning of leadership, and the characteristics that define leaders. Her view can be summed up by this empowering phrase:

“Leadership is a mindset, not a title.”

She believes that leaders can be defined by the following characteristics:

  • Curiosity. “Leaders are full of wisdom not because it is already locked into their brains, but because they are constantly learning. Knowledge is not defined by how much wisdom you currently have, but by how much wisdom you are seeking.”
  • An open mind. “A leader spends time purposely seeking out differing opinions and listening to them with an open mind.”
  • Constantly working for others. “The best leaders bring out the best in others. Let me hear what you have to say and help you make your dreams come true.”
  • “The only way to truly work for others is to first understand their struggles.”
  • Grit and stamina. “If you are going to run your own company, or climb the ladder to the top, it will take years of constant overachieving.”

How to be a More Inclusive Leader

Create and Cultivate, the popular online community for women in business, refers to inclusive leadership as giving your people a seat at the table. It empowers the team you’re leading, and shows you have the confidence and security to successfully lead. In their words, inclusive leaders are the “foundation upon which great company cultures are built. When people feel they are included and belong, they are able to be the best version of themselves at work and are able to contribute all of their ideas freely and openly. They are able to make a significant impact for the company and themselves.”

Create and Cultivate also provides some action steps you can take to make yourself a more inclusive leader:

  • Allow the space for all voices to be heard. Invite everyone to speak and contribute, even if they have an opposing viewpoint.
  • Give individuals credit for work. If they did all the hard work, why shouldn’t they get to present and get credit for their work?
  • Pitch in with office work. Being an inclusive leader means sharing the burden.

How real estate brokers can become effective leaders

Our industry is unique. Real estate agents—and everyone else in the industry—are not like the typical 9-5 office worker. They’re independent-minded, entrepreneurial, and self-driven. In order for real estate brokers to successfully lead their agents, they need to keep that in mind. Here’s a trick: since many successful brokers started out as agents first (or are still at it), think about the type of manager you wished you had. Then become that person!

Here are some more tips for brokers, courtesy of Realtor Magazine:

  • Lead by doing. Great leaders set the tone for the team or brokerage. They model the expectations, goals, actions, behaviors and communications needed for success.
  • Open office hours for agents. This sends the message that you are here to help them maximize their potential.
  • Foster an environment of continuous learning. We all know this business is always changing and evolving. Sponsor learning opportunities for your team. Realogy brands offer a wide array of continuing educational opportunities for our brokerages, take advantage of them.
  • Communicate clearly. Make sure you stay consistent with your messaging and be supportive. Try to always find a way to say Yes.
  • Transparency, transparency, transparency. Hold everyone accountable, but at the same time, celebrate everyone’s victories. Scoreboards that highlight everyone’s goals are a great way to start.
  • Challenge your agents. Remember the independent mindset of the real estate agent also means they can get bored easily. Don’t let that happen! Figure out what your team members need to stay motivated, and put them in a position to continue growing as professionals.

Seven Things You Can Do Right Now to Become a Better Leader

By definition, leaders need to look at the big picture of an organization. That’s what a leader does. Their job is to steer the ship. But all that focus on the talk from the “30,000-foot level” can lack specifics and detail, especially in leadership literature and blogs. Courtesy of NAR, here are seven secrets broker/owners need to know in order to become better leaders right now. Please note: these tactics are also helpful for agents, support teams, as well as everyone in the industry.

  1. Have a healthy morning routine. Success starts as soon as you wake up. Wake up early every day, make your bed, and have a healthy breakfast. It makes a big difference.
  2. Exercise regularly. The benefits are obvious. Can’t exercise? Try striking a power pose. “Research shows that workers are 33% more productive when they power pose.” In one case, a team started integrating the power pose in team meetings and after a month, sales shot up by 30%!
  3. Review your day and maintain a journal.
  4. Meditate or visualize your day. What would a successful day look like? Work towards that.
  5. Finish the most important or difficult task first. Also known as the MIT (Most Important Task) theory. Google it, and you’ll be impressed by the results it gets for people.
  6. Outline your next day. As a kid, you can take things as they come. As a leader, you need to plan ahead.
  7. Learn or read something inspirational. Leaders are never finished learning.

Leadership Lessons and Advice from Realogy Leaders

We recently spoke to two of Realogy’s Senior Leaders: Stephanie Anton, Senior Vice President, Corcoran Affiliates, Managing Director, Global Service, Realogy, and Kacie Ricker, Senior Vice President, Realogy Product about advice they wish they heard earlier, tips for emerging leaders, the unique challenges of managing people in real estate, and more.

Stephanie Anton, Senior Vice President, Corcoran Affiliates, Managing Director, Global Service, Realogy

Valuable Advice

Q: What is something you wish someone had told you early in your career journey?

Never say no to any opportunity because it scares you or you think you aren’t good enough. Taking chances is how you learn and grow. I heard someone say recently that “growth begins when comfort ends”…and I wish someone had told me that years ago.

Q: What memorable lessons have you learned from your mentors, and how do you pass those on to those you work with?

I’m a big believer in embracing the challenger. I’ve always been encouraged by my mentors to not be afraid to question. To ask why? Or, is there a better way of doing this? I try to foster an environment where my team knows they can always question and challenge too. Nothing is worse, in my opinion, than to be surrounded by a bunch of “yes” people. You never know where good ideas can come from. I know more often than not, it’s not me!

“Taking chances is how you learn and grow.” – Stephanie Anton, Senior Vice President, Corcoran Affiliates, Managing Director, Global Service, Realogy

Leadership styles

Q: Are there any specific ways you’ve had to pivot your leadership style while working remotely?

I’ve managed a team remotely before, but the big change with the Pandemic was not meeting anyone in person when I started (it was four months before we met in person). That made it even more important that I take time for the more personal side of life. I intentionally try to not be 100% about work all the time. It’s important to add fun events like happy hours. Also, our team uses Slack a lot which is a great way to have fun. It’s a more casual, informal platform, great for sharing pics, articles, jokes, and crazy things we see. I’ve found it to be a nice break from email.

Q: Which leadership qualities do you consider most valuable? Which qualities are you continuing to work on?

I think empathy and authenticity are invaluable. I know I am most inspired by leaders who are comfortable in their own skin, not afraid to tell it like it is, and don’t try to hide themselves behind a persona. But this is where empathy is so critical. If you are overly authentic (read: direct), without empathy, you can potentially be damaging and impact your ability to inspire loyalty. Pam Liebman and Sue Yannaccone, the two women I work directly for, both embody the qualities I have just described and are personally great role models for me. I’d put humility and honesty up there pretty high too!

Leadership in Real Estate

Q:  What have you found unique about what it means to lead in real estate?

Real estate is an amazing business because it attracts so many different kinds of personalities. It’s quite different than working in finance, or consulting or engineering for example. I’ve found that to be a successful leader in real estate you really have to be patient and exceptionally flexible.

Q: What resources would you suggest for new leaders?

I’m a huge fan of podcasts, and I personally feel successful leaders not only understand our business but are intellectually curious about other businesses. This is especially true for real estate as brokers and agents are all fundamentally entrepreneurs. My favorite business podcast is Guy Raz’s How I Built This. It offers amazing insight into successful entrepreneurs and the decisions they made, for better or worse, along the way. Highly, highly recommend.


Kacie Ricker, Senior Vice President, Realogy Product

Valuable Advice

Q: What is something you wish someone had told you earlier in your career journey?

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy the journey.” You don’t have to be in a rush to conquer the world. You’re not going to get every promotion. You don’t have to set arbitrary goals like, “I’m going to be the youngest director in the company.” I made a lot of mistakes like that as I was young and ambitious, but as I look back at my career, I’m very thankful for the time I spent learning the basics. My advice to new employees or those just starting out? Be curious. Be open. Ask lots of questions. Learn along the way. Do your homework and pay your dues now while you are young as it will pay off in spades down the road when you really understand how the pieces fit together.

Q: What memorable lessons have you learned from your mentors, and how do you pass those on to those you work with? 

My most important mentor in my life has been my mom. She was a top female leader in the medical field for many years, running two hospitals here in the Bay Area. One of her best pieces of advice to me—and one that I’ve passed on to my daughters—is “Put your head down, work hard and good things will come.”  Whenever I would get discouraged, distracted, or feeling overwhelmed, she’d always bring me back around to those important words. Every single time I began to worry about the other stuff, I’ve always found solace in just putting my head down, doing good work and weeding out the noise. When you do that, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish and the impact you can make on the organization.

Leadership styles

Q: Are there any specific ways you’ve had to pivot your leadership style while working remotely? 

Being a newly merged team (Realogy Product and The Product Studio), one thing that has been more challenging is creating trust and relationships amongst team members who have never had the opportunity to work together in an in-person setting. Trust of our colleagues is so important in our world. One of the more recent things we’ve done to build relationships within our newly combined team is to create what we call the Culture Club. It’s made up of about five team members and they plan monthly events for us. Our first one was in September where we had a virtual scavenger hunt. I can honestly say that I haven’t laughed that hard in so long. For a good hour after the scavenger hunt, my face hurt from smiling so much. It was hilarious. In October, we did a costume contest and we had fun drawing monster masterpieces as a team. Silly stuff but it gives us a break in our day to just enjoy each other, laugh and not think about the next pressing Teams meeting or deadline.

Q:  Which leadership qualities do you consider most valuable? 

One of our partners recently described me as, “Tough but fair.” I think that is a pretty honest assessment of my leadership style. I try to make decisions based on doing what is right for our agents and brokers. I work hard to be a good communicator, and to provide a strategic framework, while at the same time leaving room for our team to thrive using their collective genius.  It’s also important to me lead by example, and create a fun place to work.

“Put your head down, work hard and good things will come.” – Kacie Ricker, Senior Vice President, Realogy Product

Leadership in Real Estate

Q: What have you found unique about what it means to lead in real estate? 

The importance of balancing data with anecdote. Because we are such an emotionally driven industry, we have to leverage data to paint the picture. But our industry can too often be driven by the shiny penny, the quest for the silver bullet and I think in the moments we’ve shined most, it’s because we balanced anecdote (we have to LISTEN) with data to build better experiences for our agents, brokers and customers. It’s easy to listen to the loudest voice in the room. It’s hardest to balance that anecdote with data and provide a fair assessment that benefits most.

Q: What resources would you suggest for new leaders? 

It would begin with having a great mentor. A mentor doesn’t have to be someone who has the title of mentor – it can be your mom, sister, brother, aunt, etc. – just someone who provides advice that you appreciate and respect. I will tell you that some of my best mentors have been people who know nothing about real estate or my work. They are just a really good listening ear who can provide very unbiased advice.

I also have found a few great courses on LinkedIn Learning that have helped me, too. Beyond that – I think the best thing that new leaders can do for themselves is to get real time feedback from their teams. I’ve found that hearing that type of feedback, really listening and adjusting and being open to the team makes a world of difference. Sometimes new leaders are so nervous and feel that offering that up is a sign of weakness when in actuality it is a sign that you care, you want to do better and you believe in supporting your team. And what better gift can you give your team than that type of commitment and caring for their success.


Now it’s your turn

What is the one bit of #CareerAdvice you wish you learned earlier? If you’re a manager, how have you changed your leadership style during the pandemic? If you’re an agent, what qualities do you look for in a leader?

Let us know. Email us at or share with us on Facebook or LinkedIn – we want to hear your thoughts.