Thoughts on Leadership: A Winning Culture

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Atlanta to meet with the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties team and next in Minneapolis for a HomeServices of America, Inc. monthly board meeting. As I traveled from the East to the Midwest, there was one idea on my mind and it’s been center stage at almost every brokerage I’ve visited so far this year: culture.

Extensive articles, studies, books have all been written about this very subject, and the proliferation of literature on the topic speaks to how important it is for the success of a company. Organizations may have the latest technology, the greatest talent, the hardest-working employees but if they don’t have a positive culture, what do they really have? Culture is a sustainable competitive advantage and it’s also a byproduct of strong, inspiring leadership.

At Georgia Properties,  the leadership team—with the servient leader, CEO Dan Forsman, at the helm—has fostered a culture that is enthusiastic, energetic and esoteric; theirs is a culture not often experienced at a real estate company. When I delivered my keynote on the “7 Principles of Success” to the team, they not only fully absorbed what I had to say but also asked engaging questions that told me these Georgia Properties agents would immediately put this advice to good use in their businesses.

Culture also translates into profitable success for Georgia Properties; the company has increased its share of the luxury market by 43% year over year and is dominating the new-home market in Georgia. Additionally, they’re focused on cultivating young leaders within the brokerage to ensure a bright future for this vibrant company. All team members at Georgia Properties genuinely love what they do, an important key to success, and they also love who they do it with.

I’d even go so far as to say that Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network brokerages feature some of the most dynamic cultures of any in our entire industry. And on this note, Entrepreneur magazine happens to agree; the publication recently ranked Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate as 12th in the large company category of their Top Company Cultures list for 2017. This list, a comprehensive study of U.S.-based businesses exhibiting high-performance cultures, recognized Ambassador Real Estate for creating an exceptional culture that drives employee engagement, exceeds expectation and directly impacts company success.

“In my mind great company cultures are created top down so it’s absolutely essential if you want a great culture to have your leaders on the same page,” Vince Leisey, president at Ambassador Real Estate, told me when I asked his opinion on the relationship between effective company culture and leadership. Leisey was honored by Entrepreneur’s distinction and said there was an overwhelming sense of pride felt by his entire organization after learning about the news. “We feel like we’ve accomplished this together,” he said. “Because culture happens when you create an environment where every single person actually wants to come to work and where each member of the team contributes to the energy, enthusiasm and excitement experienced by all.”

What’s the message? Culture is there whether a leader creates it or not—it’s an ever-present function of every organization no matter what—so in order to have a culture that works in a company’s favor, every leader must be proactive in generating and instilling the kind of meaningful culture that will inspire lasting success.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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