Thoughts on Leadership: Coming Full Circle

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Indiana for the Mavericks meeting hosted by Craig West, CEO/co-owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Realty. (If you don’t know what the Mavericks are, you can read about the Mavericks here but in short, it’s a small think-tank group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network member CEOs who meet every six months to perform a peer review of the host company, exchange ideas and help fellow members grow.) I always enjoy these meetings because they’re founded in a strong spirit of innovation and collaboration.

During our meeting, we toured a few Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Realty offices and one of them was in Carmel, the fifth-largest city in Indiana known internationally for its roundabouts. Since the late 1990s, Carmel has been building and replacing signalized intersections with roundabouts and now boasts about 100, more than any other city in the U.S.

The Mavericks Meeting, hosted by Craig West, CEO/co-owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Realty.

According to the official Carmel government website, Carmel builds roundabouts because of their underlying safety, their environmentally friendly nature and their ability to make it easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate. In places where the city has replaced traffic signals with roundabouts, the number of accidents has been reduced by 80% and the number of accidents overall by about 40%. They’re also more cost effective; roundabouts are priced at about $125K less to construct than intersections with traffic lights. Further, it’s been documented that roundabouts reduce air pollution by as much as 20% to 30%, and can be directly attributable to declines in gasoline consumption.

Now, I mentioned earlier the serendipitous nature of finding myself in the city with the highest density of roundabouts in the entire country during a meeting that was all about getting to the point and helping brokerages increase profitability through collaboration. How do the two things relate? Well, if you think about it, roundabouts function on collaboration. You enter the roundabout and wait for cars to exit. You move in tandem with the other vehicles as you turn. You exit safely after waiting for cars on the main road to pass. It’s a completely collaborative process and it’s this collaboration that leads to safer roadways.

So, what’s the message? In its strict definition, collaboration is a management practice focused on the leadership skills across functional and organizational boundaries. Without collaboration, there is no innovation. Just like Carmel’s roundabouts, without collaboration, there is no forward movement. No one gets to where they need to go. It’s only when you work together that you not only reach your goal (or in the case of the roundabout, your ultimate destination) but also do so in a way that’s even better, more organized and more efficient than you could’ve done on your own.

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