By Gino Blefari
This week I taught in a 4DX virtual training with the Guarantee Real Estate leadership team. On Wednesday and today, I’m virtually hosting the HomeServices of America CEO Leadership Conference.
Specifically, the conference was organized to address COVID-19 from a future-thinking perspective. How will business look in a post-COVID-19 world? What could be transformational about how we approach strategies, execution and successs?
To discuss transformational change, it’s important first to define what the term actually means. Transformational changes are BIG. They do not go unnoticed. They revolutionize mindsets, systems and societies to think differently, act differently and live differently.
We’re experiencing the forces of transformational change right now, first with the global coronavirus pandemic and next, with one of the most major civil rights movements in history. The changes these powerful events create will alter our short and long-term direction forevermore.
Let’s be clear on one thing: Transformational changes are positive drivers of innovation. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, the by-product of the COVID-19 crisis has been a fundamental shift in our entire world, toward greater community, mindfulness, connection and hope. As I also wrote last week, correcting civil injustices (including, systemic housing discrimination) suffered by the Black and other disenfranchised communities will generate a universal adaption toward greater inclusivity and even more support, bringing the opportunity of home ownership to all communities fairly and without bias. Ron Cooper, Past President of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), said: “Homeownership is the number one way for African Americans to build wealth.” While we acknowledge progress since the passage of the Fair Housing Act 52 years ago, homeownership rates have remained relatively stagnant for many communities of color (most notably, the African American community where the overall homeownership rate has decreased). We can, should and will do better.
But to truly make a difference, we must combine our desire for change with commitment and a clear call to action. As an industry, we are uniquely qualified to tangibly contribute to such efforts.
It’s no question we’re all steadily moving in a new and better direction. The question remains: How do leaders execute on navigating transformational change? Natural instincts and leadership abilities alone won’t be enough; we need a solid system of execution to buttress the positive gravitational pull of transformational changes. Of course, by now you should be familiar with the 4DX method of execution and it will certainly create a structure around which you can create, commit and achieve your transformational-change-related goals. However, there’s a nuanced way to utilize this system when such large-scale changes are on the line:
Clarify your vision for the future. Define with your team exactly what you are going to do; your lead measures for execution; the rationale behind your action plan; what the benefits of these actions will be for your organization, your customers and really, the world; and why it’s dangerous not to change. Your vision should be clarified in real terms — no jargon or empty phrases — and approached with vulnerability and openness.
Empower your team to implement the changes. Much like a daily check-in meeting, create a regular cadence of meetings to keep the changes you’re making top of mind with your team. You might also consider forming a “change coalition” of managers, decision-makers and top-performers who can provide ideas, report on commitments, help inspire others and track progress. Give your strongest-performing team members the power to help enact change.
Overcommunicate your vision of change. Overcommunication was important when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and we were all separated by distances and obstacles that weren’t there before. Overcommunication is just as crucial now as we implement and execute on transformational changes. Whatever cadence you’ve set for your communication, up it by a factor of five and you’ll be in the necessary range to communicate effectively. As a related note, make sure you have feedback tools in place for your communications and that you’ve utilized all channels to deliver the correct message to the right people at the appropriate time.
Remember change isn’t just about policy or procedure; it’s about culture, too. As my first leadership mentor Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” I recall learning about Drucker as an 18-year-old in college in Management 101 and I’ve followed his teachings ever since. A positive mindset isn’t just helpful when navigating challenges of change … it’s an absolute necessity. Positive team members will foster positive change. A culture of perpetual improvement is one that is ready and apt to accept vital and sweeping changes. Right now, culture looks a lot different than it did three months ago but that doesn’t mean it can’t exist. As states begin to open up, businesses are instituting a hybrid model of remote work and office work, in-person meetings and virtual meetings. We’re discovering a new balance that’s collaborative yet flexible to change.
So, what’s the message? There isn’t one set formula for instituting and implementing transformational changes. The above points build an executional framework any leader can use to build a lasting foundation for a safer, more inclusive and better world. Now is our chance to be the leaders of the change we seek.