Management & Mentors — RISMedia

The last three blog posts have been about my mentors (read the Zig Ziglar post herethe Og Mandino post here and the Jim Rohn contribution here) as well as the leaders who have inspired me throughout my career and had a profound impact on my life. In this post, I’m going to talk to you about an incredible leader who has also had a profound impact on my life and career, and that person is Alain Pinel.

Alain began his career in 1965 as a political writer for the French daily, “Dusk.” Over the next six years he wrote for many newspapers and magazines and even commentated on news radio. (I remember he told me a story about a day with Bobby Kennedy for a story Alain wrote about him.)

Seven years later, in 1972, Alain’s professional career took him to the Golden State, where he accepted a position as Regional Manager La Salle Extension University in Northern California, then became Western Zone Manager for US Industries/Beacon. Eventually, he entered an industry he would stay in for decades: real estate.

His industry start was at Fox & Carskadon in Los Altos, California. By 1979 he was the managing broker of the new Saratoga office in Silicon Valley. In 1984, Alain was named senior vice president with responsibility for the South Bay region, and a year later he became executive vice president and director of sales for the company. During his five-year tenure, the company tripled its sales to $3 billion and became known as one of the leading residential real estate companies in the country.

This is exactly why, when I got my real estate license in 1985, I only wanted to work for one company and that was Fox & Carskadon.

After I founded Intero Real Estate Services, my partner John Thompson and I sat down with Alain and convinced him to join Intero as senior vice president, managing officer and general manager of Prestigio International, Intero’s luxury division.

Alain is incredibly smart and insightful when it comes to being leaders in the real estate industry. He is the author of two books and his leadership perspectives from Real Estate Management: Strategies & Tactics are relevant to leaders who expect focus, productivity and growth from their teams.

The one thing I really admire about Alain Pinel (well, there are many things, but this one stands out) is that he would never hesitate to go to a listings presentation with his agents.

As Alain would say, “It’s pretty brave though. You want to shine and win, not look like you don’t know what you’re doing and possibly screw up a listing opportunity for the agent you’re trying to help.”

Attending a listing presentation with an agent provides managerial and leadership value, according to Alain. You are now investing in your agent’s business growth and really need to know how to sell for this tactic to work for everyone. From an agent’s perspective, this might be the very element of your leadership style that they most admire.

In his book, Alain attempts to answer this simple but powerful question: What is a leader? Let me tell you what I learned from Alain Pinel: A leader is not someone people follow, but someone people follow want Follow. I learned from Alain: “Leadership is not about making friends or giving in to unreasonable and unjustified demands to buy respect and loyalty. A true leader can be (and usually is) stubborn and demanding. And it’s fine as long as they’re just, fair, honest, sincere, and consistent.”

Agents, like everyone, crave a challenge, Alain taught me. That’s why we’re so focused on goals. When we have a goal, when we visualize a goal, we have created a goal that we can now achieve. There is a tangible definition of success, not an unstructured one, and it helps us duplicate our progress and sustain it over the long term.

In his book, Alain outlines a list of qualities that leaders should possess and I want to share them with you now because these are qualities I learned from Alain that we should all focus on every day:

  • Even when strategies or tactics change, a leader with a clear vision that inspires them can always motivate a team to act.
  • When inspiration works, belief follows, says Alain. People believe in your vision, and as Alain writes, “Motivation comes and goes; Inspiration lingers.”
  • When there is trust in a team, members will embrace your vision as their own. They will fight for you and the success of the company because they trust where you are going and where you are taking your team.
  • The best leaders have something I do not know what, (an enjoyable quality that cannot be precisely named or described). From the way they dress to their attitude; they have that certain something that makes them stand out from the crowd and that was Alain Pinel in action.
  • To fully engage and mobilize a team, leaders need to perfect their communication skills.
  • It helps to be smart and, as I said, it helps to be a student of continuous improvement. New eyes see old things in new ways, and you can share what you learn with your team and use it to drive growth.
  • For leaders, their work must be their calling, and when they’re so passionate about the business, it’s absolutely contagious. You can’t help but feel passionate too.
  • This trait means that a leader will never settle for mediocrity or stagnation, for that is the beginning of the end. They constantly want to do more, learn more, be more.
  • As Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your height.”

So what’s the news? There is no trait that makes you a great leader above all else. Leadership, as Alain Pinel defines it, is a mix of many, many, many different qualities that make you a leader. People not only follow, but want Follow.

This article is an adaptation of Blefari’s weekly company-wide column, Thoughts on Leadership HomeServices of America.

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