On Leadership

September 29, 2017 | John Salustri

I was more inspired recently by something I saw on LinkedIn than I ever did in my years watching Facebook for pictures of people’s meals, their dogs and their group selfies. It was a quote from Oleg Vishnepolsky, Global CTO at the Daily Mail Online.

The quote had nothing to do with social media (which really isn’t social at all) but business leadership, namely: “It does not make sense to hire chess players and treat them like chess pieces.” So I turned to some names--in and outside the industry--to gauge their conception of what leadership is, aided of course by a simple Google search for quotes on the subject. In all, I found some profound wisdom in small bundles, and as we swing into the October Global Summit, thought it a perfect time to share some of the most pertinent ideas.

Obviously, my first stop was with IREM 2017 president Michael T. Lanning, who in a recent column for the National Real Estate Investor, wrote that, “Leadership is a multi-faceted jewel. Among other things, it is strategic, it is positive and it is long term. It stands to reason then that companies and professional organizations with solid mentorship programs also stand a higher chance of cultivating successful, long-term employees. From day one, it is critical that new hires are brought up to speed quickly and shown the path to success. . . . This is how great future leaders are developed. It is also a sign that they, in fact, were hired by a great leader.”

(The process of cultivating leaders, of course, was a prime focus of IREM’s recent Leadership Handbook for Real Estate Professionals.)

In an article I did for SIOR Report recently, I spoke with two of their senior officers, and asked them to explain the difference between leadership and management. Current president Geoffrey Kasselman, SIOR, LEED AP, made an interesting distinction. “The manager’s job is to plan and organize, while the leader’s job is to inspire and motivate,” he said.

I’ve interviewed SIOR past president Allen Gump a number of times over the years and have found him a devotee of the too-often-forgotten servant-leadership movement. I’ve always liked the quote from the movement’s founder, Robert K. Greenleaf: “Good leaders must first become good servants.” And I recently found this one, again from Greenleaf but a bit more challenging, and related to Vishnepolsky’s chess analogy: “Ego can’t sleep. It micro-manages. It disempowers. It reduces our capability. It excels in control.”

One can never go wrong by quoting either Deepak Chopra or Steve Jobs, so here is the former on the nature of leadership: “Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness . . . intuition, creativity, insight and focused attention.”

And the latter: “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

And, finally, on a related note, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: “Leadership is a choice, not a position.”

Leadership comes in many packages, and it informs virtually all phases of our lives: work, play, family and certainly all aspects of stress. If you’re a leader, you’re a leader always. It’s built into your DNA but fueled either by your ego or your humility. For me, the question always comes down to who is the focus of your leadership . . . the leader or those being led?

As Napoleon Bonaparte (not exactly a shrinking violet) said: “A throne is only a bench covered in velvet.”

About the Author

John Salustri is editor-in-chief of Salustri Content Solutions, Inc., a consultancy focused on enhancing the web and print content of clients around the nation. He is a regular contributor to JPM Magazine and a frequent blogger for IREM's website. Prior to launching SCS, John was founding editor of GlobeSt.com, the industry's premier real estate news website, where he managed the daily output of 25 international reporters, and prior to that, he was editor of Real Estate Forum Magazine. John is a four-time winner of the National Association of Real Estate Editors' Award for Excellence in Journalism.

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