Courageous self-leadership

Courageous self-leadership

19 October 2020

By Heidi Dening

Real estate agents have endured a mountain of pressure in recent months due to the uncertainty, change and stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s how you can embrace self-leadership to turn that pressure into performance.

In times of adversity, when overwhelm raises its ugly head, focusing only on what we can control makes a real difference to our ability to cope. Of course, this is easier said than done. But, if you want to turn the daily pressures you’re experiencing into productivity and performance, it’s a skill you need to work on.

When life feels out of control, it takes great self-leadership to continue to put one foot in front of the other. To navigate successfully out of this tough environment, you need to embrace self-leadership skills. Why? Because, unfortunately, no one’s going to do it for you.

I’ve learnt this the hard way. I’ve transformed my own setbacks. A paralysing illness, where I lost the use of my legs. A kidnapping at gunpoint. Tsunami terror. And narrowly escaping being burnt alive when petrol bombs were thrown at my room. One thing I know for sure is that “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me”.

Transforming pressure into performance

When your resilience is low, it’s very hard to perform at your best and when there are so many extra pressures on top of life’s normal ones, it can be difficult to cope. That’s why improving resilience is now more important than ever if you want to bend, rather than break, during these high-pressured times.

Resilience means you can recover from adversities, bounce back after setbacks and keep moving forward in a positive way.

Imagine that your resilience is a bucket and the water in that bucket represents all your strengths and capabilities.

When life is good, your bucket feels strong and sturdy. You know those times. It’s when property is selling faster than you can find it. Tenants aren’t continuously calling you with annoying issues. And you feel like you’re effectively juggling all your responsibilities, both professionally and personally.

But, unfortunately, when life gets a little wobbly (as it has been in recent months), your bucket can become vulnerable. Little holes start to appear, and your strengths and capabilities start to leak out.

Work is hard when you’re not physically and mentally at your best. You might feel lethargic or have trouble focusing. You may make some poor decisions or silly mistakes. Or you could become teary or cranky over nothing and find yourself lacking motivation.

Do you know how these uncertain times are actually impacting your levels of resilience? Take this short three-minute quiz to find out:

And when these challenging times start to create holes in the buckets of your real estate business, you lose your best people, waste hard-earned revenue, damage your brand and miss profitable opportunities.

“Self-leadership is about sitting in the driver’s seat of your life and having the courage to keep moving forward – even when times are tough.”

Building resilience

As a real estate professional, it’s important that you find ways to habitually incorporate resilience-building activities into both your professional and personal lives.

Here are three examples that will help you to improve your performance, despite the daily pressures you’re experiencing.

  • Be still – When stress levels are at an all-time high, it’s important to take 10 minutes a day to simply be still. Sit in silence, do some deep breathing, listen to a mindfulness app, pat the cat or soak up the sounds of nature.
  • Move more – This doesn’t have to be a hard-core cross-fit workout. It could just be a gentle stretch in your lounge room. The key is to keep your body moving. Take the dog for an extra walk or download a free fitness app and workout in your lounge room.
  • Laugh out loud – It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed with the mounting pressure this ‘new normal’ brings. Do you have a funny person in your life that you could have a three-minute chat with because you know you’re guaranteed to laugh out loud with them? Or perhaps you can follow someone on social media? I personally love Celeste Barbour and she certainly makes me laugh out loud every day.

Self-leadership is not something you can outsource. You’ll not find a category on Upwork or Airtasker, nor can you delegate it to a team member. Self-leadership is about sitting in the driver’s seat of your life and having the courage to keep moving forward – even when times are tough.

As we’ve heard time and time again: “This too shall pass.” But if you want to fast-track your performance and be the go-to professional that your customers trust, then embracing self-leadership is your first step.

Traits of self-leaders

1. They are of service

Do you genuinely go out of your way to help your colleagues to cope better? What are some of the little things you can do? Can you:

  • Help set up the technology that’s now needed for someone who’s not as technically savvy as you?
  • Have an R U OK conversation every day with someone in your team?
  • Email a link to an article that’s light and fun, and will bring a moment of relief?

2. They lead by example

Are you walking your talk and being the professional that others look up to because of your calmness, smarts and vision for the future? Remember, actions speak louder than words, so consider how you’re appearing to your colleagues. Make sure:

  • You don’t verbally catastrophise about the current situation.
  • You provide at least one optimistic view about the future of the real estate industry.
  • You proactively keep yourself healthy by displaying social distancing and handwashing, and take time out so you don’t burn out.

3. They listen intently

During these ever-changing and uncertain times, are you mastering the art of being present and really listening to the challenges, concerns and stories of the people around you? What we know is that ‘being heard’ is something most of us want in this world. Make sure you:

  • Don’t speak to someone on the phone while you’re scrolling through your emails.
  • Check in regularly with team members who are working from home.
  • After a conversation, repeat back what you’ve heard to make sure it’s correct.

4. They allow themselves to be fallible

No one likes a know-it-all! It’s OK to:

  • Admit that you don’t have all the answers.
  • Acknowledge that things are changing quickly in the real estate industry and that a good decision you make today could be a wrong one next week.
  • Say out loud that you’re concerned with the current situation, because people trust those who are honest and transparent.

HEIDI DENING is a speaker, educator and author of the best-selling self-leadership book Her middle name is courage – How self-leadership transforms pressure into performance, chaos into clarity and rage into resilience

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