THE SELF-TAUGHT LEADER Kylie Maxwell

BUSI­NESS OWNER AND LEADER Kylie Maxwell fin­ished her last year of sec­ondary school not know­ing what she wanted to do. From the re­cep­tion desk to busi­ness owner, she shares the top take­aways from her jour­ney to lead­er­ship.

Elite Property Manager - - Contents - Kylie Maxwell is Di­rec­tor and Fran­chise owner of LJ Hooker Quean­beyan, with 25 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in prop­erty man­age­ment. Kylie will be speak­ing about ‘Elite Trans­for­ma­tion’ at ARPM 2018. For more in­for­ma­tion visit arpm­con­fer­ence.com.au.

With no am­bi­tion and pos­si­bly no abil­ity, I wasn’t plan­ning on be­ing a leader. Twen­ty­seven years later, I’m a busi­ness owner and front­line prop­erty man­ager and I seem to have filled those lead­er­ship boots quite well.

Tak­ing the steps from re­cep­tion­ist to prop­erty man­ager to busi­ness owner, and nat­u­rally to leader, has been quite a learn­ing curve. Here are my take­away lessons.

LES­SON ONE

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE GLORY

I re­mem­ber, not too long ago, sit­ting in an awards night where a lot of my team had re­ceived awards and rightly so – they de­served ev­ery bit of recog­ni­tion. I was not el­i­gi­ble for any­thing.

In my of­fice these days I am a Jack of all trades and wear nu­mer­ous hats. How­ever, I had a mo­ment of emo­tion come over me and had to ex­cuse my­self from the ta­ble to go and have a lit­tle cry in the ladies’ toi­lets. I was the one who had sup­ported them, ad­vised them what to do and at times had done a lot of the hard work for them, which in turn al­lowed them to reach their goals and tar­gets, be in the spot­light and get recog­ni­tion for their jobs.

It took me a long time and a lot of coach­ing to re­alise that as a leader your re­ward is per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion, see­ing your team grow and get their chance to shine. I am now at the point where I can give my­self a silent high-five and say, ‘I helped get them there’. I’m happy not to get the beau­ti­ful glass dust col­lec­tor with my name on it.

LES­SON TWO

YOU NEED TO LET YOUR TEAM FALL

Let’s face it, prop­erty man­age­ment can be hard at times and, with lit­tle to choose from in the tal­ent pool these days, you want to do what you can to re­tain staff. I thought that by tak­ing on the hard stuff, putting out bush­fires and pro­tect­ing my staff from stress I was do­ing the right thing by them. Boy, did I have that wrong.

All I was do­ing was stunt­ing their growth and not al­low­ing them to feel the sat­is­fac­tion of pro­vid­ing a so­lu­tion to a com­plex is­sue. I didn’t re­alise un­til a trainer ad­vised me I was be­ing self­ish, not to men­tion burn­ing my­self out. I now look at this in a whole dif­fer­ent light. Sure, I still help, but the pile of ‘too hard to han­dle’ work no longer sits on my desk.

The em­pow­er­ment and growth in my team has been in­cred­i­ble. I now al­low them to tackle the hard stuff and we brain­storm so­lu­tions, with most an­swers com­ing from them, and just a few tweaks and sup­port from me. This gives the team con­fi­dence in their abil­ity and al­lows them to grow into ef­fi­cient and ca­pa­ble prop­erty man­agers. Guess what? They are also happy to stick around and I no longer mi­cro-man­age… Weight lifted, sigh of re­lief!

LES­SON THREE

NOT EV­ERY­ONE IS GO­ING TO LIKE YOU

Steve Jobs once said, “If you want to make ev­ery­one happy, don’t be a leader; sell ice cream”. There has never been a state­ment that rings so true.

Our job as lead­ers is to con­struc­tively lis­ten to our team, look at the facts and the busi­ness vi­sion and then make an in­formed de­ci­sion on the best di­rec­tion or path to fol­low. Un­for­tu­nately, not ev­ery­one is go­ing to agree with or like that de­ci­sion. Don’t jump from one an­swer to an­other; just make it and stick with it. As a leader you’re not there to win friends and make peo­ple happy all the time. Don’t sugar-coat it; peo­ple will soon lose re­spect in you if you try to be a peo­ple-pleaser. Noth­ing will be achieved, and the busi­ness and team will not be work­ing in a uni­formed di­rec­tion.

LES­SON FOUR

IT'S YOUR SHIP AND YOU NEED TO STEP UP AND STEER IT

Sev­eral years back I walked into an of­fice which had lost their se­nior prop­erty man­ager. Two sales-based di­rec­tors were do­ing the best they could to en­sure ev­ery­thing was run­ning smoothly, but no­body was re­ally steer­ing the ship in that area of the busi­ness. The di­rec­tors were putting out lit­tle bush­fires here and there, but they also had their sales depart­ment to run and they were both ex­cel­lent sell­ing prin­ci­pals. The prop­erty man­age­ment team were strug­gling on a foun­da­tion of mixed pro­ce­dures and pro­cesses. The depart­ment was stressed, staff morale was low and busi­ness was walk­ing out the door. Some­one had to step up and steer the ship and turn it around.

I made the de­ci­sion to wipe the black­board clean and we started from scratch. As a team we worked on what was work­ing and what wasn’t. We de­vel­oped a pro­ce­dures man­ual that ev­ery­one could work with and started to row the boat in the right di­rec­tion in­stead of go­ing around in cir­cles. Staff morale picked up, things were done more ef­fi­ciently and the stress lev­els went down. The team had di­rec­tion and lead­er­ship.

LES­SON FIVE

YOU NEED TO BRING THE EN­ERGY

A great say­ing is, ‘A fish al­ways rots from the head down.’ If you walk into your of­fice and the team seem stressed, the en­ergy lev­els are low and work pro­duc­tiv­ity is not great, then as a leader you need to take a good hard look in the mir­ror.

Your team’s en­ergy is only go­ing to be as good as the en­ergy that comes from the top. As lead­ers we set the tone and the ex­am­ple in the work en­vi­ron­ment. If I was con­tin­u­ally moody, snappy, stressed, late and not treat­ing clients with re­spect, what type of at­mos­phere and ex­am­ple do you think I would be set­ting for my team and the of­fice en­vi­ron­ment? Does the term ‘walk­ing on eggshells’ ring a bell?

On the other hand, if I’m up­beat, vi­brant, sup­port­ive and bring the en­ergy all the time, my team is more likely to feel at ease and stress-free. As lead­ers we not only need to walk the walk; we also need to talk the talk.

Lead­er­ship is hard, and it may not be for ev­ery­one – but it can be. You need to grow your­self be­fore you can grow oth­ers. My ad­vice is to have a look in the mir­ror and ask your­self, ‘Would I fol­low you?’

"IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO RE­ALISE THAT AS A LEADER YOUR RE­WARD IS PER­SONAL SAT­IS­FAC­TION, SEE­ING YOUR TEAM GET THEIR CHANCE TO SHINE."

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