Lead­er­ship a chal­lenge even at the best of times

Irish Independent - Business Week - - APPOINTMENTS -

There is much talk of lead­er­ship these days, par­tic­u­larly in pol­i­tics and sport, and it re­minds me of the myr­iad of chal­lenges that face lead­ers of pro­fes­sional firms and, in­deed, lead­ers of de­part­ments within firms. Es­tate agency is par­tic­u­larly com­plex in that not only are lead­ers re­spon­si­ble for their own staff and their clients, but they are also re­spon­si­ble to the pub­lic, through deal­ing with large num­bers of en­quir­ers, view­ers, and bid­ders. In this, the leader must set the stan­dards.

What are the qual­i­ties needed by a leader? Even that ques­tion pro­vokes de­bate. For ex­am­ple, who do you think has the best lead­er­ship qual­i­ties: Theresa May or Mick McCarthy? Leo Varad­kar or Joe Sch­midt?

Dif­fer­ent lead­ers have dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties, which make them more suit­able for cer­tain roles at cer­tain times. It’s in­ter­est­ing to look at the lead­er­ship of the largest Ir­ish es­tate agents, where, pos­si­bly in­flu­enced by own­er­ship by over­seas brands, there is per­haps more em­pha­sis on ‘a safe pair of hands’ than the strong ‘per­son­al­ity’ type lead­ers of 20 years ago.

Times change, but some might say the busi­ness is less in­ter­est­ing without char­ac­ters like the late Fin­tan Gunne, Hugh Hamil­ton, John Fin­negan and oth­ers of that era. That said, to­day’s lead­ers are not only ex­perts in their area, but they tend to be amongst the best of their peers at deal­ing with peo­ple.

And sev­eral of to­day’s lead­ers also have yet an­other au­di­ence to keep happy — the over­seas owner!

So your choice of leader, in and of it­self, sends a mes­sage to your au­di­ences about the val­ues and per­son­al­ity of the firm.

And lead­ers must be aware of the sig­nals that they them­selves are send­ing to staff and clients. You must un­der­stand your own strengths and weak­nesses, which is eas­ier said than done. Large firms will prob­a­bly carry out per­son­al­ity pro­fil­ing and staff sur­veys, but if that’s not pro­vid­ing the an­swers then you should have an ex­pe­ri­enced men­tor, or a trusted col­league, who will ‘tell it like it is’.

Lead­ers tend to be cho­sen from those who have ex­celled in their own ar­eas (usu­ally big fee earn­ers) and who have shown an abil­ity to win busi­ness. The first shock to the leader will be the re­al­i­sa­tion that most of their skills will be of no help in the most chal­leng­ing part of the job, which is deal­ing with the re­sults of hu­man in­ter­ac­tion, be­tween col­leagues, and be­tween staff and clients.

The leader’s strengths and val­ues can in­spire peo­ple and set the tone for an or­gan­i­sa­tion. Isn’t it in­ter­est­ing that Theresa May, who seems de­void of charisma, is ac­tu­ally win­ning peo­ple over through her ex­tra­or­di­nary tenac­ity? Mean­while, Boris John­son, who has bun­dles of charisma, no longer in­spires the con­fi­dence that he once did.

The best lead­ers in­spire those around them to higher per­for­mance. You lead by ex­am­ple. Praise fre­quently and pub­licly

— it en­er­gises those around you and, when you have to find fault, it is more likely to be taken as rea­son­able and bal­anced.

Lead­er­ship can be a re­ward­ing role, but it is also a chal­leng­ing, and some­times lonely one. And from ex­pe­ri­ence and ob­ser­va­tion, it is eas­ier to lead a firm in a down­turn than in a ris­ing mar­ket like to­day’s. So why not give your boss a rare word of thanks and ap­pre­ci­a­tion, and watch them re­dou­ble their ef­forts?

Sur­vey­ors wel­come Cork’s growth

In an­other sign of the strength­en­ing mar­ket in the re­gions, over 200 peo­ple at­tended the SCSI South­ern Re­gion An­nual Din­ner last Fri­day in Cork, where I was de­lighted to be the af­ter­dinner speaker.

SCSI Pres­i­dent Des O’Broin ad­dressed the au­di­ence, and the chair­man of the south­ern re­gion, TJ Cronin, strongly wel­comed the ex­pan­sion of the Cork City bound­ary which will see the city’s pop­u­la­tion grow from 120,000 to 210,000. Cronin said this was a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity for Cork City Coun­cil and Cork County Coun­cil to mar­ket the Cork re­gion as a lo­ca­tion for in­ward in­vest­ment.

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