Following a Leader

by Chicago Agent

By Eleanor Olson

I have had the opportunity to work at Coldwell Banker under Jennifer Ames’ leadership in various capacities for more than two years. Working closely with one of the most talented and respected agents in the Chicagoland area has given me a unique insight into what it takes to develop and lead a successful real estate team.

One of the keys to having a great team is to recruit exceptional talent and qualified professionals who can work independently. A savvy leader is able to bring together a talented group of people and give them the autonomy and support to do their jobs. It also means making sure they have the opportunity to build their skills through additional training, with the potential for growth in their position within the team.

Rather than try to be a “chief, cook and bottle washer,” Jenny delegates. Other people on our team book appointments, send feedback, manage her e-mail, manage our contracts, maintain our Web site and do all of our design work. Having confidence in the depth of the team frees a top agent like Jenny to do what she does best – marketing, strategy and sales.

Clear communication is also imperative for a successful leader to guide her team. Leaders are responsible for articulating the team vision and ideologically and logistically make it happen. Our team’s mission is to provide exceptional customer service and expert knowledge on all aspects of buying, listing and selling a home. We are able to do this because Jenny has set up our team to work well together. We share the same office space, calendar and e-mail; everyone knows what the others are doing. Our marketing people work directly with clients when necessary, and our sales people give feedback on advertising when needed. We know each client, their family and their home. Therefore, there is no impersonal outsourcing of tasks with us like there can be at a corporate brokerage.

A leader has to exemplify the characteristics they want their team to emulate. Jenny’s attention to detail is exacting, but it has challenged each of us to reach that level. Jenny has a great capacity for anticipating potential problems, and proactively seeks solutions in advance rather than reacting to them when they occur. Each team member knows that when we feel something may be an issue, it is best to take a deep breath and look for a creative resolution. Lastly, and especially in the current market, Jenny’s tenacity and perseverance keeps us motivated.

In real estate, maintaining a healthy relationship with your team, your clients and other professionals in our field and/or related industries is key. Jenny understands this and creatively engages people inside and outside of the work place. We have team events which give us a chance to simply “hang out” together, such as going to a ball game, enjoying a barbecue or attending a group cooking class. As a team, we host a variety of holiday parties for our clients and colleagues, past and present. We also get together socially with vendors, attorneys, contractors, stagers, etc., and other people who are integral to our success. Additionally, we host luncheons for other agents, which serve as forums for a discussion about the market, as well as a chance to network and get to know each other better.

The best part of working for a strong leader and with a talented team is that it translates into tangible results for everyone involved. We are working hard but we are also working smart, and I am learning a lot. At the end of the day, I know Jenny cares about my future as well as the rest of the team. I also know that she cares deeply about the importance of doing our best for each one of our clients. It is the knowledge that we are helping people that motivates our team every day.

Eleanor Olson is the Client Care Coordinator with The Jennifer Ames Team at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. She can be reached at 312.440.7568 or by e-mail at eleanor@jenniferames.com.

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