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Learning — and coaching — from your mistakes

by Meg White

Learning — and coaching — from your mistakes

From a leadership standpoint, it doesn’t do any good to project perfection. That’s why Ben Creamer, principal and managing broker at Downtown Apartment Company/Downtown Realty Company, is sure to point out his own past mistakes to help agents avoid them.

“I’ve been in this business for over a decade, so I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years. I give examples of how I would have approached a situation differently, so they do not run into the same issues,” Creamer said. “There’s no greater source of teachable moments than your own personal experience in the business.”

But simply sharing one’s experiences doesn’t always transfer knowledge, Creamer noted. That’s why he likes to lead agents through problem-solving exercises to help them develop the skills they need to tackle difficult situations on their own.

“I often present a tricky situation and ask them how they would handle it, so they learn to think through every facet of the problem and troubleshoot how they would solve it,” he said. “Regardless of whether they give the right answer, they’ve learned something valuable through the thought process.”

This approach not only teaches agents the skill of problem-solving but also imbues them with a proactive stance and acute sense of their own responsibilities in a given situation, according to Creamer.

Creamer manages more than 40 agents, and with that charge comes the need for both leadership and humility. “I greatly value the diversity of our team and the various skill sets they all bring to the table. As a leader, I need to not only understand and play to my own strengths, but also recognize the need to surround myself with people who bring skills that I lack,” he said. “The most important rule of thumb is to put your team ahead of yourself. It’s crucial to success.”

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