Leadership Lessons on Women in the Real Estate Businesses


Pam O'Connor, President/CEO, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World

Women influence much of the business world today, and this is increasingly true when it comes to the business of real estate. In fact, the 2016 NAR Member Profile reveals that 62 percent of all REALTORS® are women.

In my role as president of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, I have had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the overall growth in women leaders across our 550 brokerage firms worldwide, many of which were founded by women. Of the LeadingRE member brokerages in the U.S., 28 percent of owners and CEOs are women (117 of 435 U.S. members).

Of course, not all women are alike, but studies have shown that we share some common traits that position us for business success. Business is both art and science, and our ability to balance the art (style and relationships) with the science (knowledge and competence) can be a powerful formula. Women are opportunity experts, asking “What if?” and then, “Why not?” We can multitask while remaining focused on the prize and are less inclined to let ego get in the way. We are networking experts, relationship builders and artful communicators, with keen emotional intelligence. We have a “Get It Done” mindset of initiative and efficiency.

In addition to these talents, the fact that women consumers play such a powerful role in purchasing
decisions makes it incredibly beneficial to have women in roles selling or managing consumer experiences—because no one understands other women like we do. Women drive the consumer market, so having women in business roles who understand women consumers is just good business.

While it’s easy to make a case for hiring women in real estate, it is similarly easy for talented women to choose a real estate career for many reasons. The work hour flexibility can be less challenging for working moms. Value is related to production, and with less of a “glass ceiling” phenomenon, the earning potential is unlimited.

There are many paths to take in a real estate career, so those interested should have a clear vision of their aspirations. Is the desire to be a top sales producer, which can be more lucrative than management? Or, is there more of an interest in pursuing a leadership role—whether in sales management, general management or, eventually, owning a brokerage? Is the motivation to ultimately retire from a great career with retirement income, to achieve industry recognition or to double your earnings?

No matter what path is right for you—and that course may change through the years—there are behaviors and practices I’ve learned from my 35-year career that can make a tremendous difference. I’m pleased to share some of those here.

1. Take risks, and pursue or accept jobs or assignments you might not be 100 percent prepared for.

2. Remember that popularity isn’t everything. Challenge decisions, but do so with grace.

3. Keep in mind that lateral moves may be the road to the top. Dream big and work to achieve those dreams by learning, improving and building on your strengths.

4. Be creative when striving for work-life balance, having the support you need in place.

5. Know what you don’t know. Be curious about people and places. The more you become interested, the more interesting you will become.

6. Don’t worry about what you can’t control, focusing on your actions, not others’.

7. Treat all people with respect; you give it to get it. Treat the janitor like the CEO because it’s the right thing to do.

8. Girlfriends matter, but don’t be a segregationist. Men are often the ones hiring and promoting. Make yourself indispensable and ask for guidance.

9. Think differently and embrace change; it’s coming, and you can help influence it.

10. Remember that consumers want control, convenience, choice and competence. Find ways to give it to them.

11. Look for the dark spots and shine a light there. Fill the gaps and meet unmet needs.

12. Be passionate about work and life. When you love what you do it will love you back.

13. Own your actions, never make excuses and admit your mistakes.

14. Welcome challenges, and remember when one door closes another opens.

15. Be introspective and understand the power of gratitude. While it’s important to be in the moment and engaged, it’s good sometimes just to think. What do you like best and least about your life? What do you want to do before you die? If you had one week by yourself at home what would you do?

16. Don’t be a victim, but do be vulnerable. Abolish “pity party” self-talk; you’re the one listening. Be the product of your decisions, not your circumstances. On any situation, you can choose to change it, accept it or leave it.

Always remember that you play an important role. Whether you are leading an office or working as a sales associate, when you employ your talents, follow your passion and pursue what you love, you create incredible opportunities for those you serve and for yourself. Be the driver rather than just a passenger on your journey through life.


Pam O’Connor
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World

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