Don is CEO of DLP Real Estate Capital, a leader in single/multi-family RE brokerage, investment/asset/property mgt., construction, lending.
I define leadership by results. Specifically, the capacity to influence others through inspiration and passion, generated by vision, ignited by a purpose — and produced by conviction. With a deeper bench of up-and-coming leaders, you can improve performance and be better positioned to plan for future success.
My vision for successful and enduring leadership evolution comes from the book The 5 Levels of Leadership by leadership trainer John Maxwell. Of Maxwell’s five levels, I concentrated on level three — production. From Maxwell’s own description of this level, this is the place where production becomes intertwined with success. As more is produced, leaders find themselves more able to deal with thorny issues while team members feel motivated by the success of productivity. This brings them up a level in productivity and renews the cycle.
At my company, production is productivity and productivity is results. Our PPP — productivity per person — is driven by level three leadership. In production leadership, the leader recognizes that success is hard work and requires great effort and dedication from the team. At times, the leader must be willing to make difficult choices and have difficult conversations. At this level, you learn how to better communicate and be more effective. My own leadership experience combined with Maxwell’s work prompted me to develop my own 24 practices of highly productive leaders.
1. Build Discipline And Good Habits: Productive leaders must build habits that put them in a position to execute. They are intentional in how they spend their time — building habits that drive productivity while forgoing short-term gratification in favor of long-term accomplishment.
2. Do More Than You Ask From Others: If you are expecting your team members to work hard — putting in extra effort and hours around a big deadline — you must be willing to do the same, if not more.
3. Prioritize: Prioritization is a critical skill for any highly productive individual. Level three leaders limit their focus to real priorities before committing to real action.
4. Make Difficult Decisions: High levels of productivity require making difficult decisions and include listening to others’ feedback. This may mean terminating a team member who is not producing, letting go of a client, changing course on a project, re-strategizing, selecting team member promotions and so on.
5. Have Difficult Conversations: Embracing difficult conversations, not relying on emails or avoiding them altogether is key. Face-to-face conversations are a must.
6. Turn On Critical Thinking: Critical thinking requires taking the time to sit and think fully through an issue or opportunity. Thinking through the root issue, options, solutions and the outcome are necessary to master production.
7. Own Results And Be Accountable: Level three leaders know the buck stops with them. They are accountable for the results and know what they need to achieve. These individuals thrive on being responsible and being held accountable — no matter what.
8. Prepare For Your Day: Production-focused leaders are individuals who prepare for their day in advance and come to meetings fully prepared to discuss the topics at hand.
9. Organize Actions: Take your own notes. Don’t rely on a note taker. What action do we take next? Include a clear recap with action items that include ownership, due dates and follow-through.
10. Ask Why To Dig Deeper: Do not accept a possible answer at face value. Your decision may be based on inaccurate information or a symptom of the real issue. Dig deeper. Production-focused leaders will understand that this forces the team to think critically, learn and grow.
11. Embracing Conflict While Leading Change: Generally speaking, people do not enjoy conflict. It is often needed in order to change and make progress — even if a team has differing opinions. Develop momentum, keep it going and move in the right direction.
12. Keep Focused On Results: Results matter, regardless of obstacles: what the economy tries to dictate, problems that others may experience and so on. These leaders complete what they set out to do by staying focused on achieving results.
13. Show Positive Enthusiasm: Bring positive energy and excitement to everything you do and each situation. Positivity is critical for driving production.
14. Seek Alignment With Others: Alignment is one of the most critical practices of highly productive leaders — it keeps everyone rowing in the right direction. Align how you spend your time and energy with other team members, clients and customers.
15. Listen: Active listening is key — think about what the other person is saying. Avoid listening so that you can have a chance to talk. Confirm that you are engaged through verbal affirmation and nonverbal communication, such as nodding and eye contact.
16. Speak Simply And Directly: While people grow in their careers, they may fall into “MBA talk.” Don’t overcomplicate how you express yourself by saying more than is needed or making it more difficult to understand. State your point clearly and directly.
17. Act As Coach: Coaching is about investing time in others, primarily one on one. It requires a commitment by both parties, clear goal-setting and asking thought-provoking questions to promote growth.
18. Teach: Teaching requires taking the time to instruct, test, evaluate and provide feedback.
19. Inspect Expectations: Leaders may often neglect this practice of inspection — a show of caring about results. Team members want you to inspect the expectations you have for them in order to make them feel valued.
20. Provide Feedback: Invest in your team members by providing clear feedback and valuable performance evaluations — along with encouragement and positive reinforcement.
21. Follow Through: Do what you say you are going to do and when. Be consistent and on time, and follow through.
22. Obtain Buy-In: Provide all team members the opportunity to provide feedback and be part of discussions on decisions — especially those that require change.
23. Collaborate With Teammates: Seek collaboration from your teammates. Leverage their knowledge, strengths and insights.
24. Fortify Emotions: This is the ability to mentally and emotionally weather setbacks, disappointments, failures and frustrations. Emotional fortitude is the bedrock upon which we build our psyche.
Start your own journey by implementing a few of these practices at a time. Adhering to these practices will help to drive consistent productivity and positive results, both as an individual leader and a team. These practices are both beneficial and necessary to continue your growth toward the upper levels of leadership.
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