Good leadership is a multi-faceted jewel. Among other things, it is strategic, it is positive and it is long term. Interestingly, those qualities also apply to the process of hiring and retaining top talent, which for my money, is one of the most critical capabilities of a successful leader. For indeed, a good leader must also be a good judge and manager of people.
That specific quality is going to be an even greater key to success as this industry progresses, because we are facing a dearth of future talent at a time in our professional growth when the industry is—let’s face it—getting older.
Our research shows that the average age of a Certified Property Manager is 52. And while that is by no means ancient, it does speak to our aging population. And the rest of the industry is not much younger, with the age of real estate practitioners from all disciplines averaging out to 50.
These are particularly staggering statistics when you fold in some sobering realities we reported last year in the Journal of Property Management. In an interview with Christopher Lee, president and CEO of the Los Angeles-based CEL & Associates Inc., he noted that, “only 30 percent of smaller firms survive into the second generation, only 12 percent survive into the third generation and only 3 percent of firms survive into the fourth generation.”
This month, IREM is releasing its Leadership Handbook for Real Estate Professionals, and these qualities pervade its content. In the skills that are described as a must for success today are the ability to cultivate leaders and the ability to assess and implement both organizational and individual leadership strategies. The handbook also provides leadership competencies as identified in What Property Managers Do: IREM Real Estate Job Analysis, a report based on a survey of more than 1,400 executives.
Clearly, with significant retirements coming up in the baby boomer cohort, now more than ever it is vital to attract and retain rock-star talent for both current and future success. And managers who hire simply to fill a current position are selling short their newly hired employee, their business and indeed their future. Hiring, after all, is only half the battle. New recruits—no matter the age—need to be cultivated, trained and introduced from day one to the mission and values of the company for which they are now working. Further, they must be shown that this mission and these values are upheld by all.
Virtually anyone with significant interest can be taught the nuts and bolts of real estate. That is not enough. Successful leaders groom the successful leaders of tomorrow by helping them to develop their leadership and interpersonal skills. In fact, IREM research also shows that these two assets rank higher among our membership than property management know-how.
This brings us to the question of mentorship. I saw a report recently about mentoring in high school. Students who have mentors—not just teachers—in high school have a 44 percent better chance of graduating college and going on to have successful careers than those students who do not.
It stands to reason then that companies and professional organizations with solid mentorship programs also stand a higher chance of cultivating successful, long-term employees. From day one, it is critical that new hires are brought up to speed quickly and shown the path to success.
This is how great future leaders are developed. It is also a sign that they, in fact, were hired by a great leader.
Michael T. Lanning is 2017 president of the IREM. In addition, he serves as senior vice president and city leader for the Cushman & Wakefield office in Kansas City, Mo.