Leadership: Listen more; talk less

Sandra ClarkBearden, Blount, Our Town Leaders

For the past two years, the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors has selected a broker from Realty Executives Associates as “Managing Broker of the Year.” It’s a new award, first given in 2018 to Beth Stewart, principal broker of the West Town office of Coldwell Banker-Wallace.


The 2020 winner is Pat McGill, agency manager of REA in Maryville.

The 2019 winner was Justin Bailey, now managing broker of the Bearden office of REA and chief executive officer of the firm.

The award recognizes a Realtor who demonstrates exemplary business experience and accomplishments and a reputation for high professional competence, according to KAAR.

We tracked down (no easy task) each of the past two winners to get tips on leadership.

A leader must have vision, says McGill, “visions of the future, new technology, new software and what is next coming down the pike that can and will impact an agent’s future business.”

She observes that each agent is an independent contractor – a business owner. Running a business starts with “ethical behavior and a relationship built on trust,” she says. “I take personally each agent’s successful accomplishments, as well as their unsuccessful stories and share their excitement or disappointment.”

And while she is in charge, McGill considers herself a partner with her affiliate brokers and agency staff. “I have always tried to make sure we share a mutual respect for each other and share the same goals.”

Justin Bailey says a managing broker must wear many hats: Counselor, negotiator, advocate, compliance officer, trainer and conflict resolver are among them.

“At the end of the day, I think the most important attribute of a broker is steadfastness. You have to hear and empathize with a lot of emotion and frustration while still remaining calm and resolute.”

A common misconception, he says, is that a broker must have the back of his clients and agents in every situation. That’s certainly true if/when the client and agent are in the right. “However, it’s also having the ability to look them in the eye and say, ‘We were wrong on this one.’ My job is to look at the contract and determine who’s right and who’s wrong and have the guts to tell them the truth.”

The most important thing a leader can do? “Listen more. Talk less,” says Bailey.

“Remember, the individuals you work with have entrusted their careers to you. Let that weight set upon your shoulders in a way that inspires you to care deeply about and for them.”

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