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Opinion: Brokerage firms live or die by their leadership

While the executive team plants the seeds of culture, it must be watered and nurtured by local leaders.

Leadership matters. It matters at every level, and it matters more than you may realize. Leadership has a direct and powerful impact on agents’ success and on the culture within your organization.

When you hear the word ‘leadership’, most people immediately think ‘CEO’ or ‘President’, but I would argue that these top-level leaders are not the most important leader when it comes to culture.

Local leaders make or break a culture

A CEO may share their vision for what they want the culture to look like, but it is the local leader who will ultimately make or break the local culture. The local culture is what the world actually experiences which is why leadership matters at every level, but more so at the local level.

As the CEO of a brokerage with agents in over 120 markets across more than 35 states, I can see the direct result, or lack thereof, of a local leaders’ impact on the business. I care deeply and passionately about creating a culture that places people above profits. While I share my vision for a culture built on servant leadership, it is the local leader who must execute on the vision.

There is a direct correlation between how well a local leader serves their agents and how fast their market center grows — or dies. A market center’s growth can happen in three ways: recruiting, retention and transactions per agent. All three of these areas are positively or negatively affected by that local leader.

Recruiting and retention

When you truly serve and love your agents, those agents will tell other agents about their experience and help directly and indirectly recruit other agents to your office. Who can recruit more agents, one leader or the larger group of agents in their care? I think the answer is obvious. The same thing is true for retention. Agents are far more likely to ignore all the recruiting noise that bombards them daily if they feel connected and cared for.

Transactions per agent

The third area of growth is transactions per agent? I see so many local leaders who forget about this area, and yet their agents care strongly about it. Agents overwhelmingly want support and training to help them grow their business. Training can be taught at the national level, but national or virtual training can never fully replace agents coming together for training and to mastermind as a group. Agents are people-people and more often than not, need that personal interaction.

I am a big believer that you cannot build culture in a vacuum. Brokerages who fail to hire local leaders suffer from massive agent attrition and poor culture. That is why, even though Fathom Realty is a ‘virtual’ brokerage, we hire local leaders in every single market we serve. We charge our local leaders with serving their agents on a one-on-one basis and physically bringing their agents together regularly for training, social events, and charity.

Accountability is crucial

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to simply hire a local leader. You have to hire the right leader and then hold them accountable to the vision and to their agents. To do that, we have regional leaders whose job it is to ensure our local leaders have the resources and training they need to be their best and thereby provide greater service to their agents.

If you run a brokerage, I want to encourage you to think about how you can provider greater value to your agents. Stop being reactive to your agent’s needs and start being proactive. Never stop looking for ways to better serve your agents and show them you care.

If you’re an agent, ask yourself if your broker is serving you and not just their bottom line. Do they spend all their time recruiting and promising the world only to forget about you once you have joined? If so, remind them why the brokerage exists in the first place and then if they fail to change, it is time for you to find a brokerage who will place people over profits.

Culture is vital and while the seeds of culture may be planted by the executive team, it must be watered and nurtured by the local leader.

Josh Harley is the CEO and founder of Fathom Holdings Inc.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of RealTrends’ editorial department and its owners.

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Josh Harley at

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