Back in 1996, Linda McKissack sat in Gary Keller’s office and told him she wanted more from her career. The issue was she was already doing everything she could with the time she had. What Keller suggested next would alter her course forever:
You need to learn how to lead talent, not be talent.
“That conversation and that advice changed the trajectory of my life,” she says.
Since that discussion, McKissack has transitioned into a role where she spends her time leading others and pursuing all the opportunities that Keller Williams has to offer. She is currently the company’s No. 1 profit share earner as well as a bestselling author.
Learning many lessons along the way, McKissack shares her top three tips for leverage and leading talent:
Set Standards and Let Go
When McKissack first tried to lead Brad, whom she had chosen to replace her in her real estate business, she struggled to accept that he didn’t do things her way. He had been in real estate less than six months, and McKissack wanted to micromanage. "I was about to turn over my business – my baby, the business I had grown from the ground up, that I had gotten to over 200 transactions a year,” she recalls. “Needless to say I was extremely nervous.”
But Keller suggested she give Brad a goal and let him reach it however he thought best. Because McKissack was getting about 18 listings a month before Brad, she decided to use that standard to measure his success. Additionally, she and Brad had done the Career Visioning process, which told her, based on his past performances and life story, that he would “get up every day and figure out how to win.” Once she implemented the standard and let go, she felt a reassuring sense of freedom.
Keller Williams’ Career Visioning is the first in a series of leadership training courses (aka ‘Leverage’) designed to empower you to find, train and lead your future talent. As McKissack would learn, your success will not be measured by how much you get done; it will be measured by what you get done through other people. Great businesses succeed in direct proportion to the talent they bring on board.
Focus on Your Talent, Not Yourself
This was challenging for McKissack because, up to that point, she had focused on her own goals and accomplishments. But it was crucial for her to accept that the people she’d chosen want different things. “When you hire people with big dreams and big goals,” McKissack says, “they'll get up and drive your organization so that they get what they want.”
Figure out what your talent wants through Career Visioning, particularly during the motivational interview. Then, it’s up to you to check in by asking five important questions each week:
- What were your goals?
- How did you do?
- How do you feel about that?
- Based on your performance, what do you think you need to do next?
- If there was one thing I could do to help you, what would that be?
“When we know what someone wants,” McKissack says, “we have to do the most important thing a leader can do, and that is hold them accountable to their goals.”
Take People With You
You will hit an “achievement ceiling” if you continue to succeed around people instead of succeeding through them. While there is a fear of spending time and energy on someone who might eventually leave, McKissack adds: “The truth is, talent only leaves when there’s no more opportunity … or the spot they want is yours and you're not willing to move.”
You should want people to want to be you, and you should dream big enough that talent wants to join you for the ride. McKissack and Brad, for example, have bought over 60 investment properties together, and McKissack and her team leader now own three market centers. It might take time to hire the right talent, but you must keep at it. McKissack says that it’s worth your time to master this process because, as Keller once told her, “The only difference between your life and mine is that for those 20 years, you were mastering how to buy investment properties, and I was mastering how to lead talented people.”