Sylvia Seabolt: The Good, The Bad and The Messy of Leadership
by Kim Morris
Sylvia Seabolt is the Women’s Council of REALTORS® National President for 2022 and she wants to talk about the ugly parts of leadership, “Leadership is hard, it’s not easy, it’s not meant to be. It’s challenging. Part of the journey is talking about that.”
After watching her mom’s involvement in Women’s Council transform her, Sylvia says, “I wanted that for myself—I wanted to adapt, grow, learn, I wanted to go from timid to commanding.” She joined Women’s Council 20 years ago and agrees that the journey has not always been easy, but it’s been worth the ride.
It’s a “twisty and turning road” finding your authentic self, Seabolt says. “I was afraid to be me for years. I was once really good at the leadership game. I found some people who I thought were leaders and I tried to emulate them. In truth, I was only a follower, a great follower, but I wasn’t a leader. The more I focused on being liked, the less I tended to the unique parts that made me special.” Seabolt continues, “When I got to the National level, I discovered who I was, what I stood for. I found my voice. The more I found my voice, the more my integrity was questioned. I faced the hardest decision of my life, and I was up for the challenge of my life. Through conversations with people who supported me, I knew that if I just kept showing up, the members would know that I was the right fit for the Council.”
It’s hard, she says, because we don’t often talk about the self-doubt or the fear that comes with being a leader—the messy middle. “I truly believe that every single person has to go through something that nearly destroys them so they can figure out who they really are.”
Years of working in various capacities in Women’s Council taught Sylvia the logistics of being a leader, but the true heart of her leadership journey came one day when, “I made a stand for something I believed in. This was the first time I did this. It grounded me. I found my foundation,” she says. “I honed in on who I was, I owned my authenticity. The gift I give to the membership is this: be your authentic self, be willing to talk about the ugly. We can do that.”
Facing the struggles she faced, Seabolt says, “They told me, ‘there was no room for me at the table’ so I did the work and brought my own chair to the table and now, I am the next president because the membership believed in me. And with the support of people in this organization, I learned to believe in myself. I told myself, I am not giving up. I believe in this organization and our leaders and this Council deserves the experience and passion I bring to the table.”
Seabolt realized the importance of the deep connections she’s made through her leadership journey. When she was at her lowest, she was able to find a tiny bit of courage with a lot of encouragement from amazing friends in Women’s Council.
“I found my sisters in Women’s Council. That’s the intangible we can’t sell—the genuine love and compassion for another human that runs through this organization. That’s the Women’s Council I know and love.” It’s the Ripple Effect, Seabolt says, when you create a difference in someone’s life, you not only impact their life, you impact everyone influenced by them.
“It’s not just about all the leaders that sat in the seats before us, it’s about the ones that will sit there in the future.”
Your road might also be messy, squiggly, not straight and narrow like some. But know this, if you want a leadership role, you can work towards it--just remember to be true and authentic to yourself and your values. Seabolt encourages, “Start with a thought, start with a simple idea, but make sure you just start. Start to do something that scares the crap out of you. Go after the things you want. Apply for the position, tell people you love them...start a new business…take the risk. Be brave…be bold…do something daring.”