Good Leaders Focus on Solutions, Not Problems 

Sponsored Content by National Strategic Partner, Exit Realty
By Tami Bonnell, CEO, EXIT Realty Corp. International

I’m involved in several diversity and inclusion initiatives and often during those meetings, people discuss events in the past and injustices suffered. While honoring and holding space for the people who lived through those events and suffered those injustices is important, if we want to make a significant impact and progress now, we must focus on solutions, not on problems.  This is true of social issues, in our personal lives and in our businesses, too. 

Good REALTORS®, leaders and forward-thinking organizations are all solutions-oriented, and one of the best examples I’ve seen from a diversity and inclusion point of view is Freddie Mac. Some marginalized workers find it difficult to get an equal footing in salary when their new employer asks what they earned in their last job then pays them only slightly more than that. This practice perpetuates inequality. So, Freddie Mac has come up with a solution. They decided not to ask candidates what they earned in their previous job, and instead they simply pay the new employee the going rate for the position. That’s fair. That’s a solution. 

There is currently a shortage of four million homes in the U.S. - there’s a need and a desire but not the availability in new construction. Part of the solution might include changes to zoning or land use or even changes to our paradigm of what housing looks like (think container homes). Stretching our thinking focuses on the solution, not the program. So, what’s the solution for people who want to buy real estate now before those zoning changes happen? In an exclusive presentation for EXIT Realty earlier this year, Brian Buffini said, “There’s not a shortage of inventory, there’s a shortage of listed inventory.” So, as a professional, tuned-in real estate agent, it’s about going out and having the right conversations with homeowners whose properties aren’t listed so you can be the solution for your buyer clients.  

So, where to start? In my experience, the best way to identify and work on solutions is to ask effective, open-ended questions. In what way can I be part of the solution for X? In what way can I contribute? How can I turn this disconnect into a connection? How can I help that person see their own potential? Ask yourself these questions before you go to bed at night, so your subconscious mind has the opportunity to work on them while you’re asleep. Before EXIT Realty was born, our Founder and Chairman, Steve Morris, deeply understood the challenges facing the real estate industry, but rather than focusing on them, he asked himself, what if it didn’t have to be that way, and focused on the solutions instead. What if Steve Jobs hadn’t asked himself how he could make tools for the mind that advanced humankind? There is a solution for every problem, and asking effective questions plants the seeds from which those solutions can grow. 

Our society and our industry are polarized on so many issues and the media capitalizes on our polarization to focus on the problems as clickbait. The problems and discord can seem overwhelming and paralyzing.  Helen Keller once said, “I am only one, but still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”  Focusing on the solution is the something that you can do.