15,242 Managers Worldwide Agree: These Are the Top 10 Real Estate Management Skills You Need

The authors of Mind Tools for Managers reveal the 10 most important skills a manager should master, based on their recent research study. As real estate leaders, you’re juggling a bunch of balls in the air. You have to recruit, manage, plan strategy and implement the strategy—all while working with sales associates who are independent contractors. In fact,  according to James Manktelow and Julian Birkinshaw, authors of Mind Tools for Managers: 100 Ways to Be a Better Boss (Wiley, April 2018), managers should know between 90 and 120 individual skills. That’s a lot. But thankfully you don’t have to tackle them all at once. Just zero in on the most critical ones and master them first.

Stumped on where to begin? Work on the most crucial skills first—the skills managers worldwide value and recommend. To get you started, here are the highest ranked skills in the survey, presented in descending order.

Skill #1: Building good working relationships with people at all levels.
Recommended by 79.9% of managers surveyed.
The most important management skill, as ranked by our 15,242 managers worldwide, is the ability to build good relationships with people at all levels. Thankfully, in real estate, a relationship-focused industry, building relationships comes naturally for many managers. Regardless, everyone can work on this skill. One approach is to focus on creating high-quality connections, made up of respectful engagement, task enablement and trust-building.

Skill #2: Prioritizing tasks effectively for yourself and your team.
Recommended by 79.5% of managers surveyed.
“All of us have a huge number of things that we want to do or have to do,” says Birkinshaw. “The demands can often seem overwhelming, to us and the members of our team. This is why prioritization is the second most important management skill, as ranked by the participants in our survey. There’s a particularly useful approach to this called the Action Priority Matrix, and every manager needs to know about it!”

Skill #3: Considering many factors, such as opportunities, risks, reactions and ethics, in decision-making.
Recommended by 77.8% of managers surveyed.
We’ve all seen how bad decisions can be when they’re rushed, or when financial criteria are the only ones that are used. This is why it pays to use a formal, structured process to think a problem through thoroughly, including analyzing risk and exploring ethical considerations. The ORAPAPA framework—which stands for Opportunities, Risks, Alternatives and Improvements, Past Experience, Analysis, People, and Alignment and Ethics—is a good example.

Skill #4: Understanding the key principles of good communication.
Recommended by 77.7% of managers surveyed.
“Management is about getting things done by working with people,” says Manktelow. “You can do this only if you communicate effectively. This is where the 7 Cs of Communication—clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete, courteous—can help you get your message through more clearly.”

Skill #5: Understanding the needs of different stakeholders and communicating with them appropriately.
Recommended by 75.8% of managers surveyed.
As you run bigger projects, it becomes increasingly important to manage the many different groups of people who can support or undermine the work you do. This is where it’s important to develop good stakeholder analysis and stakeholder management skills.

Skill #6: Bringing people together to solve problems.
Recommended by 75.0% of managers surveyed.
“It’s often tempting to try to solve problems on your own,” says Birkinshaw. “But it pays to bring together a team of experienced people. Brainstorming is popular for this, but also understand structured problem-solving processes, know how to facilitate meetings well, and manage the sometimes weird group dynamics that can undermine a good team process.”

Skill #7: Developing new ideas through an empathetic understanding of customers’ problems.
Recommended by 74.4% of managers surveyed.
Your sales associates are being reviewed and rated now more than ever. To get top reviews, it’s not enough to provide something adequate customer service. You need to provide something that meets the needs of customers exceptionally well. Approaches like design thinking and ethnographic research can help you develop highly satisfying  customer experiences and help you develop a great “customer journey.”

Skill #8: Understanding and developing your relationship with your customer.
Recommended by 73.6% of managers surveyed.
In real estate, this means understanding both your sales associates and your local market. Designing a website that gives the homebuyer or seller information they need, being active in the community, segmenting your social media and customer database—those are just a few things you can do to learn about your customer.

Skill #9: Building trust within your team.
Recommended by 73.3% of managers surveyed.
When people don’t trust one another in a team, they waste a huge amount of time politicking and covering their own backs. By contrast, people in trusting teams work efficiently and well, and they can deliver wonderful results. To build trust, you need to lead by example, communicate honestly and openly, get to know individuals as people, avoid blame, and discourage behaviors that breach trust.

Skill #10: Developing emotional intelligence.
Recommended by 72.1% of managers surveyed.
“All managers need emotional intelligence to be effective,” says Birkinshaw. “This means having the self-awareness, self-control, motivation, empathy, and social skills needed to behave in a mature, wise, empathetic way with the people around you. Emotionally intelligent managers are a joy to work with, which is why they attract and retain the best people.”

“Even if you already feel like you have some of these skills, know that there is always more to learn, and the results will show in your improved leadership,” concludes Manktelow. “Practice them until they become effortless, and, in time, not only will you perform better, you’ll get better results from your team and stand out as a talented leader within your organization.”

About the Authors:
James Manktelow and Julian Birkinshaw are coauthors of Mind Tools for Managers: 100 Ways to Be a Better Boss (Wiley, April 2018, ISBN: 978-1-119-37447-3, $28.00).

James Manktelow is founder and CEO of MindTools.com. He has written, edited, and contributed to more than 1,000 articles, more than sixty workbooks, and seven books and e-books on management and leadership, including Manage Your Time and Manage Stress.

Julian Birkinshaw is professor of strategy and entrepreneurship, deputy dean for programs, and academic director of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School. He is the author of fourteen books, including Fast/Forward, Becoming a Better Boss, and Reinventing Management.

About the Book:
Mind Tools for Managers: 100 Ways to Be a Better Boss (Wiley, April 2018, ISBN: 978-1-119-37447-3, $28.00) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and direct from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797. For more information, please visit the book’s page on www.wiley.com.