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Have a plan. Work the plan. Review the plan. Rinse. Repeat.

It’s a popular business approach that many successful leaders have adopted.

I used to be one of them—but I’ve recently turned a corner and am now working with my team and my customers to more frequently review not just results, but what is driving those results.

The shift creates ample opportunities to respond in real time to changes, from subtle to seismic, that are impacting the business in the short and long term.

Anyone who is familiar with “The Four Disciplines of Execution” knows that much of what we deal with in a day is the “whirlwind”—the maelstrom of “must-get-done-now” that keeps us from focusing on the really big goal.

And it’s no secret that the whirlwind never goes away. Adopting this approach to driving results simply requires you to accept the whirlwind and plan accordingly.

That means identifying the core activities that will move the needle on your metrics. It means examining the process that that leads to results—not waiting 12 months to calculate the result and tying those results to the commitments you made to your drivers.

It also means that keeping your eye on the prize is a near-term focus—not a number you will hope to hit at the end of the year.

Here’s an example for you. In supporting the growth of ERA Real Estate’s franchisees—our customers—we first and foremost look at bottom line growth. The intent is to ensure that our brokers are better off with us than without us.

The end result—the long play—is ensuring that our customers have viable, successful businesses. So what drives growth in our network? We know that the more engaged our companies are with the brand, the more successful they are.

We then focus on increasing engagement by setting goals on the number of face-to-face meetings, phone calls, in-market agent training sessions and participation in brand events.

Looking at lead measures rather than lag measures is scalable to all types of organizations, and a number of ERA brokers are adopting the Four Disciplines of Excellence in their companies,

Gus Grizzard, who runs a multi-market, regional brokerage spanning five counties in Central Florida, said he had a true ‘A-ha!’ moment when he understood the difference between looking forward and looking backward.

“Making that seismic shift was a game changer for me,” he said. “I knew we had a huge opportunity to better manage the business—and our success—if we made this change.”

He engaged his leadership team in identifying the lead measures, as well as their drivers, in order to obtain buy-in throughout the organization, as well as to set expectations of a cadence of accountability. Managers would be responsible for executing on the drivers as they saw fit. For instance, one of the offices knew that open houses drove conversions in that particular market, so that driver became a key focus for that team. Similarly, in order to maximize a personalized digital marketing campaign, each agent had a target of entering in five new contacts each week to build the database and drive business.

“Shifting the focus to future drivers of business rather than looking back in time can be likened to focusing on the seeds you sow instead of the crops you reap,” said Grizzard. “I’m not a farmer, but I love the analogy!”

Tom DeWine, president of ERA Colonial Real Estate in Austin, Texas, also had great results implementing the Four Disciplines of Execution across his company—but he won’t sugarcoat it.

“Ideas are the easy part, but implementation is hard!” he remarked.

Several years ago, the company had been relatively on target in terms of performance, but was still missing the mark, particularly in his relocation division. He learned about the concept of lead measures, and it instantly resonated with him. But he knew he would need to put a lot of effort into communicating the concept to his leadership team. Over the course of seven to eight months, he had weekly calls with his team as they collectively identified the specific lead measures and goals.

Gaining the initial buy-in was critical, but the results were well worth it. The process of creating transparency through the use of highly visible scoreboards not only kept the team on target; it also created a tremendous camaraderie and culture of collaboration as people could see who needed some help in reaching goals. In 2015, that sense of teamwork and the cadence of accountability created by the scoreboards helped lift the company to the highest performance level in their relocation business.

The team took time to celebrate, and, in the process, relaxed a bit.

“Our new culture of execution had created a tremendous momentum that carried the company—for a little while,” admitted DeWine. “When we noticed we were slipping a bit, we had to re-engage and get back on track. It’s like losing weight—you need to sustain the behaviors that created the results.”

Or, as he likes to say, “It’s a lifestyle, not an event.”

At any leadership level, from local brokerage to national franchisor, it is clearly a lifestyle that is making an impact.

Dave Collins is senior vice president of Broker Services at ERA Real Estate.

For more information, please visit www.era.com.

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