Feminine Leadership: Championing Change through Challenge
Have you ever wondered how common female leadership is across industries and why it isn’t as prevalent in some sectors versus others? According to a recent study conducted by Housing Wire, in an industry where most residential real estate and mortgage professionals aren’t women, there is also a staggering inequality in mortgage lending and commercial real estate favoring 70% of men to 30% of women. It doesn’t even show on my radar that I am becoming an agent of change in my industry, but sometimes, it’s those of us who are “in it” who make the impact that is needed to exact a change for the better.
In my experience, I have found success in serving. This is how I conduct business, it is how I champion my clients, and it’s how I push forward through any challenges. I do not, nor have I ever sought out to be a leader. Still, by being truly a concierge and serving my clients in as many capacities as possible, I’ve been able to structure my career to be a facilitator, networker, connector, and expert throughout the mortgage process. Additionally, the way my business has grown forced me to recognize that there are some absolute needs throughout our industry in the form of Feminine Leaders, Entrepreneurs, and Coaches. So as a call to arms and a snarky invitation to my other Women in leadership in this industry, I’d like to share with you some anecdotal evidence that leadership, no matter what industry you are in, is forged in the fires.
My specific story is one of pride. I am, first and foremost, a mother. Second, a fierce and loyal friend, and third a professional - in that order.
When I share this, there is no emotion that I want to evoke in you other than that of motivation. I want you to walk away from this article saying, “I CAN.” Unfortunately, my beautiful, talented, amazing daughter is sick. She has a rare form of cancer called Epithelioid Sarcoma. It’s Stage four, and the outlook isn’t good, so we are at the point where we are savoring absolutely every moment and making sure she achieves everything she has always wanted in short order.
Could I let her enjoy her time and languish or fill herself up with pity? Sure. But that’s not really either of our styles. So I’m pushing her. Not only for her survival but to feel as though she is getting everything she sets out to and that she matters. Because she does. Why would any parent not push their kid? It doesn’t matter how much time we have. It’s how we use it. Because this industry has been how I’ve carved a niche for myself and supported my family, it seemed only natural that I continue to fortify my family’s experience through this medium. She is currently going through the process of buying a home, finding that perfect one, going through the search, navigating title and loan approvals, and I’m acting as her most prominent advocate.
This is example number one of female leadership, and we need more of it. I push her; she pushes me. We support one another and work tirelessly towards a goal because there is always another goal just over the horizon. Then there’s one more thing to work towards, to build upon, and to live for.
The mortgage industry is just a vehicle. I would have been a methodical leader in whatever endeavor I chose. But, instead, I’m a calculated risk-taker and, as such, have been a consistent performer. Here’s what I’ve noticed along my journeys and the facts to back them up so that you, if you are reading this, may either realize that you CAN, or you know a woman who SHOULD.
Women in leadership very rarely apologize for things we shouldn’t be sorry for. Sure, when we screw up, we own it, and we improve. What I’m referring to is if we need clarification, we don’t start the question with “I’m sorry.” Instead, we simply ask for what we need to do our jobs.
The feminine power that we harness is different than a masculine power, and we realize this. Men can be influential leaders by simply walking into a room and being magnanimous. While this is a slight exaggeration, I mean this. When a powerful woman walks into a room, they exude presence, feel comfortable with themselves, and know what they can offer. While this is similar to male confidence, it has a nuanced approach as women are indoctrinated to be meek and timid. To be large and command attention by their presence is something that we as females have been taught from a very young age is inappropriate or unnatural. I’m not saying that to have a commanding presence is to be an extravert (even though I am one!). Instead, it means to show up and permit others to do the same unapologetically. I hope I have instilled this in my children and have worked against the status quo to provide to them solid female grounding.
Another trait that I’ve noticed is that all female leaders I have encountered are feminists. Don’t stop reading. I’m not saying I don’t like gender roles. I personally like a door held open for me, and I am always striving to look better and feel better in my female body. I’m not rushing out to burn a bra just yet. What I’m eluding to is feminism in its original state. Again, it’s permission to be unapologetic. To take up space. Not only take it up but make the world better by being in it. By pushing forward and understanding that my presence as a professional in an under-represented industry and as a female with a specific point of view not only adds value but adds perspective to a process. I may offer an explanation or a second voice that proves useful. I may give a client that much needed vote of confidence that they can do anything and that second voice they need to hear. Sometimes, I add my energy to a meeting, and that can be enough.
As female leaders, we are required to build one another up. We strive to see each other win, and we show up. This leads to my second, maybe not as emotional but no less poignant example. Consistency is key. I know that I can’t be giving 110% every single day. That’s ok. Some days I find myself giving 80%, some I’m on fire giving 199%, and some days I just need a day off like everyone else. What I’ve learned throughout the last few years, though, is that people are forgiving when you are humble, human and when you show up. I have been hosting a happy hour networking event in Fort Lauderdale at some of the hottest spots in town every month, and it’s been building and building and building. Am I fortunate that people see value in these gatherings? Absolutely. But I’ll let you in on a secret. If I weren’t doing it, SOMEONE would. I do it because I tie in the ability to serve and connect with my consistency and ability always to show up.
This subject is so important because not enough people in our industry are talking about it. As a result, it gets brushed to the side. We have many women working IN the industry, but we need more leaders shaping it, injecting their very individual points of view, and joining me in quickly modifying the landscape. So here’s what we can do about it.
Talk about it more. Use our platforms, invite other strong, accomplished women with the potential to make a difference into any conversation to exact change we can.
It understands that our diversities make us stronger. Whether it’s gender, age, race, or cultural background, each point of view brought into a transaction makes it that much stronger.
Understand that you are an agent of change if we transform the mortgage industry. Others will follow. Look at politics right now. Our first female Vice President is serving in the White House currently. It’s time.
Thank you for coming on this journey with me. Thank you for giving me this platform to speak with you on. And Thank you for taking an interest in my stories. If you want to learn more about me or what I do as a real estate concierge, connect with me on LinkedIn, follow my blog, and honor me with your attendance at one of our monthly networking happy hours. November is going to be epic as we enter the Holiday season!
All my best,