Look for the Helpers
(Photo : Look for the Helpers)

"Who's got a success story for me this week? Who's had a win?" Kris Lindahl begins on his weekly all-company Zoom call. There's a very brief silence as a few members of his team of over a hundred real estate agents unmute themselves. And then, not only is there a shower of great success stories, but other agents are quick to ask questions about how to achieve such an easy victory in, for example, a dicey multiple offer situation themselves. Mentorship follows, both from Lindahl, but from all of his more senior agents. 

A lot of brokerages have taken to referring to themselves as a team, but Lindahl has made it common practice within Kris Lindahl Real Estate, which was founded in Minnesota in 2018, and in just two short years rose to become one of the largest independent brokerages in the United States, surpassing $1 billion in sales, and expanding throughout Wisconsin and Colorado. With such rapid growth, and massive commissions for those who succeed, it would be easy for this brokerage to slowly slip into a comfortable, toxic funk of competitiveness, backstabbing and secrecy. But it doesn't. In fact, it is attracting realtors from other brokerages and high performing retail salespeople who are tired of their amazing people skills and helpful nature being reserved for clients only. 

The results are hard to argue with. Within his team, if you're starting out, you don't have to wait five or ten years before you really start to understand the intricacies of the real estate business. Ask a question, and an abundance of experienced agents will take time out of their day to answer it. Some of his first year agents quickly become his top performers. And with such quick success, there's little reason for them to give up within a year of getting their license, like many beginning realtors are prone to do. 

Lindahl also has made a point of recruiting people with kind hearts and a positive mindset, and offers his own Kris Lindahl Real Estate Scholarship to those who show determination and promise. He states, "I want the right people, and I'm happy to invest in them with the tools they'll need to be successful. I'd rather do it that way than hire people who have their license, but may not represent my company well, or embrace our culture of generosity and teamwork." 

Through that process, he does better with his "Mighty Ducks" team of some tenured and some budding agents than most of his local rivals, and has reinforced a culture that is almost counterintuitive to a business that's known for competitiveness. Lindahl makes a point of reinforcing that by rewarding generous behavior verbally, and also financially. An agent who takes the time to help out a newer one will get thanked on the team's communication feed, and a name that pops up the most in a month, say, might receive a tidy little bonus, or perhaps their own billboard to drum up more clients, all paid for by the company. It's quite purposeful. Lindahl keeps an eye out for the helpers, and is always looking for ways to reward them. 

One would think that the more senior agents would be bothered by some of the shockingly quick success of their newer cohorts. It isn't rare at all for an agent just a few months in to claim the top slot for sales, volume or new client conversion. But senior agents don't seem to be bothered. On the contrary, they are over the moon to be sharing exactly how they go about getting papers signed, or calls answered, or offers accepted. After all, they're people too, and at the end of the day, it's flattering and rewarding just to be asked. It's rewarding to be able to share hard-won knowledge, and it's rewarding and humanizing to feel respected for it. 

It may be a strange shift, but Lindahl is getting used to not having to work quite so hard to recruit. The right people are starting to find him. Perhaps not surprisingly, some of them are the already-experienced agents that have been working for the competition for years. And every now and then, there's a newer recruit who strays, only to find the harsh reality of other so-called team environments, and asks to come back. "Everyone said that this dynamic wouldn't work, and that the scholarship wouldn't work," Lindahl concludes. "And in a way it's so basic, but just creating an environment where support is rewarded makes such a huge difference for people. Most of my team would rather work somewhere where they feel respected and valued for their knowledge as well as their numbers."  

What a concept. It's almost like sales people are people too. 

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