When you’re setting out to disrupt an industry and lead a fast growing business, it’s important to stay focused on your goals and have the skills to manage stress and quieten your mind in order to be creative and achieve success.
Yoga, mindfulness and meditation are all practices that have been around for thousands of years. As a certified yoga teacher who practices mindfulness and meditation on a daily basis, I take an alternative approach to the way that I lead my team and this has led us to achieve incredible results as a business.
Here are three alternative leadership methods to help expand your mind, change your perspective and ultimately benefit you as a leader.
Look at challenges as opportunities
As a general rule, I like challenges. At Cohen Handler we prefer not to remove obstacles as it gives us a chance to question what we are doing and think outside the box to solve issues.
My co-founder Simon Cohen and I faced numerous challenges since building our business from the ground up. It often felt like the odds were stacked against us. In an industry that is heavily imbalanced, with far more agents representing the seller rather than the buyer in Australia, we certainly faced an uphill battle. It’s always difficult breaking into an industry, but during a time where most people didn’t even know that buyers’ agents even existed paired with the fact that we started the company in a bedroom with only $5000, it felt next to impossible!
We were faced with a lot of cynicism and even had to convince our friends and family that we were onto something promising. However from this, we took away so many valuable learnings, like the importance of listening to your intuition, persevering, being relentless and having a solid work ethic to press through negativity and focus on what we believed in – our business.
As we grew, we faced a slightly different challenge which is still very important for both of us – building and then maintaining a good company culture. Now that we have six offices across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, it can be difficult to sustain a supportive and collaborative environment across teams. But we saw this as an opportunity to implement innovative technologies to keep teams communicating and collaborating. We’ve also taken great care to ingrain our culture as a core part of our business values and because of this, we have overcome the challenge and transform it around into an asset of the business!
Don’t listen to every piece of advice you receive but rather trust your gut
Sometimes, particularly when you’re venturing out on your own, it can be hard to know what to do or where to begin – so it’s common to reach out for advice. But personally this is where I believe many leaders can make mistakes. There are too many people out there who are willing to help out and may think they know better than you, but it’s crucial to follow your instincts when it comes to building a business you believe in.
The best advice I received was to always be receptive to any form of feedback you receive – good or bad – and always try and take away a key learning if relevant. Disrupting the real estate industry in Australia was no easy task, so Simon and I tried to be as receptive as possible from the start. If we had ignored what our staff were saying, or the trends in the industry, it would have been very detrimental to our business. Having a flat structure and ‘open communication’ policy gives you the opportunity to receive that 360 degree feedback. This has greatly benefitted Cohen Handler, and as a whole it is a very valuable piece of advice to live by.
The worst advice I ever received was that we were moving too fast and should slow down the expansion of our business into new regions. Cohen Handler was growing so quickly, and many people advised against us opening so many branches across the east coast in a short period of time. I didn’t agree. While some in this situation would play it safe, Simon and I saw such a demand for buyers’ agents that we knew we were onto something. However, when we expanded into Melbourne we didn’t realise how different the market was to Sydney. It was a challenge at first, but we embraced it, asked the right questions and managed to transfer these new learnings when we expanded into Brisbane later on which has also been a huge success and is maintaining healthy growth. So while it was a bumpy road at first, it made us stronger in the long run and I am glad this was one piece of advice we chose to ignore.
Bring meditation and mindfulness to the forefront
Regular meditation and mindfulness practice can help you become present and give you the headspace to see things clearly. As a business leader, it can be incredibly hard at times not to get emotionally invested, or attached to daily challenges or ‘noise’ – with the sheer volume of work going on around us. Meditation and mindfulness helps you to remain calm under pressure and to gain perspective of what really matters – ultimately helping you live a more fulfilling life.
I generate the best business ideas after I meditate. In order to brainstorm efficiently, it’s important that I am in a quiet place and am able to access a calm state of mind. This has helped me in many challenging times. This shouldn’t be so unusual amongst leaders.
To be an effective leader you need to be resilient enough to take risks and make decisions. Trusting your instinct, looking at the positive side of a challenge and introducing a little stillness in your life can benefit your leadership ability and ultimately the success of your business.