Leadership in a New Era

We talk a lot about Millennials. And for good reason. The sizeable Millennial cohort, with its strong preferences and opinions, has had quite an influence on the way we work, live and play.
Editorial Director Suzann D. Silverman
Editorial Director Suzann D. Silverman

We talk a lot about Millennials. And for good reason. The sizeable Millennial cohort, with its strong preferences and opinions, has had quite an influence on the way we work, live and play. A very positive influence, for the most part: Striving to attract and retain them—and balance their preferences against those of the other giant demographic group, the Baby Boomers—has instilled creativity, flexibility and sustainability into commercial properties and the operations and lifestyles that take place within their walls.

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While the real estate industry spends a lot of time focusing on the needs of tenants, though, it’s equally important to consider your own organization. And that goes beyond the need for collaborative space, flexible layouts and break-time amenities. In this increasingly talent-constrained environment, it’s necessary to ensure your corporate culture is one that will attract Millennials—as well as other talent—and inspire them to help your company thrive.

As with office configurations, Millennials are driving a need for change in corporate culture and leadership—defined by their desire for flexibility, attraction to companies that support social issues, and as they grow older, need for stability, loyalty and trustworthiness, according to Deloitte’s most recent survey of the demographic group.

Such change is taking place, though somewhat slowly. Take female representation in the senior ranks. It numbers one in four globally, according to CREW Network research, but the number of companies with no senior-level female representation rose 1 percent last year. Some companies, though, are taking steps to produce what National Multifamily Housing Council General Counsel Betsy Feigin Befus terms “a more inclusive environment where all team members can fully contribute.” One is SVN International Corp., whose president restructured his executive team four years ago to increase gender diversity.

That isn’t the only management change SVN has undertaken. The company has taken big steps to focus on team members’ growth and development in an approach Managing Director Michael Thanasouras described as a shift “from reactive to proactive.”

Recognition of cultural diversity is likewise important for real estate companies, especially as more expand globally. One company addressing this is The Related Group, according to Executive Vice President Carlos Rosso. As the company grows, he has also altered his strategy to delegate to other executives more of the tasks he previously oversaw himself.

But much greater change will be necessary to compete in an increasingly digital world, according to Deloitte’s Steven Bandolik and Rob Dicks, authors of our CFO Corner column “The Human Balance Sheet: What CRE Executives Need to Know.” Such “out-of-the-box thinking”—a necessity being considered by too few companies, they maintain—could include such possibilities as innovative new teaming and compensation structures.

Change starts at the top, and leaders willing to rethink their company management will be most successful in attracting and retaining talent to compete in the new world order.

You’ll find more on this topic in the April 2018 issue of CPE.