2013: Leadership & the Digital Age

Cameron Feldhaus and I met via Twitter in this digital age, back in 2012. He had been an avid follower of mine and during the course of our digital introduction, had graduated high school and started college at the University of Miami in Ohio. His motivation and determination with his studies has been extraordinary, and inspiring to say the least. Upon receiving the task to profile someone in his life that exemplified “leadership”, Cameron writes about my work as a real estate agent in Beverly Hills based from his experience watching “Selling L.A.” on HGTV. I couldn’t be more honored by his words that he so graciously sent to me via email, and it’s with his permission that I share his paper with you all.  Leadership is infinitely defined through the differences in opinions, experiences, traits, gender, race and sexualities. The vision of leadership one defines is through the lenses of a unique perspective. The interview I conducted led to an understanding of leadership from the perspective of Steven Aaron. Steven is a broker of record and associate manager at Keller Williams Beverly Hills, was featured multiple times on HGTV’s Selling Los Angeles and founder of Steven Aaron Realtor Group. Steven’s credibility, experiences and knowledge that he obtains led to an interesting interview regarding leadership and professional advice.  

Steven Aaron  

To begin with, leadership is generally defined through the perspectives of oneself. Steven defined leadership as “someone who participates in what they do in a proactive manner. They take on a role that inspires others and leads them through example with passion and a strong sense of self.” Steven’s definition of leadership led to the conclusion that he leads through the transformational and servant leadership theory. Both theories relate to transforming groups, focusing on the followers to motivate them and to lead by example. Leadership is about the followers, morals and ethics that are a part of the definition of those theories. It is interesting to be categorized and labeled. My leadership interests and skills have evolved and grown with the opportunities at Keller Williams BH since I joined that company nearly 8 years ago. KW is a company that supports personal and professional growth.  The influences of a leader shape their values of leadership and motivate them to progress in their field. Steven’s influences were “a process and certain people that have supported me to advance to the next step…the support and confidence are the relationships that have influenced and shaped my values of leadership.” One of the principles of transformational leadership is the value of creating a supportive environment where people can grow and thrive. Leadership is not an individual process but rather a group process whereby individuals work together in-order to foster change and transformation. Moreover, success is a byproduct of leadership and contributes to the leader’s credibility behind his or her work. When asked about his biggest success and what he could have done differently, he mentioned “interpersonal growth is a part of success, my transactions are a byproduct. There are two- folds being in leadership, it moves you outside your comfort zone and it is a catalyst to challenge your belief systems. In addition, more confidence earlier on and less anxiety would have sped up my growth in leadership.” Furthermore, I realized that the important part of success is not the end-result, it is the process, which leads up to the final-product. Do not work for success, work for interpersonal growth and transforming the lives of others. I have always worked on myself. It is interesting that I chose a career that, in my opinion, in order to be successful you are always having to grow and improve and question your own personal desires. Real estate is a “blue skies” business and you have the opportunity to create a business that reflects your dreams and desires.    

Traits of a leader can determine one’s leadership style and method of developing or leading his or her followers. Steven believes the most important traits of a leader is “to be a great listener, to have as much clarity as possible in the areas where you are meeting and be kind.” With this being stated, Steven exemplifies the traits of a servant and transformational leader according to the theories. Moreover, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform above standards. The idea of listening to clients needs and wants, helping them achieve their goals and lifestyle standards and assisting with the transaction of their home are ideal characteristics of Steven and are justification for why he uses the servant and transformational leadership theories. I have always been a people person. I am a people pleaser. It is critical in todays world, it is all about the perspective of the client/customer. That is why we pay $5 for a cup of coffee, and they make it just the way we want it at Starbucks!

One of the most important life skills to practice is the balance between business and pleasure. Without a balance, one will drain themselves of energy, perform at an all-time-low and take a toll on their success. With that stated, Steven mixes business and pleasure to balance his busy lifestyle “always make sure to take great care of yourself because you cannot function without a balance. Protect your personal time because success comes from your successful efforts to create a balance. Relax, go out and do not overwork yourself.” The most important aspect of the quote is that success is generated from your efforts to create a balance with business and pleasure. Failure to create the balance will cause one to fall to the side and tumble over and off the cliff. Life is short. I am not one of those Realtors that works 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. This business requires so much mental and emotional energy. I would simply burn out.  

In conclusion, leadership is defined through the differences in experiences and traits, which is why everyone’s vision of leadership is unique in its own perspective. Moreover, Steven Aaron exemplified the traits of a transformative and servant leader based upon his interview. On a final note, when asked for advice as an emerging leader he suggests “follow your passion and listen to your gut because that will help you know if you are in the right place. Also, always work on improving yourself, mentally, spiritually and relate it to your career.”  If you are not happy with your work or career, please find another direction. We spend so much time in our life working, it is SO important that you enjoy what you do.