High-Impact Entrepreneurship

Leadership and success: An interview with John Assaraf

By Alex Pirouz (reprinted from Under30CEO).

As a teenager, John was involved with a negative ‘street’ lifestyle that could’ve easily led to jail or the morgue. In his quest to overcome these challenges, live a purposeful life and become a millionaire he studied brain science and quantum physics – as they relate to achieving success in business and life.

Through consistent focus and application of what he learnt he was featured as one of the experts in the hit film and book The Secret. He is a New York best-selling author and has landed appearances on Larry King Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Anderson Cooper 360°, and many other major media outlets.

In the last 20 years he has built several multimillion dollar businesses, and is the founder of REMAX Indiana, a company that has 1,500 sales associates, who collectively generate $4.5 billion a year in sales.

We interviewed John to find out the importance of leadership within an organization.

Having started and built many multimillion-dollar and a billion-dollar business, how important was it to have the right leadership within your organization?

Having the right leadership is absolutely critical, it is no different to setting off on a military mission. You can have the biggest mission, vision or goal but unless you have the right people to buy into the mission and others who have the specific skills to execute the strategies and tactics you can never really achieve the goal.

People will work 8 hours a day for a job that they love, 12 hours a day for a boss they love and 24 hours for a mission that they buy into.

They say anyone can become a leader. Is it really possible? Aren’t their people who have traits that make them unfit to be a leader?

I personally think that in order to be a leader you must first have the propensity and desire to be a leader. Leadership to me is being able to bring out the best in other people. It’s not telling people what to do its showing people and giving them the opportunity to get it done, this is a skill that as a leader you have or you don’t.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

Empathy and compassion; if you can empathise with another person’s emotions and situation and be compassionate in the way you lead, then that to me is most important.

What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?

Not paying the right people what they are worth.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Hiring and keeping great talent. The market place is very competitive and companies have realised that the biggest assets within a company is human capital, not their product or service. So to find the right people, train them, give them the right roles and responsibilities and compensate them fairly is the biggest challenge most leaders face today.

What are the dangers of having the wrong leaders within an organization?

If you have the wrong people executing the right strategy you will never succeed.

Can someone be a good leader, but not a good manager? Which is better for a company?

I happen to be one of those people, I am a very good leader but not a very good manager. I don’t like to manage processes and systems, I like to inspire and lead people with my vision, behaviours and work ethic. One of the things to recognise is to know what your core strengths, competencies and unique abilities are so you know what type of leader you are.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

I read at least a book a week, go to at least four events per year and hire a private consultant to help me grow and develop into a more skilled and powerful individual.

What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

If you are going into a leadership role for the first time, the first thing you must understand is that people do want to be lead. People don’t want to be lead in a way that causes them to feel badly about themselves, they want to be lead in a way that will enable them to grow, love their role and take full responsibility for their actions and results.

People don’t mind being told when they don’t do something right, but don’t challenge who they are as a person, challenge the job that they did and show them that they are capable of doing better.

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