“OK, so I’m the office leader. Now what do I do?”

Posted by Bob Albanese

“Rule #13 – When put in charge…take charge”

One thing that agents want to have is a decisive leader. Yes, they want us to hear ‘both sides of the story’ and we must be always be good listeners, but when all is said and done a decision must be sometimes be made solely by the leader. This is what General Norman Schwarzkopf calls Rule #13…”When put in charge, take charge.”

One example that comes to mind is when two agents in my office were warring over a customer that entered into a contract of sale. I sat them down and after much time, neither person would give up any ground at all. So I told them to “go into the conference room like two adults and work it out.” Then I added that if they were unable to come to a decision I would make one. In all likelihood, I told them, neither of them would be happy with the outcome. 

One hour later they came to me with a reasonable decision. Take it for what it’s worth.



“Rule #14”

Leaders grapple with the effects of our decisions upon certain individuals, specific transactions and in our personal lives. I would propose to you Schwarzkopf’s Rule #14… “When asked to make a decision…do the right thing.”

Nothing more needs to be said. All of the guidelines ever written about ethics, morals and fairness are wrapped up in the ten words of Rule #14.


‘Own’ the results

Once you have made a key decision make sure that your people are aware that it came from you. One good example of this can be seen when redirecting agents out of the office. One suggestion would be to terminate the person late in the afternoon on the day before your office meeting, or early on the morning of the meeting. Then, as part of the meeting, announce that ‘so and so’ is no longer with the company. A simple statement like “Judy and I have met several times and I have decided that we no longer have a meeting of the minds on key business issues… so we wish Judy well in all of her future endeavors”… would accomplish the goal very nicely.

In doing this, critical points have been made although none of them were stated verbally. The message that your agents just heard includes all of the following. Again, you have not actually ‘said’ any of these things, but the sales agents ‘heard:’


  1. The manager owns and takes responsibility for making decisions
  2. The manager has standards for the office and those standards are upheld
  3. My manager cares enough to deal with each person individually
  4. My manager communicates key decisions with us in a timely manner
  5. The manager treats others with dignity (“meeting of the minds…we wish Judy well…”)
  6. My position here in the office is contingent upon performance (think about it)
  7. I should understand that the manager seriously wants to coach me (think about it)
  8. A myriad of other non-spoken critical points too numerous to list, but you get the idea.



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