Monday, August 15, 2022 Aug 15, 2022
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CRE Opinion

Brooke Armstrong: An Ode to Working in the Office Again and Being Around People

The CBRE market leader says nothing beats the connections you can make in person.
By |
Brooke Armstrong

When I was approached last year to lead CBRE’s Dallas-Fort Worth Advisory Services business, I took time to reflect on my career (and life). I had a great career going where I was, however, the opportunity to lead in this capacity was too good to pass up, and I decided to take a leap of faith in my career.

It can be scary to make a big change, especially when you are coming from such a supportive and tight-knit group. This was a moment where I really realized the importance of having a supportive work-family environment.  Our DFW real estate community is unique in the sense that even when we’re competing against each other, we’re also quick to celebrate everybody’s wins and successes, both personally and professionally.

When I look back at the strong leadership and mentorship opportunities I’ve had in my career, it inspired me to help define what leadership means and put into action how our team can make a difference.  Our world has changed in the past few years, and the expectations of a leader are different than what they were. What I’ve realized is that all strong relationships and leadership roles start with a strong sense of community. 

The first step for me in my new role was defining what community means to me. A community has to be more than just a physical place where people come into work every day. The sense of community that I’ve been lucky enough to help cultivate over the years has come from impromptu office happy hours, luring people in to talk to me with a candy bar, or having a good laugh over a bad meeting and not taking it too seriously.

Time and time again, we’ve seen our best results and biggest wins as a business when we work together collaboratively. Sure, work can be done over email if it’s necessary, but ten out of ten times, it’s quicker to just walk over to someone’s desk to get a response or to set up in a conference room to work through a client issue. I recently heard from an architecture firm that while they had record-setting revenue in 2020, they actually lost money because of errors caused by working virtually instead of collaborating in person.

Aside from actual business issues, being among your people is just… better. Speaking from personal experience, collaborating via email and Zoom was a bit isolating. I love being around my people and getting to hear people across the floor celebrating a big win or cheering when they find out a team member was promoted.

Being part of these interactions is really the foundation of a strong community. There are other aspects to being a leader that are incredibly important, as well.  Fortunately, I got to learn from the GOAT (greatest of all time) of leaders, Roger Staubach, early in my career. Integrity, empathy, fairness, and valuing diverse people and backgrounds are the pillars of my personal leadership philosophy. But none of it means anything without community.

Brooke Armstrong is CBRE’s president of advisory services for Dallas-Fort Worth.

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