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Commercial Real Estate

Intentional Leadership Development is Essential to the Future of the Commercial Real Estate Industry

The president and CEO of The Real Estate Council says executives must adapt and evolve to support the industry's ongoing growth and success in the DFW region.

The commercial real estate industry has long been one of our region’s leading economic drivers, with Dallas-Fort Worth setting the standard for markets nationwide. In fact, according to a recent report by the North Texas Commission, 17 percent of our region’s $534.8 billion economy, the sixth-largest in the country, comes from the real estate industry.

This trend continues today despite numerous economic challenges and the unprecedented impact of the interest rate environment on the capital markets, as well as the office market challenges resulting from the pandemic. 

Although the CRE industry’s role in our region’s continued growth and success has remained consistent, leadership development for our industry has drastically changed. Leaders must be able to solve complex problems and do it in an ever-evolving economic climate, collaborate with and better understand diverse audiences, and foster innovation that spurs change and creates a positive impact for all of North Texas.

To maintain our position at the forefront of the industry nationally, even in the face of sector disruptions and an unstable economy, we must develop astute leaders equipped to embrace and adapt to our region’s diversification and the evolving CRE climate. 

In addition, North Texas’ workforce is rapidly growing and evolving and led the U.S. as the fastest-growing region last year with an 8.1 percent job growth rate, more than double the nation’s average. To retain top talent while attracting new talent and maintaining a strong pipeline of qualified CRE professionals, we must understand who our future leaders are and how best to develop them. 

Leadership development is a continuum—it starts at the beginning of a career, and as the individual progresses, their developmental needs change. For example, although mentoring has always been a significant component of leadership development and is often regarded as most critical at the beginning of one’s career, today, the focus is more on mentoring as an ongoing relationship. Leadership development must include both top-down and bottom-up mentoring as a person’s career evolves, so we all learn new facets of leadership, regardless of our roles and career experience.  

Although the industry certainly draws its share of professionals because of the thrill of helping shape a city’s skyline, today’s workforce also derives immense value from purpose-driven projects. They care about the work that helps people, businesses, communities, cities, and our entire region thrive. Leaders at all stages of their CRE careers must understand our world and how varied viewpoints can impact a project. One of the most meaningful ways to experience this is through community engagement.  

These community engagement opportunities serve three purposes:

  1. They expose commercial real estate professionals at all stages of their careers to key community and industry leaders.
  2. Working alongside fellow industry professionals and community members helps foster a critical sense of emotional intelligence and an open approach to communication and listening.
  3. They allow team members to strengthen and apply their leadership skills through purpose-driven commercial real estate projects.

At The Real Estate Council, the organization I lead, member leadership development has several facets, including exposure for young professionals to senior leaders in the industry, intentional mentorship programs, educational opportunities for young professionals to learn more about the industry from peers and leaders, board and committee experience, and leadership programs like Associate Leadership Council and Leadership Alumni.

But the most impactful leadership experience comes from learning more about the community, particularly communities that are not part of everyone’s daily lives. Through TREC, hundreds of members have the opportunity to engage in the community and provide hands-on support and industry expertise for catalytic projects that transform historically underserved neighborhoods. 

For example, as part of our Associate Leadership Class program, participants select a neighborhood revitalization project that impacts our region’s social, political, and community issues each year. This annual assignment includes developing a proposed project budget and timeline, designing, raising money through in-kind donations, and volunteering onsite to complete the project.

These types of engagements create lasting bonds between our members and community leaders, all while deepening our members’ understanding of how our city works. Similarly, our Young Guns also engage in a project that helps transform an underserved community.   

As our industry, workforce, and region develop, we must evolve as professionals to continue CRE’s rapid growth and success. This includes fostering leadership development opportunities that attract and maintain a strong talent pipeline and engage our future leaders.

Linda McMahon is president and CEO of The Real Estate Council, the state’s largest commercial real estate organization. 


Linda McMahon

Linda McMahon

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Linda McMahon, president and CEO of The Real Estate Council, has been actively engaged in community development initiatives for 20…

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