As part of my series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen Elmir.
Karen Elmir is the CEO of The Elmir Group under ONE Sotheby’s International Realty. Based in Downtown Miami, Karen specializes in luxury residential real estate and commercial real estate services in Coconut Grove, Brickell, Edgewater, Downtown Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Her passionate team of real estate professionals has sold over $500 million in listings across South Florida’s top neighborhoods and offers an extensive background in real estate, finance, engineering, business development, and marketing. The Elmir Group prides itself on the expertise of its agents, passion for the industry, strong referral network and dedication to serving its clients. The team has found a niche in selling boutique remaining developer inventory and high-end penthouse sales.
With over 13 years of experience, Karen is fluent in English, Spanish and Arabic. She is known for her record-breaking penthouse sales including closing on the $13.2 million triplex penthouse at Brickell Flatiron, which set a new record as Brickell’s most expensive condo sale in the last 10 years, and an $11 million penthouse at One Thousand Museum. Her accolades include being named Top National 30 under 30 by the National Association of Realtors and various top producer designations year after year.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I’ve always had a passion for real estate and knew that was what I wanted to do with my life from a very young age. As soon as I turned 18 I got my real estate license and began my career in the industry. I love that no two days are the same and how much there is to know about real estate. Now, I am CEO of The Elmir Group, a luxury real estate team in Miami, Florida that has sold over $500 million in listings across South Florida’s top neighborhoods.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I got my start in real estate with a Miami-based brokerage and found mentors in some of its leaders: Alicia Cervera and Veronica Cervera Goeseke. They took a chance on me as an 18 year old real estate agent and really showed me the ropes of the industry. Having mentors like these women to guide me so early in my career has been valuable to me as a professional and a person. The wealth of knowledge they passed on to me is something I hope to pass on to future realtors.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
My company’s vision and purpose is to help home buyers find their dream homes. My passion for Miami as a city, the place I have made my home, made me realize I can help others make the city feel special to them too. I’ve seen so many people around me build great legacies around them and this has inspired me to leave my mark through real estate.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
I know every leader has gone through turbulent times amid the pandemic. That has definitely been the most challenging experience I have had as a leader. The most important thing for me was the wellbeing of my team and staying connected with my clients throughout the transition to our new normal. When we were in full quarantine, we started doing video chats to kick off our week and set intentions. We did company virtual happy hours for fun. Now we are working in person again and we are taking the proper precautions and feeling stronger than before.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
I don’t really have a choice to give up. I have such a passion for what I do, I can’t imagine doing anything else. Real estate is my one true passion and is what sustains my drive. Also, my team really inspires me to continue on. When we work together we can accomplish anything.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
The most critical role of a leader during challenging times is taking initiative and spearheading efforts to pivot through the challenges. While we had little control over the pandemic, my team and I worked together to shift how we were selling properties to a fully virtual mode. We had experience with this since we work with many international buyers, but it was still a major transition. Moving quickly to adjust to new circumstances is a big responsibility for leaders.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
Team building and maintaining positive morale within my team has always been a priority to me but it’s more important than ever right now. Before the pandemic our team would grab dinner or go to happy hour after work, so when we weren’t able to do that we transitioned to doing Zoom happy hours to decompress. Leaders can host these kinds of team building activities to help boost morale. I also actively recognize major accomplishments within my team, making sure hard work does not go unnoticed.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
The best way to communicate difficult news is to be direct, honest and timely. Give the news in a direct, yet considerate manner and within a reasonable time frame of when you received the information. That’s the best way to go.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
There’s no way to predict the future so you have to deal with the present. Right now, leaders need to focus on what they are currently doing to set themselves up for success in the future — whatever that may look like. Leaders can set reasonable long term goals to start but must be flexible about the methods to reach those goals.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
One of my favorite quotes is “be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods.” I think this is a great guiding principle for any business owner. Goals are so important to set but sometimes you’re hit with unprecedented situations, like the pandemic, and have to be very flexible about the methods and steps you’re taking to achieve those goals. Flexibility and the ability to pivot is so important.
Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
- Under Communicating — Especially during difficult times it is important to always have a clear line of communication with your employees, clients and partners. An easy way to communicate with your team is to set a standing meeting each week and provide them with updates. For clients, it’s easiest to communicate through email, social media, e-blasts or any other personalized form of communication to make sure they know you are supporting them during this time.
- Setting Unrealistic Goals — Goals should be measurable and attainable for your team to reach. Setting achievable goals during difficult times can help avoid burnout across your team and act as a motivator for success.
- Not Recognizing Room for Growth — Difficult times can shine a light on areas for improvement or new markets for a company to enter. It’s important to take a step back and look at a holistic view of your company to see where there is room to grow.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Reconnect with your network! It’s important to maintain your strong relationships during turbulent times. You should check in with people in your network to say hello, see how they are doing and to catch up if it’s been a while. You never know what can come out of one of those conversations.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Reevaluate Your Goals — Take a look at what you are doing and if your goals fit the current environment.
- Make a Plan — Set new goals if applicable and determine the action steps to reach those goals.
- Work Collaboratively — Make sure you are utilizing each of your team member’s strengths during this time. Have brainstorm sessions, explore new ways of doing things and open the floor for discussion about what can be done differently.
- Support Your Staff — Provide resources for your staff to function efficiently. Supporting your staff is important to combat burnout during uncertain times and makes the work environment overall more enjoyable.
- Reflect & Improve — After doing the first four things listed, give it a few months and reflect on your progress. Reevaluate and refocus your goals if necessary and keep growing through the turbulent times.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Understand that everyone you meet can add value or perspective to your life, you can learn something from everyone you know.” Be kind to everyone. I’ve built my business on relationships and understand everyone has a purpose and can help you reach your goals.
How can our readers further follow your work?
You can follow me on Instagram at @TheElmirGroup or by visiting my website, www.elmirgroup.com.