Leading in Tough Times: Carey Heyman, Managing Principal of the Real Estate Industry, CliftonLarsonAllen

Throughout the month of August, Connect CRE is running a series titled “Leading in Tough Times.” We’ve asked leaders around the U.S. and across the commercial real estate spectrum to share their wisdom and discuss lessons learned. In this installment, you’ll hear from Carey Heyman, managing principal of the real estate industry at CliftonLarsonAllen.

Q: What’s the most common mistake leaders make in an inhospitable market? 

A: Panic. When an airplane encounters turbulence, you don’t see the pilot running down the aisle. Leaders have to stay calm and keep their strategy simple by asking, “What is the problem that we are trying to solve?  Who is in charge of what?  How will we measure success?” And when we succeed, we also need to have a plan to celebrate the win and express gratitude to those that made it happen.     

Q: What leadership advice would you like to give your younger self? 

A: To quote Aaron Burr from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, it is important to “talk less and smile more.”  To say it differently, embrace the communication strategy of “three before me.” In my role as leader of CLA’s real estate industry, which has over 400 people in 40-plus locations, I have to be thoughtful and strategic in my approach. It is imperative that I engage and collaborate with stakeholders, listen, and then listen some more, so I can develop a plan and then build accountabilities in the team to execute the plan.

Q: What’s the best decision you’ve ever made as a business leader? 

A: Taking the time to build a network of respected mentors and trusted colleagues. These friends exist both inside and outside the company. They have been there through the good times and the bad. They are proven sounding boards for troubleshooting, go-to-market strategy, professional development, you name it. Leadership can be lonely at times. But, with a core group like I am lucky enough to have, it doesn’t have to be.

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