Leading in Tough Times: Mark E. Rose, Avison Young

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 Mark E. Rose, CEO and chairman, Avison Young.

Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about leading in a challenging environment?

A: After nearly four decades in real estate, I’ve learned that the cycles of economic uncertainty can bring about great opportunity, especially for the strategic investors who are innovative, experienced, and well-capitalized. It’s important to understand the macro and micro issues, to build strategies that are realistic, and to be patient and empathetic. Jumping to conclusions or accepting the narratives of others are a sure-fire way to exacerbate the challenges. Put in the hard work, do the research, ask questions of experts, and listen to multiple, diverse opinions before reaching a conclusion that then becomes the foundation of short-term actions and strategic plans. And remember, when people are involved, bring everyone along with you as you analyze the situation and discuss the best path forward. Your team will usually “follow you up the hill” if you are transparent, open, and simply tackle the challenge.

Q: What’s the most valuable leadership advice you’ve ever been given?

A: Listen more than you speak – listening is the most valuable skillset you can have. Your clients, your teams, your advisors and your confidants have constructive input and perspective that formulate your own opinions. It’s okay to challenge and, more importantly, to allow your thoughts to be challenged. You will not only have the benefit of well-rounded, diverse thoughts, but you empower your leaders and your teams – creating an environment of trust and transparency.          

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

A: Without a doubt, the best business decision I’ve ever made was putting my team and clients ahead of myself. Early in my career, I was faced with an opportunity to either take a significant payment to join a company as an individual or receive nothing and take my people with me. The choice was easy – I put my people first. The decision to preserve the team and forego a substantial personal financial gain established trust and culture, and it has paid dividends ever since.

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