How to be proactive, not reactive, in business and leadership

By Shawn Preuss

We often think of leadership as a role, leading a group of people. We also see leading as having the ability to direct, guide, advise and mentor. Leaders are the “expert” in their industry or profession.

While this is a part of leadership, I would like to offer another perspective. I see leading as a proactive practice that brings balance to the reactivity of business and life. Proactive means being out in front, looking ahead, planning and communicating. When we are proactive, we are naturally leading, whether with ourselves or with others.

We are in a world of constant change, which puts us in reactivity rather than proactivity. If we are not careful, we could end up living our lives as a reaction to everyone and everything around us, including our business! Getting off the hamster wheel of reactivity is challenging, and it can be done, even in real estate. The question remains: How?

This is where self-leadership comes in. I define self-leadership as a proactive way of being that brings alignment between your outer-world actions and your inner-world essence. Why is this important in sales?

Sales can position us to be constantly reacting to fluctuations in the market, to meet our clients’ needs, to drive new business. All this reaction is necessary. We do need to be agile enough to react and shift. However, when we tip the scale from balance to a steady diet of reactivity, we end up confused, overwhelmed, frustrated, discontent, avoidant, resistant or even angry. This is when we most need self-leadership.

These proactive practices will help you reduce reactivity. The more you practice, increasing your self-clarity, the more you’ll be able to effectively lead others.


Communication at our fingertips has increased the noise in our lives. We feel the urge to fill the space. Silence allows us to listen deeply. Allow yourself to turn off the radio in the car as you’re driving and sit in silence. The more you increase silence in your life, the more you support yourself in hearing what your heart may be telling you is important.

Curiosity mindset

As adults, we forget the childlike magic of wondering. Our desire for knowledge supersedes our desire for wonder and exploration. Curiosity opens the space for exploration and creativity. Curiosity brings a balance to “what we know” with “what we can discover and create.” Now, take that curiosity mindset inward and step into observation of self.


We are typically focused outward to our environment, people, places and things we can see. This is our outer landscape. We have an inner landscape, our essence, the thing that drives our outer-world behavior. Becoming your own observer is all about shifting the focus from your outer landscape to your inner landscape. We are observing the many sides of self that show up through our behavior and language as a response to the world around us. The more we shift our focus from other to us, the more power we possess to create change based on what’s important to us. Observation with a curious mindset will lead us to questions.


Have you ever asked yourself a question when you’re trying to remember something … what was the name of the actor who … and then three days later the answer pops into your brain? This is the power of self-inquiry. Your brain never stops working until it finds the answer! What is frustrating me about this? What am I expecting here? What’s important for me in this situation? Getting clear on where you’re coming from and owning that is a powerful practice of self-leadership.

Reflect and change

All the above practices will lead you to self-discovery. Reflecting on your discovery and what you’ve learned about yourself helps you to make choices in alignment with who you are rather than reacting solely to your outer landscape. Sustainable change comes from one’s own self-discovery and desire to live more authentically, rather than reactively.

These proactive practices of self-leadership are easily transferable to leading others through effective communication, resulting in deeper, more collaborative relationships.

Shawn Preuss is a Master Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation. She is an executive coach specializing in leadership and team development. She developed and taught the Life Coaching Certification Program and Workplace Coaching Certificate Program for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Preuss has been coaching individuals, teams and leaders worldwide for 17 years.

3 things to do to take advantage of the shifting market

By Jared James

Unless you’ve been on hiatus for the last six months, you have for sure heard the words “shifting market” more times than you care to count. The problem with this is that it puts the focus on the wrong place. The question is not whether the market is shifting; the real question is how you are shifting in your own business to stay ahead of the market and remain the best option for your consumers moving forward.

Let’s talk about that.

I’m a big believer that there is no such thing as a good market or bad market. There’s just the market you are in and what you do with it. I don’t just run one of the largest coaching and training companies in the industry today; I’m one of those rare breeds that actually sold a lot of real estate before getting into this side of the business, and I can tell you that my best year ever selling was 2008. Not exactly the best time to be selling, according to all reports at the time.

So, here we find ourselves again at a time when the headlines are less than ideal and yet opportunities are everywhere if you know where to look and how to

Here are a couple of tips to help you take advantage of the market we are in while so many of your competitors are just hoping things go OK and waiting to see what happens.

1. Don’t build your business on rented land

Would you build a house on rented land? Of course not. Then why are so many of you building your real estate business on sources that you don’t control? That’s a dangerous game when you consider that any one of them could pull the plug on their leads program and you would be out of luck. Building on rented land has more to do with the intent than it does the source. I’m actually all for pulling business from third-party companies and buying leads or paying referral fees, as long as you understand that the ultimate purpose of that customer is to get them into your database. Your database is only business that you actually own and control and have direct access to whenever you need it. When you understand the lifetime value of a real estate client, and aren’t just looking at them as a one-time sale, you will start to understand that the answer to any market or the next disruptor is sitting right under your nose: it’s your database.

2. Build your content library

Our business has changed, and while none of you got into real estate to be a content creator, that’s what it now takes to be a successful Realtor.
We teach our students that our job every day is to give people in your area the opportunity to KNOW you so that they have a chance to NO you. Most of the people that would have worked with you in the past are not even giving you an at-bat in today’s world, because the first thing they do is go online and decide who to talk to. The agent that answers their questions before they ever even get a chance to meet is more times than not the one they use.

If you aren’t sure what videos belong in your content library, it’s simple … just look at the questions that your clients ask you by text and email, and answer those questions one by one on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. That will be the start you need to get going.

3. It’s time to be a professional again

We just came through a market that was a fool’s gold market for anyone new in the business. That wasn’t a normal market by any standard. We are now entering a market where pros are going to win and winging it won’t cut it anymore. This means that you will actually need to have specific strategies that you follow every day for results. Not sometimes … every day. It will also mean that the words you use will matter again, because, like it or not, we are in sales and the quality of the answers you get will always be determined by the quality of the questions that you ask. So, practice, practice, practice and commit to being a pro.

The coming market should only be scary for those that aren’t prepared, but for the rest of you, get with your coach, come up with your plan for 2023 and then remember what we tell our students every day: consistency is undefeated. It doesn’t matter what you do tomorrow or three days from now. All that matters is what you will still be doing eight months from now if you want to see results and succeed in any market regardless of the conditions around you.

Jared James is an entrepreneur, speaker, coach and author.