Business LeadershipElite AgentFeature Interviews

Ewan Morton on leadership, teamwork and discipline

Ewan Morton has spent 24 years in the industry which were shaped by some earlier years at IBM.

“When I look at real estate and how we carry on, (most) wouldn’t cut it at IBM,” says Ewan.

Ewan studied an economics degree and completed the graduate trainee program at IBM, which he says was one of the “toughest things I’ve done in my life.”

“They (IBM)  operate at a completely different standard and it was of great use coming into real estate. I learned a lot about people management and alternative leadership. I learned an enormous amount about how they ran that organisation, and some of those things I apply in my business today.

“At IBM there was a certain expectation I had things under control, whether it was time management, my maturity, my ability to use an Excel spreadsheet, my curiosity to learn how things work and get solutions.”

But, Ewan says he cannot judge people as IBM judged him as an employee; although his experience at the company taught him the value of discipline, autonomy and the ability to learn; values which he looks for when hiring today.

Leadership philosophy

“We consider ourselves to have an ‘empowered leadership’ model where people are responsible for outcomes. They are expected to lead themselves, influence others and manage the resources they’ve got to get those outcomes and you’re responsible for that.”

“We find that it takes people a period of time to actually get used to that. People who are natural leaders embrace that pretty easily. You also get people who are not natural leaders or have never been involved in this environment.

“I know that I have a stable family; I went to a good school, I’m lucky.” But Ewan is conscious that many others have not had the same benefit.

“The question I ask myself is: How do I take those people with different backgrounds and find what is good in them and bring that out, and serve in the best interest of themselves and best interest of the business? That journey tends to involve an element of pain as we have to deal with potential issues that are holding them back.”

“My style is to stand with them to help them deal with those issues. If we do that well, we correct issues, and they move onto another level of performance. Everybody benefits and their connection with the business is greater because we have helped them.”

What qualities do you look for when hiring people?

“We look for leadership capacity. We psychometrically test everybody and that gives us an insight into what sort of leader they are. If you come back with a leadership profile, that puts you front of the queue. Salespeople generally have those qualities.

“We are big on looking at past behavior to predict future behavior.”

Ewan also says he would be a bit wary if someone said they wanted to be a million dollar agent in a short time period.

“I would think, they have no idea about what it takes to be real estate agent. Potentially they are not in the right space for learning. I’m looking for people who understand real estate is a long-term game. You don’t become million dollar agent overnight, it takes 5-6 years.”

How to ensure success of team

Ewan says he doesn’t run sales meetings and is not involved with the daily operations of the business on the ground. He focuses on fostering good relationships and personal connections with his team members.

“I’ll ring them on their birthday and anniversary day. I look for reasons to connect, like if someone’s done something good, or likewise if someone is not going well. I try and connect and help them with what’s going on.

“For example, today I had one of these meetings, the person said one thing she found difficult about us is we are so nice! It’s not the first time I’ve heard that. If you are coming from most real estate environments, they are harsh and tough. We try and cut through that, we want 100% engagement, you can only get that if you have trust.

“Our people need to trust the organisation, and we need to trust them.”

Goals for the Morton business

The Morton brand now has seven offices spread across Sydney and the business operates in an employee share scheme.

“Our goal is to be bigger and better. We are a growth business. Our goal is to keep pushing the edge and seeing what we can achieve. Our goal is to get to 10,000 property managements. We get half our business from property managements and 50 per cent from selling. If  property management expands,  sales have to as well.”

Ewan Morton will be speaking at “How to lead a winning team in 2018 on the topic of “How to develop incentives for culture and growth.” For more information and to book tickets visit eliteagent.com.au/win2018.

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Azal Khan

Azal Khan is the in-house features writer for Elite Agent Magazine.
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