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7 Questions on Leadership with Adam Hergenrother

Name: Adam Hergenrother

Title: Founder & CEO

Organisation: Adam Hergenrother Companies

ADAM HERGENROTHER is an entrepreneur at heart. He is the Founder & CEO of the thriving organization, Adam Hergenrother Companies, which includes several organizations ranging from a national real estate company to leadership coaching and training. He is passionate about using business to transform lives and believes that when you focus on leading yourself first, the business results will follow. When he's not leading and growing his organizations or working on his inner growth, you can find Adam in the Vermont mountains with his wife, Sarah, and three children, Sienna, Asher, and Madelyn.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Adam's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The three most important jobs as a leader are:

1. Casting the vision.

2. Providing clarity, focus, and direction for the team.

3. Making quality decisions.

What is most challenging is doing this consistently, clearly, and compellingly enough to continue to inspire your current employees and team members, while also casting the net wide enough to attract new like-hearted people to your company.

Consistency over time, persevering with these 3 important parts of the role in the face of uncertainty, and providing the right message to the right people at the right time will set the great leaders apart from the good leaders.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I've always had leadership and entrepreneurship tendencies - even from a young age. From flipping cars and selling tickets to house parties in college, to purchasing real estate, to having a successful real estate career by my mid-20s, I understood how to sell, negotiate, and make things happen by my own efforts and relentless drive.

However, I quickly realized that if I wanted to achieve the levels of success I had envisioned for myself, I would not be able to do it alone.

For the next five years or so, I completely immersed myself in leadership development and training. I studied behavior and neuropsychology. I learned how to strategically and purposefully recruit, hire, and train team members. I learned how to coach and lead employees to their highest potential.

Once I made the mental transition from self-employed/entrepreneur to business owner and leader, I started surrounding myself with top talent, investing into their growth (and my own personal growth), and my companies started to expand exponentially.

Leadership was always a part of who I was. But when I made the decision to become a leader, I knew that no one else was going to want to follow me if I didn't always work on myself. Self-leadership precedes leadership.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I have a very detailed routine. You can see it all here:

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Going back to the 3 most important jobs of a leader. Once you've been doing it consistently for 15 years, you might think you can step back from casting the vision, providing direction, or making high quality decisions each day. But you can't - and that's a good thing! You are the company's leader for a reason and unless you have hired someone to replace you, it is your duty to continue to inspire your team, provide them clear vision and direction for their work, and make the best decisions for the company so that your team and the business continue to thrive.

Leadership is not sexy. You have to make peace with the routine nature of leadership. Consistency will win.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

There have been 3 key books, all written by Michael A. Singer: The Untethered Soul, The Surrender Experiment, and Living Untethered.

When I really started focusing on my leadership journey, I knew that working on my inner growth and personal growth were going to be key habits of my overall leadership success. Singer's books opened my consciousness and gave me language for much of the inner exploration I was doing. I believe that the next generation of business leaders need to be just as concerned with their spiritual growth and inner world as they are with balance sheets and business plans. Conscious leader are the leaders of the future.

Singer's books have since pointed me down a new path of exploration resulting in a new business: The 200% Life, which includes The 200% Life book, The 200% Life podcast, and the Project | U leadership coaching program.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

As young founders and leaders start to become successful and earn more money, they mistakenly increase their lifestyle, often spending all they earn or, worse yet, living above their means. They must make peace with a certain level of income and pay themselves a fixed salary and not just for one year, for five - seven years while they are building their business. Any additional profit will be better spent investing into your business and people, not a Ferrari. It's incredible hard to do, but if young founders and leaders can master this, they are way ahead of the game.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

A few summers ago, I traveled to Austin to teach a leadership course and attend one of Keller Williams’ annual conferences, Mega Camp. Now, I’ve been attending these conferences for about 10 years and often get asked to present on a panel, teach a class, or host a breakout session. I love it. I love sharing what I’ve learned on my entrepreneurial journey (what works and what doesn’t), how our company has grown, how we attract talent, leadership lessons, and failures, personal growth, business structure, etc. One of my greatest joys is learning so that I can share with others and speed up their success.

But this event was a little different this time. I got the usual calls and requests to speak. But so did my team. Yes, many of them have spoken on panels in smaller breakout rooms of 400-500 people, but in 2019, two were on the main stage in front of 10,000 people sharing their expertise. Kind of a surreal moment for me.

Sharing Success in Business

Leaders often talk about this concept of succeeding through others, but what does that really mean? And are we really committed to doing it? It is one of the hardest things to do as a business owner, yet it is what separates self-employed/solopreneurs and entrepreneurs/business owners. If you are still doing the job without a team, then you have just that – a job – not a business. Start adding team members and employees and independent contractors and now you’re cooking. But are you letting them shine or are you holding them back? Are you micromanaging? Are you questioning their decisions? Are you allowing them to fail forward? Are you taking all the credit? Are you empowering them to become leaders in their own right?

These are really valid questions to ask yourself. As a leader of an organization, you must ultimately take responsibility for everything that goes wrong, and take none of the credit when things go right. And why should you? You, the leader, would not have built what you built without the team of people around you. I would not have been able to build my organization to the scale I have without incredibly dedicated people in the company who have treated it like their own.

The Role of Leadership

In turn, my job is to continue to cast a big enough vision to keep them all engaged and motivated, nurture their personal and professional growth, and continue to bring other high performers into the organization. That is how I succeed through others. I create opportunities and then watch who steps up to the challenge. I push them along the way to accomplish things they didn’t even know they were capable of, and I closely watch who pushes and challenges me, all while encouraging personal growth through business success along the way.

Now, back to Austin. As I was watching Erin (Director of Marketing, turned COO, turned President of Hergenrother Realty Group) and Hallie (Listing Assistant, turned Executive Assistant, turned Chief of Staff) on stage, it hit me what a testament to our company this moment was. It was a really blatant representation of just how large my organization had become. It was no longer just about me – Adam Hergenrother Companies was bigger than just Adam. You see, I was supposed to be on the panel that Erin did about online lead generation. During the prep call, the event organizers were asking really great questions – none of which I could answer, except by saying, “I’ll have to get that information from my President.” Instead, why not just have my President share the information – after all, this was her area of expertise and she had earned the right to be on that stage. The same thing happened with Hallie. The team at Keller Williams asked if I wanted to be up on that stage too to talk about our book. I declined. I knew that moment was going to be way outside of Hallie’s comfort zone and I also knew that she could handle it. She didn’t need me up there. It was her opportunity to step out from behind the scenes (and behind the leader) to share about the book we wrote together.

The Opportunity to Succeed Through Others

What does this all mean? It means I had to know when to say no. That wasn’t my opportunity to take. That was Erin’s moment. It also meant that my organization was large enough where I no longer knew all aspects of the business, but had to rely on (and TRUST) the talented individuals in my organization to do their thing. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s the only way to truly succeed through others.

Take a minute to take a look at yourself and the team you have around you. Are you showing up as a leader every day? Are you helping to create and facilitate opportunities for your team so that they can grow? Are you truly succeeding through others? Stop and reflect. What did you discover? What do you need to do differently? Who do you need in your world to take your organization to the next level?

But remember this, it all starts with you.

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