How to Build a Team When Life Knocks You Off Balance

Ada Ciuca| January 14, 2021

CJ Dubois-Cote

The proud leader of a small team, CJ Dubois-Cote is driven, gritty, and growth oriented – but she wouldn’t call herself managerial. “Before joining Keller Williams Realty, I had never managed people before, and I did not think I had the personality type for it. But, through the tools and systems made available to me, I was able to build a productive small team that I look forward to growing in 2021.”

Dubois-Cote’s business, which doubled in production volume since joining Keller Williams in 2014, did not run without its own set of challenges. In August of 2019, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent two Lumpectomy surgeries and Mammosite Radiation. Around the same time, she welcomed her first grandchild. With many life-changing events taking place in her personal life, Dubois-Cote’s business took a backseat … right as two new buyer’s agents had joined her team. “I simply did not have the ability to focus on the business and provide what those agents needed from me at the time,” she says of the experience.

The timing of events ultimately led to the two new agents leaving, but in true leadership fashion, Dubois-Cote is laser-focused on achieving her growth goals after being knocked off-balance. In moving forward, she taps into the support of her team, an unshakeable foundation composed of one strong admin and two buyer’s agents that have been by her side since originally scaling her business. Here, she shares what she’s learned about building a core team that will be great partners in business – through thick and thin. 

Find the initial point of leverage. 

When Dubois-Cote joined Keller Williams, she already had an action plan in mind: scaling a team. “As a solo agent, you can only do so much on your own. I found myself doing administrative work 80% of the time, and decided it was time to pay someone to do that work in order for me to focus on my clients,” she says. At KW, Dubois-Cote leveraged the MREA Organizational Model – a tool that helps agents scale their business once they have achieved everything they are able to solo. 

Hiring administrative help is one key area of the Organizational Model. By making that initial hire, and making two agent hires down the line, Dubois was able to dedicate more time to the numbers. Today, Dubois-Cote continues to reference the Organizational Model as she works toward her goal of two additional buyer’s agent hires and one additional admin hire.

The Three Key Areas of the Organizational Model: 

  1. When doing all you can do, hire administrative help.
  2. Hire talent.
  3. Train and consult.

Become self-aware and use it to your advantage.

Early on during her time at Keller Williams, Dubois-Cote realized that in order to properly serve others, she needed to become familiar with herself and truly see her strengths and opportunities for growth. Anyone can benefit from gaining a deeper understanding of their personality type, strengths, areas of improvement, and the types of people with whom they can interact with in ways that complement each other. Assessments such as the Myers-Briggs, the enneagram test, or KW’s very own Keller Personality Assessment (KPA) can offer valuable insights. 

Related reading: Outfront ‘Leverage’ Library

By digging deeper into her own personality, Dubois-Cote discovered that she could benefit from building out her soft leadership skills. In the process, she began actively showing appreciation toward her agents through small attentions and connecting on a personal level – actions she was never against, but did not initially recognize a need for as she never found them to be necessary in her own life.  

“I have a very direct communication and leadership style, and realized early on that I needed to learn some soft skills if I was going to build a successful team,” she shares. “I’m very results oriented and had to create a more harmonious and amicable work environment.” 

In addition, Dubois-Cote put her personality knowledge to use when making an administrative hire. When she found out another team in her office was letting their admin go, she jumped at the opportunity to connect for an interview. “I learned that she was once a licensed real estate agent and knew the business, and having come from working with another small team, she was very familiar with our company’s systems,” Dubois-Cote says. “We are also approximately the same age, we are moms, and we related on a personal level.” Shortly after, the admin joined Dubois-Cote’s team, providing the detail-oriented, loyal, and responsible service that are a perfect match for her business. “We’ve been working together for almost three years now and she keeps me in check,” she says. 

Lean into coaching. 

The number one thing leaders can do to spearhead their success is to get themselves and their agents into coaching. “Get plugged into productivity coaching to get some of the basics down,” Dubois-Cote says. “Accountability and understanding the gaps that hold room for improvement in your business are things that a lot of agencies do not teach.” Through KW MAPS Coaching, Dubois-Cote was able to grow as a leader as her coach guided her through her own frustrations and provided tools for managing them. For newer agents, a great first step into coaching is productivity coaching. 

The Interconnectedness of Business and Personal

A key part of how Dubois-Cote shows up as a leader today is a direct result of her personal experiences. “I am who I am today because of what happened in my past life,” she says, referencing her breast cancer diagnosis as well as previous Hodgkin’s Disease. These experiences have molded Dubois-Cote into a more empathetic and compassionate person and leader; qualities that are trickling down into her business. Overall, her perspective and outlook on life have changed. “I learned not to sweat the small stuff,” she says. 

Our hardships mold us into who we are. With each knock, we become more self-aware and develop a stronger strain of resilience. Dubois-Cote’s experiences play an integral role in the way she runs her business. She is able to relate to her agents on a more personal level and provide them the feeling of appreciation they crave. She is able to take the loss of two agents for what it truly was – a matter of timing and circumstance – and recenter on her goals with more strength than ever. 

How are your life experiences helping you achieve success? And what could having access to tried-and-tested tools and systems that can enhance your natural leadership style do for your business? Let us know in the comments section. 

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  • Ann Cianchette says:

    CJ is a blessing to our Market Center, constantly giving back by sharing her skills and knowledge with other agents and by serving on our ALC year after year.

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