Karina Loken: Reflections On Authentic Leadership

Karina Loken|Published: Jan. 15 2020

As the founder/president of The Loken Group (TLG) and operating principal of KW Platinum, I have learned being an effective leader isn’t about copying what others are doing, it is about being authentic and building relationships with your people. Every leader has something of value to contribute, and not until we are honest about who we are and what we bring to the table can we truly be the leader we were born to be. 

While “being yourself” sounds so simple, I know how uncomfortable and challenging it can be. Along my own journey, I discovered these four things helped me be the best leader I know how to be and just maybe, they might spark something in you too.

Vulnerability

Before you can accept and embrace who you are, you have to be vulnerable

As leaders, we think we have to know and do it all. Wrong. I combated this dangerous mindset by understanding and accepting what I don’t know and committing to either asking for help or learning it.

At a KW event, I once heard a speaker say, “If you are not learning, you are dying.” When you pretend you know everything, you are not learning, and honestly, you are not leading either.

While “being yourself” sounds so simple, I know how uncomfortable and challenging it can be.

Trying to do it all on your own and not asking for help is selfish leadership because you are putting your ego before your people’s needs. You can’t show up and act like you have all the answers because that sends the message to your team that they should also always know all the answers. Being vulnerable and admitting you can’t do it all and you don’t know it all will create a stronger team relationship and allow everyone to help each other.

Authenticity

You won’t be for everyone and that’s okay

Being authentic means being yourself, not copying someone else. As a co-leader with my husband Lance at TLG, I struggled when I ignored my own talents and tried mirroring his. Yes, he’s wildly smart and so talented in business, but he does it in a way that works for him. I am not him. Once I was true to myself, I was better able to lead myself and our team. That’s because when you try to be someone you are not, you rob people of what you have to offer – and we all have something unique to offer.

I spent years trying to master skills that were never my strengths. Career Visioning along with other coaches and trainings at Keller Williams helped me recognize the unique talents I possessed and empowered me to tap into them. Once I knew my strengths, I owned them and delegated the rest.

Leverage

We can always make an extra dollar, but we can’t make an extra minute

I finally learned leverage will get me a lot farther (faster) in leadership. As Gary Keller says, “Your success will not be measured by how much you get done; it will be measured by how much you get done through other people.” Attempting to do it all on your own will only get you a fraction of what you want.

When you try to be someone you are not, you rob people of what you have to offer – and we all have something unique to offer.

With the guidance of our KW MAPS Coach, at the end of our first year in business, Lance and I took a StrengthsFinder assessment and identified our natural talents and how they would yield the highest results. It turned out that Lance and I actually ended up almost completely changing roles. We weren’t working to our strengths. We made the switch, leveraged what neither of us should be doing, and set a goal to have 60 coming-on-market, active, or pending listings in six months and we did it, together!

Accountability

I wouldn’t be where I am today without some help along the way

I am so blessed being in business with Keller Williams. The opportunities I have had to learn from our KW leaders and participate in Masterminds has proven to be invaluable. I would not be where I am today if I attempted to do it all alone. And the best way to honor those who helped us is to pour it all into our people and help them the same way.

Relationship building entails having expectations sealed with a pledge and accountability.  About a year and half ago, our market center leadership team made a pledge to our Associate Leadership Council (ALC) and agents. We put into writing not only how we will show up for our agents, but how they are expected to show up for their own success. And show up did they ever! This year, we’ve created a 30-60-90 with action steps to align our mutual commitments and help agents on an immediate path to success!

How will you show up as a leader for your people?

Every day presents us with a new opportunity to make an impact on others.

About Karina

Karina Loken is the founder and president of The Loken Group as well the owner/operating principal of the KW Platinum market center in Houston, Texas. After starting her real estate career in 2008 as an individual agent and then interim team leader, Karina and her husband, Lance, established The Loken Group in January 2011. Last year, the group’s 81 members closed an impressive 2,450 units for $627 million in volume.

Seven years after launching The Loken Group, Karina and Lance became the proud owners of the KW Platinum market center in Houston where Karina leads the vision and helps agents and leaders alike achieve their goals. Last year alone, KW Platinum experienced a 170% increase in agent profit year over year and nearly a 360% increase in profit share year over year.

As a former elementary school teacher, Karina’s roots are deeply seeded in education and she has the sincere passion to teach people how to be their authentic, personal best and pay it forward for others to grow. In her personal time, Karina enjoys exercising, traveling, and supporting her daughters in their art and barrel-racing activities.

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