Leading Into the Future: A Purposeful Transition

By Zoe Eisenberg – Reposted from RisMedia

When a 30-year-old company thinks about the future, it’s always important to reflect on the past. For ERA Colonial Real Estate, based in Harker Heights, Texas, that process involved a series of conversations between father and son.

Dennis DeWine founded the firm in 1987 and worked tirelessly to build his business.

His son, Tom DeWine, started his career in medical sales and marketing and was doing very well when Dennis made him an interesting offer.

“When my dad asked me to not only join the company, but to eventually lead it, I had to think long and hard about that,” says Tom.

But he leveraged his business acumen and applied his experience to help bring the firm to the next level. When Dennis started thinking about moving on to the next phase of his life—retirement—he and Tom took a very thoughtful and purposeful path to establishing Tom as the successor. With the help of ERA Real Estate, Tom engaged in a number of programs and initiatives that brought his leadership knowledge to the next level, making him more than a legacy choice.

As a member of ERA’s National Advisory Council, Tom participated in high-level strategy sessions with ERA colleagues and brand leadership to set the course for ERA’s future—one that best met the needs of ERA companies across the country.

He was also a charter member of ERA’s Young Leaders Network, which was launched in 2012 as a way to bring together ERA professionals showing highly-engaged and collaborative characteristics early in their careers, in an effort to further develop their leadership skills. Members are mostly made up of millennials and Gen Yers who leverage this supportive community to discuss overcoming challenges and formulating business solutions.

The next step in Tom’s leadership development was through the ERA Leadership Academy, a nine-month “master class” in management and accountability.

His leadership studies culminated with a year-long executive leadership program called Ascend.

According to Tom, the five-year journey he embarked upon was essentially a road map to leadership.

“We saw this as a very purposeful transition, rather than a passive one,” says Dennis. “As we prepare for the next generation of leadership of our company, we are also very attuned to the needs of the next generation of agents, as well as buyers and sellers, always looking for new ways to connect and transform the way we do business.”

The ERA Colonial succession story aligns with the overall strategic direction of the ERA brand, which is keenly focused on building a strong leadership bench for the future of the brand and the industry as a whole.

“In creating this deep cohort of up-and-coming entrepreneurial visionaries, we are looking at generational issues across many levels and the cascade of our value proposition from the brand to our brokers, from our brokers to their agents, and from agents to their clients,” says Sue Yannaccone, president and CEO of ERA Real Estate.

Over the past 11 years, Tom has gradually taken on more leadership responsibility and became the primary face of the company as broker and COO. He resolved to leverage all of the ERA brand’s tools at his disposal to create what he calls his “unfair advantage” in the marketplace.

In 2014, eager to apply his leadership learnings and move the company to the next level, he embarked on a company-wide goal-setting and accountability initiative built on the foundations of the Four Disciplines of Execution.

Like many things in life, it wasn’t easy. While the company had great results, Tom didn’t sugarcoat it.

“Ideas are the easy part, but implementation is hard,” he remarks. “On a positive note, our new culture of execution has created a tremendous momentum for the company, and I am excited to lead our team into the future of real estate.”