Damian McKinney of McKinney Advisory Group began his real estate career from the perspective of the Client and his fiduciary responsibility to serve that Client’s needs. Only Recently, Damian discovered the model of Servant Leadership for his company which aided him in organizing the Corporate Social Responsibility Program and as a result, benefited the staff by giving a framework for company culture.
Damian had the unique opportunity to meet with Art Barter, president of Datron and founder of the Servant Leadership Institute. Damian knew that this felt this model was applicable to his company as well. The theory is that the staff feels empowered in leadership as well as corporate giving. Therefore your employees are motivated making for a better work environment, happier clients, and thus a more profitable company.
Servant Leadership is more than just giving a percentage of your profits to local charities; it is also about developing your company and people into leaders who care for each other. What Damian and his wife, Lori, (CFO for McKinney Advisory) did not realize initially is that the practice of Servant Leadership requires a hands-on approach and leadership role in addition to just running a company.
McKinney Advisory Group is a national commercial real estate company. Their focus is on advising clients and creating leverage in the market place for corporate America. Many of the McKinney clients have relationships with Damian dating back a decade or more. These relationships are built on a mutual trust and understanding between the advisor and Client. The McKinney Advisory approach to creating relationships with clients is similar to the Servant Leadership model with training and empowering those in your organization to be agents of change.
The initial attraction to Servant Leadership was a fascination with the statistics on profitability and providing for others. Now the practicum of daily Servant Leadership based decisions guide this husband and wife team in their attempts to create a supportive and empowering workplace. Moving away from the pure financial understanding, Servant Leadership is now about giving time and creating a team. Recently, McKinney Advisory Group heard that Father Joe’s Village, downtown San Diego, needed a facelift for their gardening boxes. Rather than just donate the funds to make that happen they came together as a team and gathered supplies for a day of building and planting. It was plenty of physical labor, yet the difference between a check and a day of team building was instrumental in the team atmosphere at the office. As long as there is another project or a monthly dinner being made for the teens at Stand Up, Oceanside, the office keeps a buzz of positivity and cooperation.
The culture in the office is reversing from the typical “top-down” model to the CEO supporting the rest of the staff. Typically a CEO is behind closed doors; however, Damian has also taken the challenge on and given his undivided time at their disposal. To everyone’s surprise Damian announced that he would give each broker 9 hours of his time monthly. Scheduling carefully is critical of course but each broker can use Damian’s time for lunch meetings, cold calls, or training. Where else does the CEO go on cold calls and walk the streets with his team?
Hiring is a key part of keeping the culture at a Servant Leadership company. The culture of the company is so delicate that the hiring process for a servant lead company is a little like going on multiple blind dates, you need to learn everything you can about a person, their true character, how they feel about working on a team. At McKinney, prospective hires are all given a book on Servant Leadership by Tony Baron. If by the time they come back for a second interview they have read it cover to cover, they have a foot in the door. “Based on their reaction to giving them ‘homework’ and then their reaction to the actual book I can tell if they would fit in our company” says Damian. “We serve our clients and do a lot of added services without fees, then we serve our community, and we work as a team, if that doesn’t scare you away, rather excites you than you can begin to understand our culture.” McKinney Advisory Group looks for busy people, those that are volunteering each week, going above and beyond for a Client, friends, and their community.
The charitable contributions part of Servant Leadership is easy to understand. For donating funds they have created a Corporate Social Responsibility Program and look for partnership organizations making a difference in the community. Taking the donation element to another level, this year McKinney Advisory Group held an exclusive charity mixer with top San Diego business leaders and four local charities. McKinney donated $12,000 between the four charities and assisted in creating partnerships between local CEO’s of top companies as well as non-profits. The real value-add went beyond the check to the personal connections people made between the leaders of San Diego’s business and philanthropic communities.
McKinney Advisory Group will continue their efforts of Servant Leadership outside the company through the CSR giving and inside the company with promoting leadership and team building. It is unclear where the Servant Leadership will take them next but as it evolves they will explore the room for growth and continue to promote the brand that stands for giving back, serving, teamwork, and growth.