Ray White’s focus on leadership keeps it at #1



More than 350 Ray White members gathered on the Gold Coast for the inaugural Leadership Week, as the property giant continues its relentless focus on helping all its business owners grow and develop their teams.

Ray White Head of Performance and Recognition Bianca Denham (pictured above) said that leadership is critical to success.

“There’s only three things that happen naturally in organisations: friction, confusion and underperformance but leadership enables ambition to flourish. We recognise achievements, and have never lost faith in the auction method,” she said.

“Ray White is built on the ambition of all of our members, and there’s definitely no shortcuts to success. Ray White’s market share has now hit 14 per cent, the clear leader at more than double our next competitor.”

Ray White New Zealand executive chairman Carey Smith (pictured above) interviewed the White family, who he has worked for for the last 30 years.

He highlighted the work that Ray White stands for, and the generational change within the family which saw its business established in 1902.

Chairman Brian White said he got such a thrill to see the fourth generation family owned and led business that was still getting stronger.

“It doesn’t happen very often to reach a fourth generation business, it’s very rare and we are stronger every year for 121 years,” he said. 

Brian White (pictured above), AO, took over the company from his father Alan in 1974.

“The impact that leadership provides in business is truly astonishing. Leadership gives members confidence. A ‘born leader’ is a good phrase. We have shown that if you adopt some discipline you can have massive progress as a leader. We know that good businesses have good leadership.” he said.

He explained the scene in 1974 when his father Alan White told him he was leaving. “He had packed his bags, and said, ‘that’s it, I am now leaving’. My mother had just died and he turned around and told me to ‘be a good leader’.

“He had never used that word in all my youth, we never talked about leadership. When you are the boss you are in danger, and my father challenged me on this.”

His biggest advice to all the Ray White business owners was: ‘praise your teams. Praise people who refer business to us”. 

“Praise is one of the greatest gifts in the development of a leader.”

The family owned group has grown using the ‘Three Horizon’ models, identifying the stages of evolution of businesses and how well established businesses can help the creation of new opportunities.

The families’ Horizon 3 businesses are more experimental (Neoval). Horizon 2 (Ailo and NurtureCloud) which are high growth. Horizon 1 businesses are the core businesses (Ray White, LMG and RWC).

Youngest son Ben White (pictured above), founder of Ailo, spoke about how he fell in love with property management.

Ailo has more than 13,000 property managers, 2,500 tradespeople, 60,000 renters and 50,000 landlords on the platform.

“Some 20 years ago, I had been living overseas, and I was looking for a job in the city and dad took me to a meeting. He said to me, property management is the centre of real estate. And I knew it was something worth pursuing. We now have the technology and it’s been a journey and I still believe it’s an idea worth pursuing. Ailo is a high growth business,” Ben White said.

“I am excited by the potential of Ailo, and I spend a lot of time thinking about the future but 99 per cent of my time is on the challenges of now.”

Eldest son Sam White (pictured above), founder and executive chairman of Loan Market, started the financial services group in 1994, 30 years ago this year.

He explained how his mortgage aggregation business LMG had spent the last three years integrating three former NAB mortgage broking businesses – PLAN, Choice and FAST.

LMG now has 5,150 brokers in its network, with $11 billion a month in settlements representing some 27 per cent of the Australian broking market.

“Market share drives everything for us, and brokers like continuity,” Sam White said. 

“I am still learning a lot as we go, especially since our acquisitions. My main job now is giving clarity to our people. We have been doing a lot of staff surveys, and franchisee surveys. I am giving clarity and trying to get more data to see where we can improve.”

“I feel like I am saying the same stuff over and over as my team wants to know where we are going. And if your body language and words don’t meet, there is confusion and you get staff turnover.”

“I am trying to be proactive and feel that is the best use of my time right now to get clarity to everyone.

“The opportunity is about growing and scaling. We now do one in every five home loans in Australia and one in every three in New Zealand.”

Middle son Dan White, managing director of Ray White, who also started investment fund manager Ray White Capital, is the chief custodian of the real estate giant.

“Ray White is a core business that contains commercial, hotels, projects and rural inside the group but we still believe there’s huge potential if we keep taking risks and keep growing our growth businesses. The challenge is to find the clear air to make decisions. Sometimes I need to take time to challenge ideas and not just get sucked into the urgent issues.

“I have a quality team around me, some 360 people in corporate are making the decisions every day.”

He spoke of the Ray White springboard which aims to empower leaders, create a family experience, network effects and competition creation. 

“We have over 1,000 leaders in our group and understanding where they are on their journey is critical, as their effectiveness defines our future. We need to hustle and make sure we are across our leadership opportunities and challenges.”

The core businesses all believe that threats to their businesses are significant.

“Most other groups haven’t grown and we know that the bigger you get, the bigger it is to crush curiosity,” Dan White said.

“I like the term custodian, it’s a liberating concept.”

Often overlooked, property management is an important part of any real estate business. Ray White Lower North Shore director of property management Michelle Lucas (pictured above) is determined to change the view that the industry is the second cousin to sales. 

Ms Lucas oversees 20 staff across four offices spanning the Lower North Shore in Sydney. 

“I have such a passion for property management, the business owners brought me into the business and trusted me. I embraced it and I know how lucky I am – I don’t often meet women property management directors and I’d like to change that,” she said. 

“Nothing I’m going to share with you happened overnight, it took years of passion and drive. We’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way but we’ve got big plans.” 

She knew to grow her businesses, she needed to focus on culture and changing her thinking from being a boss to a leader. 

“I realised that if I get the right people, I can achieve growth. It was challenging going from a boss to a leader and Ray White was a wake up call,” Ms Lucas said.

“When I was a boss, I thought I was the most valuable person in the business. I was the highest paid in the team and it was all about me. 

“My advice is don’t call yourself a boss and don’t act like one. Be proud of your leadership title but you’re one of the team. 

“Three words helped me redefine the culture in my business – humble, hungry and smart. It shaped what leadership meant to me and what I wanted my team culture to look like. 

“They are our business values and that’s what we stand for.”

Leading business owner David Walker (pictured above) of Ray White Upper North Shore, based in the prestigious northern suburbs of Sydney, spoke with Ray White NSW/ACT CEO Tim Snell about his lessons in leadership. 

“We have goals but ultimately as a leader I want to see the people in our business do the best they can. We want to be growing our people and a business that everyone wants to turn up to,” Mr Walker said.

Mr Walker started his business eight years ago in a garage and has since grown to six offices and 120 staff. He identified three growth buckets – team, leadership and footprint. 

“I’ve learned so much in the last eight years about leadership and what I can do better – I’m still learning today,” Mr Walker said.

“It was very me centred when I started. When we expanded, it was still a bit me-centric. It wasn’t until I realised that I wanted to have a crack at building a sustainable business it needed to be less about me and that’s when real growth happened. 

“The moment your people start believing in themselves, that’s when they’ll start investing in themselves and it will take their business to the next level and as leaders it’s our job to make them believe in themselves. 

“I don’t see myself as senior to anyone, I just have a different role and responsibility.” 

Download high res images here.

Media contacts
Alex Tilbury
Shannon Cook
Ray White media team

0413 842 112