Mind Power

Multifamily psychologist and executive coach Ron "Dr. Ron" Beasley reveals the lack of archetypes behind industry leadership.

Publication date: November 11, 2008

By Chris Wood

Photo: Sage Concepts

Dr. Ron Beasley

THIRTY YEARS AGO, PSYCHOLOGIST and family therapist Ron Beasley was recruited by a large multifamily firm to help a challenging executive through an anger management program. He found the experience so rewarding that he launched Sage Concepts, a North Richland Hills, Texas-based executive coaching practice that aims to provide multifamily firms and other businesses with psychological insight to harness innate leadership potential.

Beasley—known affectionately among clients as "Dr. Ron"—has since worked with a wide range of multifamily firms including JPI, Gables Residential, and Post Properties. Whether counseling teams or individuals, Dr. Ron employs a one-on-one coaching style that emphasizes the recognition and development of individual integrity and authenticity in setting proactive goals for leadership success. MFE put Dr. Ron on the couch for a debriefing on the psychological ins-and-outs of multifamily corporate leaders.

MFE: What is your biggest challenge as a psychologist for multifamily leaders?

RB: People have to see the need for change. There are times when I have had to go in and counsel individuals who don't want to be worked with. Those are the hardest clients. I'm not a disciplinarian, and if someone does not see a need for change and isn't interested in improvement, typically I'm not going to be able to work with them. People who want to change and develop as leaders usually display a more outward interest in bettering their communication skills. They want to improve their own self-management.

MFE: But self-centricity and bullheadedness have often led to corporate success. Where does ego fit in?

RB: There is a fine difference between a detrimental narcissistic personality and someone who has a superego and can be a very effective leader. Look at people like Jack Welch [or] Steve Jobs—those guys have some super healthy egos, but it makes them competitive as visionaries, and people follow them. The difference is that effective leaders also have a compelling desire to be authentic and don't need recognition and attention for their behaviors. They don't need to be patted on the back all of the time.

MFE: Is it difficult for leaders to be self-critical?

RB: Everyone finds it difficult to be self-critical and self-examining unless they have a poor ego and low self-image. Most of us don't like to be criticized, and we don't like to look on the inside. A healthy individual selectively shows their authenticity. They are not afraid to be vulnerable. The key to being self-critical is humility: understanding you don't have all the answers and being able in the best interest of others to admit you can be wrong.

MFE: Among the multifamily leaders you've coached, are there any commonalities?

RB: Most CEOs and COOs want to improve their teams. They seem to have a grasp of strategy and want to become more effective in bringing their team up to a certain success level. Vice president-level executives are more focused on individual coaching—how they can relate to their team or be better leaders. The answers to those questions point to their developmental plan. What level do they want to aspire to, and what are the competencies that they need to achieve that?

MFE: Are there any personality archetypes or traits in multifamily leadership?

RB: Archetypes are a dime a dozen. Is it management or leadership? Is it translational or transactional? You go around and around and around in circles and buzzwords. It confuses the concepts of leadership. My job is to find out about you and your company and identify what your success factors are. The success factors for leadership at XYZ company will be completely different from the success factors for leadership at ABC company. There's no such thing as oneleadership- model-fits-all.

MFE: Do leaders deserve to be rewarded?

RB: Are there corporate positions that benefit from having compensation and benefits perks? Yes. The question is whether or not the individual is entitled to those perks. If you think you are entitled to something, or something is due you, that borders on selfishness and integrity issues. Back up what you say with what you do. Be careful about feeling that you are ever owed or entitled to special treatment. Be authentic.