top of page

I can’t afford to have my sign on your lawn!

I overheard Anne saying, “I can’t afford to have my sign on your lawn.”

“What does that mean?” I asked. (As you know, owls don’t have lawns, so I had no idea what she was talking about.)

“It’s something my mother used to say to her real estate clients when they were not allowing her to bring her highest and best self and do her best work,” Anne explained.

“You see, she had a reputation to uphold and protect.

"Not only was my mother a member of the top residential sales tier; she had also won several awards based on client feedback.

“What do real estate clients want from their sales agent? A quick sale at the best possible price. When the For Sale sign on the lawn hangs around for more than 30 days, it tells people that the sale is not happening quickly.

“My mother took immense pride in her ability to review the comparable sales, evaluate the amenities in the neighbourhood, assess the current market and set a fair price. She helped her clients with staging their homes for maximum appeal and she used her well-honed marketing skills to find a suitable buyer, nearly always within 3 weeks; certainly, it was rare for a sale to take more than a month. She guarded her reputation with great care!

“Occasionally, she would run into a situation where the client (the home seller) was unwilling to take her advice – either they did not accept the recommended asking price and held out for more, were not willing to undertake the improvements to stage the house to advantage (e.g., cut the grass, declutter, make sure the kitchen was clean and beds were made), were not willing to make the home available for showing on a moment’s notice or were otherwise uncooperative.

“Rather than have her sign on the lawn, telling the neighbourhood that the sale was not proceeding as expected, she would encourage the home seller to find another agent and she would explain by saying, “I can’t afford to have my sign on your lawn.”

“This conversation usually took place during the initial relationship-building stage before her sign ever appeared on the client’s lawn. Sometimes it came later."

“I still don’t understand why you were saying it, unless something has changed since yesterday, you are not a real estate agent!” I told her.

Anne laughed and said, “It’s an analogy, Edna.

“I was speaking with Gerome. You remember that Gerome has been on-again, off-again with his project. He wants access to my advice and guidance, but then he argues with me about why he doesn’t want to take action, just like a homeowner might not make whatever modifications my mother had recommended.

“There is one person on his leadership team who is the wrong person in the wrong seat – he doesn’t fit with the organization’s values; his skills and abilities don’t fit the role he has been assigned. Gerome complains every single time we talk, but he will not act to either move this individual to a more suitable role, where he can be polished up to fit or release him to find a better fit for his skills and abilities.

“My recommendation is to let him go so he can find an organization where his current values are aligned with the organization as I am not confident he is willing to change his attitude and perspective.

“As a result of Gerome’s refusing to deal with the situation, we are not ready to make progress with embedding the Platinum Rule® into his organization.

“I know he talks about having us involved with his organization and tells others that he is introducing our program into his organization. The people he tells will no doubt see that he is making little or no progress in building his leadership team and no progress at all in the balance of the organization.

“This lack of performance impacts my reputation. When Gerome’s colleagues consider how his leadership team is functioning, they may attribute the success or non-success of the team to the work that I have done in coaching and guiding them.

“This is the same idea as having my sign on their lawn.

“I can’t afford to risk my reputation on organizations that are not ready, willing and committed to adjusting to improve; whether that means moving people around to put them in roles that are a better fit for their skills, knowledge and ability, fulfilling their promises to employees, associates, clients (customers, patients, subscribers, students), creating psychological safety in their work environment, or addressing inequities to ensure that all people have the same opportunities for advancement …

“If you ever hear me talking about having my sign on someone’s lawn, you can be sure we are discussing the process of disengaging. "

That’s exactly the conversation I had with Gerome.”

“It is always disappointing when this happens.”

It makes sense to me! What about you dear readers? Remember, we all work hard to build our reputations whether we are business owners, artists, business leaders, homecare workers, accountants, lawyers, plumbers, gardeners, or taxi drivers. Are you selective about whose lawn you put your sign on?


bottom of page