Lessons in Leadership: Natalie Tyler-Martin

January 16, 2023 | By: Natalie Tyler-Martin

In October of 2022, four leaders across different sectors of the CRE industry were brought together to discuss leadership. The panel spoke about investing in future leaders, growing teams, mental health, and more. Below are highlights from Natalie Tyler-Martin’s comments.

Industrial Real Estate

I’m all industrial. I love industrial hands-down, but here’s the deal, there’s no difference. It’s all customer service. It’s right at the end of the day. We’re all here to serve our customers. My customers just come into work looking a little different. Their buildings are a little different, but at the end of the day our role is to make sure our tenants can run their operations. The last thing we ever want is for one of our tenants to not be able to operate because of the building.

It’s customer service, its problem solving. It’s just figuring it out and making sure that you do the best job possible. A friend of mine recently made the analogy that on the team it’s not the name that’s on the back, but it’s the name that’s on the front of the jersey. And you have to remember, it’s not, “we were in these situations” it’s not an “I as a leader,” it’s all about “we,” and we are in this thing together. We go in the fire together and we come out of the fire together.

I somewhat grew up through the ranks, from static property manager to a VP, Regional Asset Management, and then earlier this year I switched over to leasing and development. When I think about leadership, on leading a team and leading yourself, it’s all about self-awareness. I think, as leaders, we should be trying to do a better job of taking care of ourselves. You have to take that time to take care of yourself because being a leader is filling other’s cups. And you have to learn how to kind of take that time to refill your cup so that you can fill someone else’s cup, because that’s what we’re doing. We’re filling every cup. We work for our teams, but you have to be very intentional on taking that time.

Defining Leadership

Three words for leadership: empathy, authenticity, and vulnerability.

That’s what it really comes down to because leadership is about people. Sometimes leadership and management get intertwined. They’re two different things. Leadership is about people; managing is about a process. Sometimes we try to manage people with a process, but they’re humans, right? And so taking that moment to really spend time and really know your teams and know yourself.

Because we’re all special and different, but how you manage who are you as an individual and bringing that person every day to work goes a long way in setting vision and building those relationships. It gets you to the end goal. And it is draining. That’s why you have to do self-care. It takes a lot of work, working out whatever you need to fill your cup. You’ve got to be very intentional about that because it’s easy to get drained. Especially in this space where we’re all on call 24/7.

You have to take a break. Sometimes you have to intentionally say; I need a moment. And being in this space as leaders, we have to give that to our to our teams, to take that moment of break. And we need to take that moment too, for ourselves. Those are my three words, and while we have all hit on them, they are critical in defining leadership for me.

Working for your Team

I work for my team. My goal is for my team to have all the resources that they need to be successful. I have to empower them and trust them to overcome. I am there to protect them. I am their backstop, but I’m going to empower them to go make the decision, you have to make the decision. Let them know as a leader “I got you, what do you need?” Even in failure, support them.

Wherever the chips fall, that’s where they fall. Let the team know “I’m going to support you.” We have to fail to learn. I’m trying to teach my 5-year-old failure. You have to almost get comfortable with failure because otherwise you’ll just stay in a safe space.

Learn from Failure

What happens when a team that is cohesive and working together fails? What are they going to do? They’re going to regroup and figure out what they did wrong or what did not work. They’re going to pick it up and move it forward, and they’re going to do it again. They’re going to do it again and then the next time they have a system to make it so that will never happen again.

That didn’t work, let’s go this way. Done, moving on. And this all ties into creating a camaraderie that happens at the same time, that happens with failure. Failure is a gift and I think so often we spend our time, especially when we are managing, trying to prevent failure versus celebrating the failures. But if you’re leading, you have to have vision.

There’s so much out there that you cannot see right? And you have to be comfortable with that. But you know that you’re going to hit the end, your team will reach that goal, because everyone’s focused and committed on the same goal.  As a leader, you have to create that space of “Go do it, I’ve got you.”

Empower them to make these decisions. When a team member comes to me asking for help, I’ve got their back and that’s where the leadership role comes in. I look at myself as someone who works for my team, because as long as they are successful, everything else works perfectly. I want them to have everything in my heart, I want them to have everything that they need.

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