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Six Leadership Lessons from Hughes Marino Chairman & CEO Jason Hughes

For Jason Hughes, chairman and CEO of Hughes Marino, great coaching is at the core of building a championship team or growing an organization, and it comes down to recognizing team members’ potential—even when they don’t see it—and helping them to develop the confidence and skills to achieve at the highest levels.

Here are six key leadership principles Jason has applied over the years as one of Hughes Marino’s top coaches.

  1. Never compromise when hiring.

Jason and Hughes Marino President & COO Shay Hughes are extremely selective when it comes to bringing on new team members, which includes conducting extensive interviews with many members of the team. They look for qualities that are not necessarily found on someone’s resume, but rather someone who intrinsically embodies the company’s core values and will be a valuable contributor to Hughes Marino’s highly collaborative culture. “We hire someone based on the person, not the resume,” Jason says. “If they are authentic and cut from the same cloth in terms of values and ethics, we will make a big bet on them and help to nurture their potential.”

  1. Lead with Love.

Jason admits that when he first started Hughes Marino, he might have shied away from using the term “love” to describe his leadership approach. But he’s come to greatly admire the approach and lessons of Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, who talks openly about leading with love. Jason and Shay had the opportunity to meet with Howard and tour Starbucks’s Seattle roasting plant with him, and Jason says he turns to Schultz’s books for some of his greatest business leadership insights, including his all-time favorite, “Onward,” which he has earmarked from years of rereading.

“A lot of my leadership is reflective of my interactions with him,” Jason says. “I admire how empathetic he is—he introduced a level of humanity not typically shown by most CEOs. Yes, it is important that we are profitable. But I want to see everyone on our team have an incredible life. And we can accomplish both if we do it right.”

  1. Help team members overcome their limited thinking.

The biggest challenge to achieving success, in commercial real estate as well as many other industries, says Jason, is negative self-talk. “The only hurdle to success is one’s limited thinking,” he says. “People think they aren’t smart enough or they compare themselves to others, and they talk themselves out of success.” Jason says his role is to help his team overcome their mental blocks and reach their actual potential. “My challenge to a lot of professionals is to take off their self-imposed limitation blinders and be open to the idea that they can succeed far beyond what their mind wants to limit them to. Yes, they have to work hard and smart and add lots of value. But I will show them that it is possible.”

  1. Emulate other top performers.

Jason looks critically at the work that hyper-successful professionals on his team are doing so that it can be replicated and followed by others—and he has designed a Hughes Marino playbook that provides a play-by-play for the right steps to take to do so. To keep the team motivated and on track, regardless of where they are located, Jason hosts regular “Town Halls” and all-team meetings via Zoom, where he intersperses tactical real estate advice with lessons in mindfulness and motivation strategies that can be utilized both in and out of the office.

  1. Adopt a coach mentality.

Jason spends a lot of time thinking about coaching and coaching styles and draws a number of key influences from athletics. His favorites include former University of Alabama coach Nick Saban who says, “There are two pains in life. There is the pain of discipline and the pain of disappointment. If you can handle the pain of discipline, then you’ll never have to deal with the pain of disappointment,” and former Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski who says, “There are five fundamental qualities that make every team great: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride.”

While our professionals ultimately have to do the heavy lifting, Jason says, he is on the sidelines, guiding them and cheering them on. “If they have the hunger and the passion, I know how to help,” he says. As a result, Jason has experienced the feeling of exhilaration at seeing many of his team members rise beyond their initial limited expectations to achieve great personal success.

  1. Be the Navy SEALs, not the Army brigade.

Many commercial real estate companies are driven by ruthless internal competition—with hundreds of brokers in a market competing against one another. Hughes Marino has a very different approach. Jason says they intentionally limit the size of their team in every market and provide every professional with immense resources so they can provide the best possible service to their clients. “Everything we do is to help our professionals be the best on the planet and deliver the best service and results to our clients,” says Jason. By supporting our best in class team of subject matter experts, they are able to work as a team and perform at the highest level. “We have a true team environment where teammates collaborate and lift each other up with our collective expertise, which ultimately yields better results for our clients. We often say, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’” Jason says.

When it comes to leading a team—whether on the field or in the office—every detail matters on the path to success. From a very selective process of bringing on new team members, learning from and celebrating each other’s successes and helping individuals overcome their mental roadblocks, these six lessons have been integral to Jason’s approach in coaching the award-winning team at Hughes Marino.

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