Building strong relationships isn’t just what Sylvia Seabolt does as a Realtor, it’s one of her main goals as president-elect of the Women’s Council of Realtors.
Still influenced by mentors from as far back as 10 years ago, Seabolt was inspired to become a leader within the world of real estate because of the hard work and leadership of her single mother. When Seabolt was 17 years old, her mother became the president of the Dallas-area Women’s Council of Realtors.
“I watched her grow, learn and adapt and I watched her become the leader that I didn’t know existed,” Seabolt said. “This organization pulled the leadership skills out of her.”
Seeing her mother leading the Dallas-area Women’s Council of Realtors is what drew Seabolt into the organization over 20 years ago, and since joining she has served 53 committees and currently serves as vice president for the council.
Seabolt’s main goal is to show herself as an “imperfect leader” since leadership to her is about how a person deals with their shortcomings. She wants to show members that being a good leader is about facing problems honestly and admitting faults.
“Every woman I’ve ever admired — this is how they dealt with their imperfections,” Seabolt said. “I want to be a relatable president that people can see themselves on stage when I’m on stage.”
An affiliate of the National Association of Realtors, The Women’s Council of Realtors began in 1938 as a way to increase the equity of women in the real estate market. But Seabolt says there is still a need in the market for a women’s organization.
“Even in 2020, I can’t even count on my hands the number of times someone has spoken down to me for being a woman in real estate,” Seabolt said. “That’s why the Women’s Council is so important to show that women do bring value to the table. When there’s diversity at the table, everyone wins.”
The group comprises over 12,000 agents, with close to 10% of them being male-identifying. According to Seabolt, having men in the council helps promote their mission of inclusivity.
Although stepping into the leadership role during the COVID-19 pandemic comes with challenges, Seabolt believes in the power of relationships and says being a member of this organization has helped her create relationships across the country.
“These relationships have completely impacted my life as these amazing women have become like family to me,” Seabolt said. “We push each other to do more, be more and give more back to our industry.”
According to Seabolt, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way she communicates, but in some ways, it has made the council more connected than ever before. The weekly coffee hangouts she hosts over Zoom allow members the freedom to discuss anything, and it’s helped her keep a positive perspective for dealing with this pandemic.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t be doing Zoom all along,” Seabolt said. “Not everything needed to be in person.”
It’s an important lesson and seismic shift that Realtors need to take, Seabolt said, noting that working from home will be done at a much higher rate in the future. According to the consulting company Global Workplace Analytics, 30% of the workforce will work from home at least a few times a week after this pandemic is over.
While the pandemic has shifted client relations, it’s also provided a much-needed jolt to the industry to make it more convenient for agents to have meetings and discuss issues with their clients.
Change is never easy, but it’s important to find ways to continue to build relationships with clients while working remotely, said Seabolt, who’s helped keep clients’ kids entertained through Zoom so the parents could take a much-needed break from parenting.
“Those parents are going to remember you gave them an hour of sanity,” Seabolt said.
A leader within the Women’s Council of Realtors for the past several years, the biggest piece of advice Seabolt would give to agents just starting out during these uncertain times is to “always say yes.”
“The Women’s Council is like everything in life,” she said. “What you put into it is what you’ll get out of it. And it will change your life if you let it.”