“You cannot interchange the word leader and boss.”
Jonathan McLaurin, Director, Asset Management at USAA Real Estate Company, values positive perspectives in life. This serves him well in his career and personal life.
Jonathan received his Bachelor’s from Indiana University where he double majored in Finance and Legal Studies. He attended leadership camps and programs throughout his life starting at a young age. These experiences helped him learn more about the characteristics of a successful leader. However, Jonathan feels he learned the most about leadership from attending church. The biblical stories of Jesus have taught him the true meaning of leadership as Jonathan admires the sacrifices he made for others. President Obama also inspires Jonathan because of his ability to stay cool and calm under pressure.
When it comes to choosing a career Jonathan recommends “jumping out on faith.” He feels no one should take their first job after college based solely on money. Jonathan said, “Money can come later, however, if you only chase the money, happiness may never come.” When he first entered the real estate industry, many people were hesitant about the decision because he was on a different career path. Jonathan followed his heart and has remained content with the decision because he followed his passion.
Jonathan strives to empower people around him and take the focus off of him. He also strives to be a democratic and supportive leader. When describing his leadership style, Jonathan acknowledged that leading is a process. At the beginning of a project, he will be more hands-on; his ultimate goal is to step back as quickly possible. In his work environment Jonathan values efficiency and quality team members he can trust.
While the corporate real estate industry has become more diverse, it’s still rare to see young African Americans in top leadership positions. Jonathan believes the first leadership role he held that truly mattered was when he led a corporate real estate diversity council at twenty-four years old. He enjoyed enhancing and furthering diversity initiatives. Jonathan’s presence in the field and dedication to diversity help serve as examples to his peers and those that desire to be leaders in the corporate real estate industry. Jonathan does not let barriers stop him; he uses them as stepping stones. He believes, “A person’s success is best defined by the barriers that lie in the rearview mirror.”
Effective communication is at the foundation of impactful leadership and Jonathan thinks it’s important for leaders to be able to walk into any room and hold meaningful conversations with anyone in that room, regardless of who they are. A lot of people cannot do this, and it is a quality that differentiates Jonathan from others. Another lesson he shared is, “You will encounter ‘no’s’ but the closed doors will guide you to the open doors that really matter.”
When Jonathan is not at work, he enjoys shooting landscape. His favorite object is a lens which aligns with his favorite word, perspective. One day Jonathan would love to rent an RV for an entire summer and take pictures at national parks across the country. Being able to spend time, doing nothing in particular, with the people he loves makes Jonathan smile.
Jonathan encourages future leaders to:
Always… do what’s right, even if it’s not the most popular choice.
Never… follow the crowd.
Follow… your instincts.
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