Gary Keller is Back as CEO of Keller Williams – 4 Things We Can Learn From His Leadership

At 7:44pm last night an email dropped into my inbox with news that will change the course of the real estate industry for the next several decades. Gary Keller is back as CEO of Keller Williams.

The interesting thing is, he never actually left. He was simply behind the scenes, leading through others. Gary has built an incredible organization that I am proud to be a part of. He was able to do it because he fully embraced one of the core principles of leadership – no one succeeds alone. He surrounded himself with the very best talent over the years, from Mary Tennant, to John Davis, to Mo Anderson, to Dianna Kokoszka, to Jay Papasan, to Mark Willis, and now, Josh Team, who have all helped build Keller Williams into the powerhouse that it is today.

2019 will be one of the biggest years of change in the real estate industry. Who better to guide the 190,000+ Keller Williams agents and business leaders, then Gary? His impact on the real estate industry as a whole is legendary. The decisions he makes today will set the stage for years to come about how we (consumers, business leaders, and agents) “do” real estate. This is a new chapter in history for Keller Williams and real estate professionals worldwide.

A move like this riles up the armchair quarterbacks and starts up the rumor mill. Did Gary make a bold move? Absolutely. One I stand firmly behind because his leadership is what has gotten us to where we are, and will keep us blazing the trail and shaping the new rules of real estate.

Gary Keller is one of the greats. A legendary leader who’s ability to transform industries and lead an organization through major economic shifts and industrial revolutions, will be studied years from now. Gary understands that as a leader, in times of stress, uncertainty, tight deadlines, big challenges, and seemingly impossible odds, bold moves are required. This is the time to step up and lead from the front.

Here are four things we can learn from Gary’s leadership:

  1. GET DIRTY >>> As Keller Williams continues their technology transformation Gary has chosen to roll up his sleeves and guide the organization through this industry shift. Leaders must jump in and work alongside their people during times of adversity and change. Great leaders demonstrate their willingness to get dirty and fight alongside their team. Gary stepping back in as CEO is a prime example of this.
  2. BE THE HUNTER >>> When big things are happening that seem to be out of your control (i.e. the 4th industrial revolution, layoffs, economic shifts, politics, etc.), do not sit back and wait it out! This is the time to get aggressive, double and triple down on your efforts, take calculated risks, make moves, and shake things up. Disrupt yourself or your company before an external force outside of your control does. Do not be the hunted; be the hunter. Take action. Gary reclaimed the wheel and will now lead from the front.
  3. PLAN YOUR WORK, THEN WORK YOUR PLAN >>> Gary has been on a mission for years to transform real estate technology. He has not deviated from that target. The plan was set and he continued to drive that plan forward, pushing other projects aside when necessary. Leaders know that clear communication and setting the direction are paramount to a successful organization. Develop a strong road map and then follow it. Gary is working his plan and driving the entire organization forward in the process.
  4. CHOOSE YOUR STRUGGLE >>> Leaders get hit every day with challenges and problems. At a certain point in your leadership journey, you no longer hear the good stuff, only bad or worse. Not every battle is worth fighting, not every sacrifice can be justified. But if you are crystal clear on your target and plan and know what you need to do to get there, then no matter how hard it gets, you are in control. You have consciously chosen your struggle and what you are willing to sacrifice to get where you want to go. Gary has never wavered on his fight for the agent. As CEO, the fight will continue and he will never give up.

Gary’s strong leadership is a model for us all to follow. And his message is clear: The big issue of our industry is around who has the relationship with the consumer. Whoever has the personal relationship with the consumer, with incredible service, powered by a powerful technology platform, will win the day.

That’s where we’re at. The battle is on and it is far from over. But this is also where the fun begins. This is where the professionals show up and leaders get down to work. This is where teams comes together and industries are changed forever. It will not be easy. Finding joy in the struggle is critical to continue to push through the long days and constant challenges. Enjoying the doing as much as the outcome is what our time on earth is all about. I, for one, am embracing the doing, because we’ve got a lot to do.



  1. Rebecca Shanahan-Galligani

    Excited to have him back in the CEO role and the driver for this change. We couldn’t be in better hands.

    1. Post
  2. Michael Mergell

    I loved getting this news last night. Clearly, Gary Keller is dedicated more than ever to his KW Agents and their Success.

    1. Post
  3. Cari Heibel-Briner

    So excited for this journey we are on here at KW and HergGroup. Gary Keller is a leader I 100% will bet on and with his leadership and support, HergGroup is going to continue to succeed at the highest of levels through all of the changes ahead. Lots of work to do and I can’t wait. It is going to be a wild (and fun) ride! Onward!

    1. Post
  4. Jorge O'Farrill

    Who better to lead us during this time of change than Gary? As you point out, his proven track record of success and his willingness to get dirty with his troops will be paramount for success in the opportunities we will have as an industry in the years to come. I am super excited to be a part of such an amazing company!

    1. Post
  5. Cindy Griesse

    Great read Adam. Thank you for your insight and clarity. So true, leadership is always about making the tough decisions and doing what others aren’t willing to do. Spot on assessment. Cindy G

    1. Post

Leave a Reply to Adam Cancel reply