With the holidays approaching, EXIT Realty celebrates its CEO, Tami Bonnell’s 20th anniversary with the company. She joined EXIT in 1998 as the Regional Owner of EXIT of New England, and steadfastly worked her way to Vice President, then U.S. Divisional President in 2009, and was appointed CEO in 2011. Initially attracted to EXIT’s human-centric ideology, Tami would go on to epitomize the very principles EXIT is built upon; she embodies heart in leadership.

The role of heart in leadership

Heart-driven leadership puts people and purpose before profit. Those who lead with this approach incorporate an empathetic understanding of their people in the decision-making process. “When I make decisions,” Tami explains, “I always make sure my head, heart, and gut align. If they don’t, it’s going to be a no.” Leaders such as Tami recognize the value of fostering human potential, building relationships, and creating conditions where people feel purposeful, valued, and empowered to raise each other to the next level, thereby building the foundation for profitability. When these core needs are being met, employee stress levels are reduced by 72%, engagement is increased by 125%, and they are 63% more likely to stay within the company, according to research from the Harvard Business Review. That’s the tangible value that can be created by heart-driven leadership, although it’s not what motivates leaders such as Tami. At the end of the day, she truly wants her people to be happy and healthy – the rest falls into place.

Being accountable for your heart

Leading with your heart requires a well-developed sense of humility, passion, empathy, and authenticity – traits that develop when you make time to focus inwards as often as outwards. If you don’t purposefully schedule time for the human elements, they often get sidetracked in favor of a never-ending barrage of busywork. Knowing this, Tami carefully allocates her time for the things that matter in what she refers to as her “life plan”, which is a perpetual 6-week action plan harmonizing her professional and personal life. In her plan, she budgets time for things close to her heart, such as her family and hobbies, maintaining current relationships, reconnecting with people from her past, demonstrating gratitude, and considering how she can make a positive impact on others. Being this deliberate and accountable with her time enables her to accomplish everything she intends to, while invigorating the people around her to push towards success.

Surrounding yourself with good people

You are the product of the people and organizations with whom you surround yourself. When Tami took to the stage at EXIT’s Annual Convention in 2017, she shared that she’d been certified with HeartMath, an organization dedicated towards broadening the connection between the heart and mind on a global scale. In addition, she is a member of and regular speaker for the  Women’s Council of REALTORS® and serves on the National Association of Women in Real Estate Business’ Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council. Each organization is dedicated to a noble cause to which Tami feels a deep connection. When you surround yourself with those whom you admire and respect, you’re continually inspired and elevated to better yourself.

Effective leaders don’t demand a followership, they set an example that inspires and attracts others. EXIT Realty is fortunate to have a CEO like Tami Bonnell, who continually demonstrates her commitment to the well-being of everyone in the organization.



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