MReport February 2019

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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16 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE W hat makes a good leader great? In his book Superbosses, Sydney Finklestein shares the idea of how leaders, despite being from different industries and having different leadership styles, share some common approaches to build highly suc- cessful organizations. Finkles- tein says these leaders not only focus on identifying promising newcomers, inspiring their best work, and launching them into highly successful careers, they also expand their own networks and build stronger companies. But a truly strong company can only be built by a leader who prepares for all and every eventuality—and those are many in the mortgage industry. From the cyclical nature of the market to the quick adoption of the latest technology, the executives that MReport spoke to had many examples to share on the ABCs of being a complete leader. People's Person "T he executive whose company falls apart upon his/her departure was never a complete leader. Finding ways to nurture the company's greatest asset—its people—is critical for long-term success," said Kevin Brungardt, CEO RoundPoint Mortgage. "That means spend- ing time identifying rising stars, finding opportunities for them to stretch and take on new respon- sibilities, and building a corporate atmosphere that attracts (and retains) quality employees." Honing great talent also means having the ability to lis- ten and remain humble. Giving an example of a tough execu- tive decision he had to make to ensure that the leadership team at Churchill embodied these values, Mike Hardwick, CEO, Churchill Mortgage, said that the company had employed a senior leader a few years back who, while being smart and great at his work, failed to "exhibit a consistent willingness to listen to others or work well within our collaborative team and leadership efforts." Hardwick said that these traits got them to re- think their decision and move on to replacing that position with a person who displayed the "smart, hungry, humble" attributes. According to Rob Rothrock, SVP, Marketing at Gateway Mortgage Group, it is crucial for a leader to have a clear understand- ing of what the employees need rather than what they want. "A good leader is able to develop other leaders within all levels of an organization by providing necessary training and industry insight, which is impossible to do without a clear understanding of employees' needs," he said. To do that though, it is imperative for an executive to remain accessible, a trait that Greg Holmes, Managing Partner at Credit Plus emphasized on for any good leader. "I've found that many well-meaning execu- tives can find themselves cut off from the day-to-day needs and struggles of employees," he said. "Successful leaders must make every effort to be approachable and stay involved, to ensure that they understand the pain points of their workforce." The sentiment was echoed by DeAnn O'Donovan, President and CEO, AHP Servicing who said a good leader was someone who "seeks consensus, not hierarchy and creates a culture of active listening, transparency, and trust within the organization." It's also important to let an employee know that "you care about their success," said Andrea Tromberg, Owner, Tromberg Law Group. "At AHP Servicing, we strive to create a '3L's culture' of learn- ing, listening, and leadership for people to grow within their roles," O'Donovan said. "We believe this defines not just good leaders today, but creates the lead- ers of tomorrow." In fact, all leaders rate creating a strong company culture high on their list of must-haves. Vision vs. Consistency "E very employee impacts an organization's direc- tion, but leadership has by far the largest and most direct effect on company culture," wrote William Craig, Founder and President of WebFX in a recent article in Forbes. "Leadership cultivates the foundation of culture to empower employees to achieve the com- pany mission and realize how vital each of their contributions is to furthering those goals." For Brungardt, building the company's culture has always been a key focus area. "I believe that the C in CEO stands for culture and that it's a foundational piece to any company's success. At RoundPoint, people are abso- lutely our greatest asset. How- The Industry's Top Leaders to the Rescue We take a look at what it takes for a top boss to lead by example and the qualities that they must encompass to do so. By Radhika Ojha

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