MReport February 2019

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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18 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE ever, a culture that values people doesn't just evolve on its own," he said. "It takes a commitment of time, resources, and energy to build." But creating a strong culture is often a tightrope act of balanc- ing between change and consis- tency. Ask Stanley Middleman, CEO Freedom Mortgage, who works hard to teach his team to "embrace change rather than get stymied by it. That's particularly true in the mortgage industry where technology, products, and the market are continually evolv- ing and it's important that leaders evolve along with those changes." Holmes said that all great leaders have that "vision thing." He describes it as their ability to seemingly see into the future, anticipate market changes or com- petitive challenges, and be able to translate that into action. "That's particularly important in our in- dustry where change is constant, and knowing what's next can be the difference between thriving and merely surviving." However, Middleman points out that comfort with change must be complemented by con- sistency. "Consistency in paying attention to details, taking things step by step, building lasting re- lationships, and serving customer needs with integrity—these were the principles on which I founded Freedom Mortgage. They haven't changed in 28 years and never will," Middleman said. A leader's consistency is also reflected in their persistence to- wards "reaching goals, constantly seeking new prospects, and look- ing to create new connections," said Adam Thorpe, CEO, Castle & Cooke Mortgage, LLC. The bottom line, Thorpe said, was building relationships, which is es- sential to a leader's success. As the mortgage industry enters the next phase of the housing cycle, Hardwick said that the key qualities for leaders moving for- ward would be founded on their ability to challenge how things have been done in the past, even if they were highly successful. "With the increase in rates, tightening of the housing mar- ket and margin compression, the vision to establish a unique competitive edge, courage to make that change, and the discipline to not chase investments with low return, and especially avoiding irresponsible commissions, will be key for the coming years," Hardwick said. According to Ed Marcheselli, Managing Director at BAI, inno- vation is a key quality for leaders in the current market environ- ment whether it is in terms of bringing out new products to the mortgage market, building specific products together, or really un- derstanding their customer. These leaders, Marcheselli said, are not only using analytics and research provided to them but are also "mining their own customer data to make sure that they're really micro-targeting the right solution to the right customer." But to achieve that kind of a competitive edge, leaders in the mortgage industry would need to set an example as they lead their organizations through changing market dynamics. Leadership Brand W hile competence, character, and charisma aren't eas- ily quantifiable qualities, leaders are brands unto themselves. An article titled "Like It or Not, Your Are Always Leading by Example," in Harvard Business Review makes a case for how serious leaders build their leadership brand by under- standing that "both by design and default, they're always leading by example." In the article, Michael Schrage, author of the books Serious Play, Who do You Want Your Customers to Become?, and The Innovator's Hypoth- esis, pointed out, "Some [leaders] want to 'lead from the front' while others prefer 'leading from behind.' But everyone senses their success— and failure—at leading by example is integral to their 'leadership brand.'" Leadership also translates into being a role model for employees, according to Rothrock. "Good leaders provide insight from personal experiences to employees and encourage them to be proac- tive in learning more about the industry and exploring personal development opportunities," he said. "Investing in learning and development and creating a cur- riculum are necessary steps that leaders take to prepare their em- ployees for success. A successful leader is evident when employees become highly self-motivated and skilled in their fields." Leading by example is some- thing that Tromberg says is a key aspect of helping employees succeed. "Knowing the person's issues or reason for the struggle is critical," she said. "Do not judge too quickly, and be sure that the matter cannot be cured with training and attending." It also means staying involved according to Holmes. "The more we can be available to hear their "Good leaders provide insight from personal experiences to employees and encourage them to be proactive in learning more about the industry and exploring personal development opportunities." —Rob Rothrock, SVP, Marketing at Gateway Mortgage Group

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