MReport February 2019

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20 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE a willingness to invest in the future leaders of the organization that helped develop her brand of leadership. "I have carried that torch forward as I moved into the C-suite and as a result, we have a number of key professionals that I've worked with two, three, and even four times," she said. "That brings a level of trust, transparency, and stability to our team at AHP Servicing. It has also paid dividends during this period of full employment. While others are in a war for talent, we're holding exploratory meetings with professionals who want to work with our team as positions become available. This has quickly become a competitive advantage." Planning Ahead S ometimes it is tough times also that bring out the leadership of an individual or company. Giving such an example, Middleman said that surviving the last housing crisis was a pretty big deal for him and Freedom Mortgage. "We planned for both the headwinds and tailwinds of tumultuous change. While many big lenders were left critically wounded, Freedom Mortgage grew through the downturn as we made the decision to turn inward and focus on diversifying our business portfolio through strategic acquisitions," he said. "Our foresight had a big payoff as we were able to grow our busi- ness tremendously after the crisis. This year, Freedom Mortgage celebrated its millionth customer and solidified our position as one of the country's top ten mortgage lenders." Having the vision to anticipate the future and make adjustments well in advance are truly a mark of a great leader, according to Brungardt. "In addition, a leader is the face of the company, so he/she needs to be a great internal and external ambassador of the brand. If you don't believe, to your core, in the mission of your company, how can you demand employees to give their best? Or how can you expect customers to evange- lize your brand to their friends and neighbors?" Staying Grounded D espite all the successes, it is equally important for leaders to look for that balance that won't get them too high on success or low on failures, according to Holmes. "True leaders aren't afraid of failure—they see it as an opportunity to improve, and that sense filters throughout the company," Holmes said. "When employees are excited to try new ideas, and managers embrace the risk of failure inherent in new ini- tiatives, that's a company that will be found on the cutting edge." Additionally, Holmes said that humility was also a big part of successful leadership. "We all started somewhere, and many of us have gone through the same struggles that younger profes- sionals go through every day. Keeping that in mind makes us better leaders; people who inspire instead of require." For Hardwick, recognizing that they need a solid team behind them in order to succeed is a hallmark of a good leader. "These individuals highly value oth- ers and recognize people as the company's most important asset. Because of this, they continually look for ways to help their fellow employees grow and reward them well," he said. But at the end of the day, as Rothrock said, it is putting your talents to use while striving for wisdom that helps in nurturing relationships across all lines, pass- ing of knowledge, and developing these leadership skills. "When training employees, a favorite say- ing from my grandfather comes to mind, 'you're smart, kid, but wis- dom takes time.' Wisdom is the combination of intelligence AND experience," Rothrock said. RADHIK A OJHA , Online Editor at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her master's degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Dallas, Texas. You can contact her at Radhika.Ojha@ "I believe that the C in CEO stands for culture and that it's a foundational piece to any company's success. However, a culture that values people doesn't just evolve on its own. It takes a commitment of time, resources, and energy to build." —Kevin Brungardt, CEO, RoundPoint Mortgage

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