Now more than ever is a prime opportunity for mortgage companies to create greater diversity amongst industry leaders. As a new generation of homebuyers emerges, one in which millennials, Hispanics, and single women will be key players, it’s vital that the leadership within the industry become more reflective of the population that it's serving. Becoming more diverse is not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense. It’s more difficult to reach and impact consumers when they have a limited voice represented in decision-making roles. And while there has been progress, there's always room for growth. For mortgage banking to maximize its reach, diversified leadership has to become a higher priority; so, whether you want to incorporate diversity within your leadership or become a leader yourself, you have to know what you’re looking for and what it takes to succeed. From solid character to being an innovator, there are key attributes all leaders in mortgage banking need if they want to be part of framing the future of the industry.
Leading within the mortgage arena, or any field, starts with character. Good character goes hand-in-hand with true leadership. For mortgage banking to progress, there has to be ongoing trust built within the community and new levels of respect established for the industry. One way to do this is by promoting leaders who lead with integrity. In an industry where there is the potential to impact the livelihood of countless people, character-based leadership is essential. Making money can never become a higher priority than doing what is right by the people you serve. Good leaders know that good results follow good ethics; and not the other way around. Granting loans to borrowers that could prove detrimental in the long run is never wise and good leaders understand that. A leader has to be more concerned about a borrower's livelihood than making a profit at the borrower's expense.
Will Over Skill
When you have the will to succeed, you will always find the way to make it happen. Possessing the right skills will move you forward in the industry, but having strong determination will take you farther than any skill set. That’s why drive, hunger, and motivation are so essential to leadership. The person who is highly motivated will outpace the person who simply has the experience and knowledge. When someone is motivated, they will find the way to develop the skills that they lack. However, just because someone has the skills, it doesn’t mean they will be motivated to use them. Nothing will stop the determined person from getting ahead but lacking zeal and passion will always hinder the skilled person from overcoming challenges. When you identify someone who has the will to succeed, invest time in training them on the necessary skills. You can teach skills, but leaders have to have the motivation to win.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
There's a lot of value in having diverse perspectives in one room. Yet, studies have shown that women speak up about 75% less than men in group environments where they feel outnumbered. If you’re going to lead, you have to be willing to let your voice be heard. At times, people sit back without saying anything due to the fear of being wrong or at the risk of someone disagreeing. Yet, every time you have a seat the table, you have to learn to speak up. You won’t ever step into a leadership role by playing it safe and sitting quietly on the sidelines. You have to step up to the table and not be afraid to voice your opinion. Leadership requires the willingness to take risks and get out of your comfort zone. People may not recognize your ability to lead until they start observing your worthwhile input. If someone invited you to be a part of a group meeting, it’s because they deemed your presence was necessary. So, it’s up to you to take advantage of that opportunity and prove them right.
Practice Good Listening
In order to lead, you also have to know when it’s time to talk less and listen more. That’s because good leaders are good listeners. They understand that they gain knowledge by listening not talking. So, they’ve learned the art of listening. It’s just as important to learn how to actively listen as it is to learn how to listen to what’s not actively communicated. You can collect valuable data on how to lead and what changes to implement simply by listening. You have to listen to your customers. You have to know what they want. Why do they do business with you? What do they tell others about their experience with you? You also have to listen to your employees, business partners, and other industry professionals in order to not only understand the environment within your company’s culture but the industry as a whole. If you don’t listen and remain connected, you won’t have the necessary knowledge to lead an organization.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Since change is inevitable, it’s vital that leaders have good foresight and have the ability to see the big picture. You must be able to look five years down the road and anticipate what’s coming as the industry transitions through various cycles. A leader must know the challenges and opportunities that are ahead. Having your pulse on the market and taking proactive measures, as opposed to reacting to changes, will mean the difference between being successful as a mortgage leader and being unsuccessful. When you’re in tune with the trends, you understand how current issues affect the housing marketplace, which enables you to effectively navigate a business through transitional periods. Good leaders know the direction the market is headed in and they have a clear vision for the future. Reactive leaders wait for challenges to arise before taking action. That’s why a huge part of proactive leadership is not only thinking strategically but also thinking long term. If you want to succeed as a leader in mortgage banking, you have to constantly evaluate what you’re doing to prepare your business for market changes and how you’re going to stay ahead of the curve. Otherwise, you won’t be able to keep pace in a competitive arena.
Use Innovative Measures
As a tech-savvy, millennial generation becomes more of a key player in the housing market, it’s more important than ever that mortgage companies have innovative leaders. It’s a huge asset. While innovation is about technology, that is only one component. Being innovative is all about having an ability to think outside of the box and find better ways of doing business. It begins with an innate curiosity and a refusal to become stagnant. It’s means being a forward-thinker and constantly looking for ways to improve. Over the past few decades, a lot has evolved within mortgage banking and in order for it to keep moving forward, you have to keep fresh ideas. Whether it’s developing an innovative approach to your operational platform, streamlining the way you process loans, or how you connect with consumers, as a leader you have to discover ways to help your business run more efficiently. You have to be aware that old marketing methods will likely not be effective with a new housing consumer. You have to devise a cutting-edge business approach in order to remain relevant and to thrive.
Being competitive is often encouraged in our society, especially amongst women. However, a good leader understands the power that’s created when there’s unity amongst mortgage professionals. A leader sees value in collaborating, so they’re willing to work together for the good of the industry. That’s why leaders must be willing to set the example of what collaboration and teamwork look like. In order for women to become key players in leadership roles, they have to build bridges with one another, instead of opposing each other. Women accomplish more when they work together and support one another. When one woman reaches out to help another woman, they both win. As you celebrate another woman’s accomplishments, you not only empower her but you uplift women everywhere. It’s when women work together that they have the greatest impact. One woman can make a difference but together, women can rock the world.
Be a Mentor
Ultimately, being an example of the leadership you want to cultivate is the best way to ensure it happens. It’s not enough to simply recognize that we need more diversity in mortgage banking, we each have to do our part to open up opportunities. As you assume a greater leadership role, reinvest what you’ve learned in grooming a new generation. If strong character, integrity, and assertiveness are what you aim to cultivate, then you must first demonstrate these traits. If you value innovation and cohesiveness, then show your team by being receptive to new ideas and creating an environment that facilitates working together. Building diverse leadership begins with mentorship. Creating the right leadership begins with being the kind of leader you want to see developed.