NMP - April 2017 - 61

pecial focus on LEADERSHIP

a special focus on LEADERSHIP

The Importance of
Self-Awareness and
Humility in Leadership
By Reza Jahangiri

F

leadership positions, they have
to work to take away their
natural biases, their desire to
gravitate to their functional
expertise, in order to be the
most effective leader. For me, it
is avoiding the temptation to
solve every problem. Stepping
back and acting more broadly

things to the table, and both are
important to the growth of an
organization.
At times, younger leaders have
a tenacity and courage about
them. They can have no fear, be
very smart, and look at problems
differently because they have not
been in the system for a long
time. But, younger leaders can
also be missing a lot of the
wisdom that comes with
experience. I have learned that
there are formulas in
management, in leading people,
that are known by more
seasoned leaders. When
managing 1,000-plus people, it is
nice to have that framework.
Along those lines, experience
goes a long way and is
correlated with age obviously.
You can be a very bright and

continued on page 62

61

n National Mortgage Professional Magazine n APRIL 2017

can be hard. In that respect,
people have to be retrained to
lead, because like anything else
leadership is muscle.
Whether you are a natural
leader or not, there is a lot you
can learn through experience.
You still need to grow, to stretch,
to learn how to be more
effective, and to keep pace with
your organization's growth. Some
of that is through trial and error.
Some of it is from learning from
people around you. For me, as I
brought in senior leaders, I
learned from them. I learned from
our board. I learned from Fred
Thompson. Frankly, I never stop
learning. As our company has
grown, I have had to stretch as
the CEO, like being hired and
rehired at each stage in our
evolution.

natural leader, someone who
spots opportunities, but when it
comes to actually going through
a longer cycle of leadership and
being part of something that is
growing, experience matters. If
you do not have it, then you have
to draw on other people's
experience. Younger leaders
should be aware of that.
Younger or older, humility is
important. You can be humble
and still be hungry and driven,
they are not mutually exclusive.
Humility helps with motivating
leaders in your organization. I
have found that it is better to pull
than to push people. I don't
believe in managing with a whip
or sword. Instead, I like to attract
people with a similar mindset.
People who want to be part of a
movement, to build something,
and to better society. When I say
similar mindset, I mean in terms
of what drives them, their values.
Do they put money first? Or, do
they put helping others first?
That is why a huge part of a
leader's job is to give that sense
of purpose. The people in your
organization need to know the
mission, why they are doing what
they are doing. They have to be
drawn towards that, as well as
the fabric of the people on the
journey with them. You are not
going to attract everyone with
the exact same values, but it
does help when there is a
common thread. When you have
that common thread-like-minded
people who are mission-visiondriven who really want to build
something over the long term-
then they tend to do the right
thing, make better decisions,
build momentum, feel
empowered and get results.
Attracting good leaders to an
organization takes effort though.
What has worked for me recently
is focusing on attracting
impressive people. Put simply,
impressive people attract
impressive people. Secondly,
since we are still considered a
frontiering business, it is
important for me to be candid
about what stage we are in as a
business and as an industry. We
need people that can work in
both entrepreneurial and
enterprise worlds. People who
do not fit in one box but can play
in both arenas. And, for us
personally, people who want to
work in a non-political, flat,
mission-based meritocracy.

NationalMortgageProfessional.com

rom my experience,
most leaders do not
walk into situations
expecting or wanting
to lead. That is not
what drives them. If
they are like me, they are driven
to solve problems or get results.
Those that take leadership
positions for attention or control
rarely last or even make good
leaders. Personally, I have held
leadership positions my whole
life, but ironically I do not identify
day in and day out with being a
leader. That is not necessarily
who I am. What I am is a
problem solver. I am highly
motivated to solve complex
problems. And when I am put in
a situation where challenges or
problems are being discussed, I
cannot help myself, I start
working the problem and the
next thing I know I am leading
again.
In this context, it is not that
someone is born to lead. It is
that some people are driven to
get results or are passionate
about solving problems or great
at execution. Others may be
great motivators or consensus
builders. Because of these
special characteristics or skill
sets, they are naturally tapped to
lead.
It is really not enough to be
"born to lead." Even natural
leaders need training and
development. And, people who
may not have the innate qualities
of natural leaders, whose
personalities may be at odds
with what is typically expected of
leaders-for instance, they don't
sell themselves well, are quiet, or
are not particularly motivating-
should not be dismissed. Not
every leader has a Type A,
extraverted, magnetic
personality. Other traits are
equally important, such as
humility, ability to listen,
profound self-awareness, and
deep subject matter expertise, to
name a few. Many of these
individuals can be groomed and
taught to lead.
Working against your own
nature, however, is always a
challenge. As people grow into

My role as CEO has changed
as we have evolved too. I have
had to learn how to lead at each
stage in different ways. In the
beginning, I was leading as we
built the business. Now, my job
is to set the vision of the
business, turn that into a
strategy, and make sure it is
communicated crystal clearly to
the organization.
In fact, the more experience I
have, the more I appreciate
experience. In that respect age
is a factor. But, age factors into
leadership in different ways. In
other words, younger leaders
and older leaders bring different

a special focus on LEAD


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NMP - April 2017

Contents
NMP - April 2017 - Cover1
NMP - April 2017 - Cover2
NMP - April 2017 - 1
NMP - April 2017 - Contents
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NMP - April 2017 - Cover3
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