NMP - April 2017 - 72

special focus on LEADERSHIP

a special focus on LEADERSHIP

a special focus on

Leadership: Can It be
Home Grown? By Beth O'Brien
s CEO of a $1
billion company, I
have many
constituents-from
equity and bond
investors to
customers and employees. Yet,
despite their many demands, the
management issue that
consumes most of my thought
capital is not fundraising or client
management but leadership.
Specifically, how as an
organization can we grow
effective leaders of the business?
Training managers is relatively
easy. There is usually a welldefined process and a set of
specific skills. You can usually
distill most of it to a process flow
diagram. Developing leaders is
more complex.
Why do I care so much about
leadership? Because it is the key
to scale. Without it, the
organization can never grow
beyond what one person can

A

APRIL 2017 n National Mortgage Professional Magazine n

NationalMortgageProfessional.com

72

comfortably manage. Another way
to think about it is: If management
is the necessary blocking and
tackling, leadership is the
innovation and idea generation.
You can never break through the
spot you are in without the vision
that leaders bring. I believe
organizational growth is
dependent on the organization's
ability to attract and grow leaders,
not just managers. This is
especially true in a newer
company or with a new product
like Single Family Rental (SFR)
finance.
If you are the CEO of a Fortune
500 company and you need a new
leader for a business line or you
want to launch a new product,
you can retain a recruiter to
specifically look for the leadership
qualities you want. Maybe you can
find the exact blueprint with
someone who has done it before.
Maybe you run a great selection
process and the person you drop

"The other important opportunity to grow leadership
in this business is to make sure your leaders present at
conferences, are the stars of the Webinars and become
known as the industry experts."
in from the outside is effective
from day one and the product
gets launched on time and under
budget ... or maybe not.
Most of us don't have the
luxury of an expensive search and
I would suggest it's not always
the best approach for the
organization. Although a lot of
literature on the subject says
leadership is hard to teach, if you
change your mindset, I think it
can be done. Rather than trying to
teach leadership, learn to coach
for leadership and I think the
results will astound you. Identify
the leadership qualities your
business needs and learn to allow
your employees to develop into
great leaders by emphasizing
growth in those characteristics.
To me, these are the five most
important leadership qualities for
my business and ideas to grow
them:
1. Appropriate risk
engagement
To coach these skills out of
employees, first focus on whether
the organization is blocking any of
these attributes. The path to take
risk and own the outcome is not
always available to the employee.
Even if you think it is, they may
not know it. The culture needs to

support it. You can support a
culture of appropriate risk by
giving people transparency on the
numbers, allowing for mid-stream
changes to a roll out and by
allowing parallel projects and
testing. Encourage dialog. Make
sure it is two-way. Challenge
yourself to support innovation by
not being afraid of being wrong.
Then measure the outcome quickly
so that if you need to change
course you can. A great example
of this process are some of the
social media ideas we have had.
Every once in a while, one of us
has a great idea and we follow up
on it right away. However,
sometimes we are wrong and the
lead data or click through numbers
just don't show improvement. The
key is to keep generating new
ideas and then run with the ones
that work. Don't let the flops stop
the ideas from coming. And
parallel test. A Facebook flop
could be LinkedIn gold.
2. Complete ownership
Complete ownership is sometimes
the most difficult for some
managers but they can't lead
without it. An effective leader has
a holistic view of her business or
business line and never hides
behind the answer that some

a s


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