How to lead like a top executive

Lenders from across the industry share what makes a culture of excellence

Most organizations believe that culture is the key factor of excellence, yet few are intentional in making it happen. Recently, XINNIX brought together some of the mortgage industry’s very best executive leaders to share what building a culture of excellence means to them and their companies. Here is their best advice.

Build your mission on respect, honesty, trust and integrity

When you care about your associates, they will care about you and the mission of the organization. If trust, honesty, integrity and respect guide every interaction within your company, these same principles will carry over to interactions with customers. A culture of respect sets the stage for a culture of high performance.

Be extraordinarily customer-centric

Great leaders know they need to empower their teams to serve customers well. They remove any barriers that prevent them from effectively doing their jobs. Loan officers need the freedom to build exceptional relationships with individual clients and in the community at large. Be known as the organization that, above all else, provides the highest-quality assistance to every customer.

Foster a highly collaborative team environment

A culture of excellence is a culture of collaboration. When problems arise – and they will – a team that knows how to work together will be much more successful than individuals who are going it alone. 

Leaders should empower their teams to be collaborative, bringing associates with various strengths and skills together in order to develop the best possible resolution. A team with a shared work ethic, vision and process for problem-solving will excel in the face of the challenges that inevitably come with an ever-changing market.

Embrace the philosophy of servant leadership

The traditional leadership model is a pyramid, with leadership at the top and management, employees and customers falling under them. However, the servant leadership model subverts this placement. 

Servant leaders know they work for their employees, who in turn work for the customers.They care for every member of their team the same way because each person plays an integral part in the sales process and contributes to the growth of the organization. 

They mentor and coach as many associates as they can and then empower those associates to do the same for others. Servant leaders understand that their role is to ensure the success of everyone else.

Seek wise counsel when making decisions

Strong leaders seek out wise counsel in order to make critical decisions to find the best possible outcome for the organization. Whether referred to as a steering committee, leadership council, inner circle or otherwise, these spheres of influence are a sounding board and impact how the business runs. 

No leader, no matter how powerful the position, knows all the answers to all the issues they will face. In fact, one of the most critical decisions any leader will make is whom they select to help them lead. Seeking out the help of others is a sign of strength. 

Invest in professional development and training

Every team member benefits from a solid professional development and training program, yet it’s easily forgotten amid the pressures of everyday business or dismissed when margins are tight. 

However, leaders who make training a priority see the investment is worth it. For one, it helps to attract and keep great employees who are dedicated to improving their performance. It also serves as an excellent recruiting and retention tool. Offering continued education adds value, builds loyalty, increases reputation, and brings in good people.

Organizational culture and engagement drives sales performance

The higher the engagement level of your team members, the higher they will perform in their role within the company. According to the Corporate Leadership Council, 76% of the workforce expresses ambivalence toward their work experience. 

While willing to commit for the right reasons, these employees have not yet found those reasons — or enough of them. Their success depends on engaging with the company’s culture. A culture of excellence will manifest itself into a high performing team, bearing fruit throughout the organization.

It’s important to measure the engagement consistently through methods such as annual feedback surveys or focus groups, which help leaders ensure the engagement level remains high and is consistent long term.

Take responsibility for your team’s success

The nation’s best executives live by three words: “I am responsible.” True leaders take responsibility at all times for the big picture and ownership for the actions of their teams. 

Taking ownership means leaders must hold themselves responsible for the successes and failures of the organization. Leadership involves putting structure beneath the team to allow them to reach to the level of success they want to achieve. 

It also means removing any barriers that are preventing them from being successful. Good leaders are intentional about getting to know their people and what makes them tick. 

The more leaders know about their people, the better they understand what could be causing them to fail or succeed at their jobs.

Accountability is vital to success

Accountability is the secret weapon for faster growth. An accountability partner helps individuals grow by offering guidance and holding them to their commitments. 

While it’s similar to a mentor relationship, the accountability partner or team steers each individual employee toward best practices, processes and daily activities needed to take them to the next level. 

Holding teams and individuals accountable is not only incredibly impactful to their success, but it is also good for the organization. Yet, most companies do not have the expertise or capacity to drive this internally or to do it well. 

In most cases, it is critical to outsource this initiative to a proven provider that can dedicate the needed time and attention. The team and company will benefit exponentially.

Put in the work!

The most successful sales people have one thing in common – they work really, really hard. For those that have not yet reached top-producer status, one of two things is missing: a lack of will or skill. 

If they are lacking will to put in the necessary work, it can be very difficult for successful change to occur. 

However, if they lack the skill but are willing to change if given the right toolset or environment, leaders should invest in these people, because they have the potential to become top performers in the organization.

Taking an individual team member through this transformation is a true testament that a leader is dedicated to fully serving their employees. 

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