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Comment: Building career paths in mortgages

Who do you consider a great leader? Is it the inspirational Karen Brady, leading entrepreneur and businesswoman, or the quietly driven Steve Jobs of Apple, whose creativity inspired a generation?

Within the mortgage sector, there are many successful intermediaries. However, there is a difference between someone who excels at their role and a successful leader. So, what takes someone from a good seller to a good manager, or from a great manager to a great leader? And, more importantly, how do they successfully achieve this?

Inspiring others

Securing a role within a broker firm can stand intermediaries in good stead for life and it is not uncommon to hear of those in the industry working their way up the mortgage career ladder. I know several great examples of individuals who have joined mortgage networks mortgage firms in admin roles who have gone on to become practice managers, GI sellers and even top-achieving mortgage brokers. Identifying these career opportunities is key to ensuring staff have clear career trajectories and goals to work towards.

Great leaders build enthusiasm about where the company is going and involving employees in a company’s wider strategy is key. Workers are much more likely to be motivated if they share the firm’s goals, including sales targets, proposition developments and business goals.

Motivating a team based on a firm’s achievements through sharing figures, being open and transparent and making it clear exactly what role each person has to play in the business is invaluable. This will ensure everyone feels motivated to contribute to the success of the business.

Likewise, promoting positive health and wellbeing within the workplace and providing support where necessary – such as openly addressing mental health – should now be a hygiene factor for any business.

Empowering others

 It is crucial to empower others and a great business leader will recognise the strengths of everyone within their firm, as well as areas where they could develop. This will allow them to create a well-rounded team, playing to each person’s skill sets.

Employees should also be encouraged to expand their skills and knowledge sets through training courses or relevant industry events. Asking them how they want to develop their own career and providing them with the tools to do so means they can take control of their own development – and feel empowered to do just that.

Providing flexibly

Sometimes working 9-5, five days a week just does not fit with the demands of modern life. Encouraging positive behaviours in the workplace and offering flexible or part-time working shows leadership at its finest. This is also a great way to retain valuable members of the team who may have small children or other commitments they need to work around.

In an increasingly digital world, it is possible for brokers to work more remotely and as the digital tools available for brokers continue to expand, this type of working behaviour should be an option for all employees. However, this should not replace regular catch ups with your employees – even if employees are remotely based, a strong leader will take the time to have these important conversations.

Instilling a great workplace culture

Being a true leader is as much about what someone doesn’t do as what they do. Often, ruling with an iron fist would not be met with the same level of respect that softer approaches may achieve. Likewise, controlling the business through memos, emails and other one-way communication forms may distance employees from the organisation.

At Primis, we help brokers to be the best leaders they can be, whether they have a team of two, or two hundred. For example, if a broker wants to grow from sole trader to practice, we will equip them with the tools to achieve this.

Great leaders utilise and encompass all of these elements – and often more. It is this that sets them apart from the rest. Warren Buffett, the legendary business leader, once said that it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. This applies just as much to an individual as it does to a business. “If you think about that, you’ll do things differently,” he said. Wise words indeed.

Toni Smith, chief operating officer, Primis

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