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Gamechangers: Leadership Advice and Tools That Enhance Careers

Editor's note: This feature appears in the July 2021 edition of MReport Magazine, available here. 

Over the years and throughout roles, people often receive something that sticks with them, and which helps them become the leader or employee they strive to be. Whether it is excellent advisors, managers, and mentors, or a book, leadership course, and so on, there is always a source to greatness. For those in leadership roles, the goal is to strive toward becoming that person for your team: a confidant and advisor, as well as the person to lean on when they’re facing challenges.

As a leader, there are many lessons to be learned and carried on to your team. It’s time to look at your arsenal to confirm that you are doing your best and instilling the best in your group. With that said, let’s discuss some methods for being a great leader, guiding great future leaders, and the tools along the way that help with making game-changers and creating a significant impact on the team and the business as a whole.

Top Three Pieces of Advice
Over the years, you will learn many lessons, but only a few stick with you throughout your career. Both inside and outside of the office, whether it is through great managers, mentors, colleagues, or close friends, there are some great pieces of advice. Here are three that can apply no matter what position you hold:

I. Treat Others How You Want to be Treated
Regardless of industry, one piece of advice applies to everyone: treat people the way you want to be treated. Through this golden rule, success is essentially inevitable. It is about the task at hand and making sure everyone is spoken to and treated respectfully.

The more generosity and kindness you put into something, the more you will get back. People remember how people present themselves and how they treat others. If treated with respect, you will get more out of your managers, colleagues, employees, and anyone else you work with.

II. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks
While taking a risk can be scary because of the unknown outcome, some of the most significant risks can be very rewarding. No matter the size of the risk, each opportunity comes with a lesson, whether successful or not. Even if the taken risk is not successful, it can be a huge learning opportunity.

As a manager, you cannot be successful unless your employees make a difference. Empower your employees to take risks that can positively impact business practices and your team. Let employees know that their voices are heard and make a difference in their career and the company’s overall good.

III. Provide Honest and Timely Feedback
When it comes to both giving and receiving feedback, it is not always the most comfortable conversation. However, it is the most beneficial. Feedback is the area in which people learn the most, regardless of whether you are a manager or an employee.

Managers sometimes struggle with giving feedback because it is uncomfortable—especially for new managers who may not have as much experience providing feedback to their team members. It may be more helpful to approach the input as a teachable moment instead of an opportunity to reprimand. It is better to address missteps or errors immediately. That way, not only can it be corrected, but the employee can continue to learn and understand the proper steps to take to avoid similar incidents in the future.

By giving honest feedback, managers can help employees become better contributors to the business and be part of a team of “greats,” all working toward the same goal cohesively. Think about a rowing team: they can only get so far if they are rowing with the same rhythm and in the same direction. This stands true even for the coach, who must guide everyone properly to ensure all movements are in sync.

Putting Advice into Action
Now that you have worked with your team and shared your best practices, how are you faring as a manager? Are you following your own advice? Of course, it is equally important to continue your training as a manager as you tend to your team.

For managers, especially those who have been in the role for quite a few years, are you looking into ways to update your training methods? If not, maybe it is time to lean on new managers or review newer methods and programs to ensure you are doing your best and continuing to grow.

Additionally, it is essential that you make yourself available to your employees and carve out time to help them be successful. Finally, it is critically important that your employees know that they are individually cared for and valued.

There are many ways you can do this, such as celebrating their birthdays, whether inside or outside of the office; creating a team newsletter that highlights individual success and gives everyone a moment to shine and be recognized for their stellar work; facilitating weekly check-ins, whether short or long, to touch base with everyone to ensure they have what they need to be successful and so you can gauge how they’re doing, both professionally and personally.

Tools for Success
While we have discussed figurative tools and advice in your arsenal, technological and tangible tools also can be used to ensure success. Especially over the last year, there has been more flexibility in technology and processes.

Through tools that offer virtual signatures, electronic documents, and the capability of facilitating and creating appraisals through photo or video, many methods allow mortgage executives to be successful. In addition, many team members can now work anywhere with a wi-fi signal and a phone or computer, which provides a huge advantage and has helped streamline many processes in the industry.

Technology also has become a massive help in the areas of hiring. As we’ve seen that remote work can be highly effective, this has widened the talent pool. No longer are hiring managers and team leaders limited to a small region; instead, they can expand their team regardless of the location.

Changing the Game
While there are many methods to becoming a great leader, a great employee, and changing the game, core concepts like treating people with kindness and respect are essential. Now, more than ever, it is time to ensure you are the best employee and manager you can be, work on yourself, and improve your arsenal of tools to be better.

The point is to push yourself and push your team forward to be great while ensuring that all team members are growing, learning, and performing at their highest level.

About Author: Anne Cassedy

Anne Cassedy is the Director of MI Underwriting at Enact. With over 30 years’ experience, Cassedy leads the Operations Underwriting team. The statements provided are the opinions of Anne Cassedy and do not reflect the views of Enact or its management.
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