In order to be an effective lender in the current lending environment, you need very different skills than what was required just five or ten years ago. Here are ten leadership skills that you must possess if you have your sights set on making a substantial impact at your financial institution.
- Adaptability to change – The lending industry is changing at an extremely rapid pace. The ability to adapt to new products, services, technologies and other market changes is more important now than ever. Just one look at cyber-attacks in the banking industry is enough to illustrate the importance of adopting new technologies in order to stay ahead of tech-savvy criminals; similarly, the quickly increasing popularity of online banking stands to reduce traffic into physical branches – the ability to engage prospects and customers in a collaborative manner is critical to build trust for your bank and yourself as a trusted advisor.
- The Ability to Motivate – Team building is a continual challenge in both the commercial and consumer credit fields. Hence, the strongest and most successful lenders are usually the professionals who know how to motivate and encourage their teams. Great motivators are typically valued for their reliability, integrity and work ethic.
- Authenticity – True leaders appreciate honest feedback from their team and do not dwell on their weaknesses. Instead, they welcome constructive feedback, while discounting superficial ego stroking. In turn, this fosters trust, develops relationships and drives results and is exactly what a leader needs – to succeed – in the current lending and finance environment.
- Company-Focused – Leaders who focus on what they can do for the organization, as opposed to what the organization can do for them serve the best interests of the company. Lending executives who are self-centered tend to only hire or retain lenders who support them, personally. If not corrected this can move the organization toward the wrong goals and weaken the morale of the existing staff.
- Risk Manager – A leader who fosters an open culture and a transparent attitude towards reporting potential risks, without the fear of “rocking the boat”, is well-positioned to prepare the organization to be better risk managers. A quick “Google search” on risk management in the financial sector quickly demonstrates just how much risk management has changed and impacted the way that loans are marketed and underwritten in the US.
This underscores the significance that risk management plays in the consumer and commercial finance industries. In essence, good lenders are very good at assessing and mitigating risk.
- Vision – Today’s leaders must be able to articulate their institution’s vision enthusiastically to gain their team’s support. Lenders who are able to do this should have no problem transferring their energy to anyone that hears the message. Even if you don’t know, or thoroughly understand, your bank’s vision, it’s never too late to define it and begin articulating it to the rest of your lending team.
- How Tough Are You? – Great leaders are usually their own toughest critic, setting high standards and expectations for themselves, as well as the people who work for them. However, keep in mind that while it’s true that tough or challenging tasks inspire heightened efforts, it is entirely possible that you may be too tough.
If your loan officers are too afraid or embarrassed to ask you for help, that’s a good indication that others may see you as too tough.
- Patience – Sometimes the greatest strength that you can have, as a lending executive, is patience. Whether it’s a client who balks at the terms of your loan agreement or a teammate who asks you tough questions about your financial procedures, patience is a virtue that you cannot afford to do without – as a lender.
- Integrity – If you develop a reputation as a lender who will say or do anything to achieve your own personal goals, then your team of loan originators, underwriters and etc. may carry out your directives–but they will also question your motives. If this happens, it won’t be long before they begin second guessing your every request.
- Confidence – Henry Ford was once quoted as saying, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t — you are right.” Perhaps nowhere is this more apt than in the hyper competitive lending environment.
As bank leaders, it’s important that you continue to improve your leadership skills and identify the areas that call for improvement. Doing so can aid your lending career in so many ways. If you’d like learn more about becoming a better lender, visit our blog below for updates on the topic.
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For more information on how to accelerate your lending career, visit us at Omega Performance today. Omega Performance helps professionals in the banking and credit industries through a series of fundamental to advanced e-learning and Skills Application Lab courses. In fact, it’s likely that your financial institution already has an enterprise access license to our e-learning courses.