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I love that cartoon where an alien walks into a 7-11 and says, “Take me to your Liter.”
Okay, that has nothing to do with being a leader, but it’s funny and it sounds like “leader.”
Why would anyone really want to be a leader? That is the guy walking point in a war who always gets shot first. It is so much easier to be a follower. I know, given the choice, I would much rather be a follower. It doesn’t require the brainpower, creativity or problem-solving troubles a leader faces. Still, there are times you have to be a leader, like it or not. Or, at least, I do.
Were you ever been given a group project in school? Isn’t always the way that nothing ever gets done until one person steps up and pretty much does everything. Usually, it is the smart one worried about getting a bad grade. You might say, it is the one who feels an obligation to fill the power vacuum when there becomes a need and the person has a desire and abilities to accomplish the goal. So there are three criteria: Need, desire and abilities
We fill many roles in life and at times we are all followers and leaders in different circumstances. In business, I am a leader. At home, my wife leads and I obey. “Yes, dear.” I let her make the decisions on social activities, furnishing the house, child rearing, even the clothes I wear. I am totally socially inept in these activities. I trust her decision-making and know it will be better than mine. That is why I am a follower.
In one setting, I might be a follower, in another, a leader, as the need arises and my abilities match the situation.
Being a boss does not necessarily make you a leader. Being a leader is something you earn and is not something given to you. Let me give you an example. I call him “The WORST boss in the world.”
I was working at a bank and the boss called a meeting of all the loan officers. He starts off talking about this new boat he just bought. Boy, he loved this stupid boat. The speech was pretty much that his income depended on our sales and we should help him make lots of money to pay for this boat by getting more loans. It was the worst motivational speech ever!
I have been in similar situations where I have been the boss and I had to motivate my loan officers to get more production. This is what I told them. “How can I help you make more money? Because when you make more money, I make more money.”
Morons think that “all being the boss means” is that you get to order people around. That is why they are morons. Nothing can be further from the truth. It is all about motivating people. And how do you motivate and influence your minions to do you bidding? Simple, find out what they want and help them achieve it. Not only will they do it, they will love you for it.
Now comes the hard part about being a leader. You have to plan, organize, motivate and get your people striving for a common goal that helps both you and them. It can’t help just you, and it certainly can’t just help them. What is the point in that?
I told you being a leader is harder. It is just so much easier being a follower. Just tell me what to do, how to do it and when. I will do it.
The trouble is, there are so many bad leaders out there. How can you trust your leader not to just lead you off a cliff? That is why I never joined the military. My biggest fear was that my superior would be one of those morons: “Go take that hill! Oops! Wrong hill, my bad. Sorry you were killed.”
In many things I do, I prefer to be a follower, but, there are times when I just cannot stand it any longer and feel the desire to take the leadership role just for my own sanity. If I see a situation going off the rails, I just have to step in and fix it. It is my nature. I cannot help it.
If you are like me, you probably own your own small mortgage broker shop already. That’s why I started mine years ago. The boss was an idiot and I just couldn’t stand it any longer.
If you aren’t like me and have no idea what I am talking about, you are a great follower. There is nothing wrong with that. The only way a leader can lead is if there are followers to follow. The vast majority of people are followers, obviously, which is a good thing. We all cannot be leaders all the time, every time. If we were, nothing would ever get done. Just recognize, as a follower, you are putting your fate into someone else’s hands.
Eric Weinstein worked in banking, on the commercial real estate side until 1991, when he fell in love with residential lending. In 1995, he started a small mortgage company in his basement called Carteret Mortgage Corporation, which in 2003, grew to one of the largest mortgage broker companies in the United States. Eric is semi-retired, doing mortgages by referral only. He may be reached by phone at (703) 505-8692 or e-mail EWeinstein4u@gmail.com.
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.