Deeper Thoughts
True Mentors Don’t Demand Confidence—They Instill Competence

I had the privilege recently of speaking with Michele Kryczkowski, an accomplished mortgage leader with over 20 years of experience in the space. We talked quite a bit about one of my favorite topics. It’s also a topic I believe doesn’t get nearly enough attention in the mortgage world, either: mentorship.

The true meaning of mentorship

For whatever reason, some folks assume “mentorship” needs to come through some kind of formal program with titles and labels. But it’s much more than that. This is an industry that’s incredibly complex and, let’s face it, not incredible about nurturing its newcomers. If anything, it’s been said more than once that the mortgage industry tends to eat its young. Too many of our decision-makers believe more in paying dues and learning “the hard way,” leading to intolerance for the inevitable mistakes that come with learning. Or, better yet, we assume that youth is automatically lazy for questioning the way things are done, even if we can all agree that some of the ways things “have always been done” are nothing short of foolish! 

So, as Michele so appropriately pointed out, “mentorship” can be something as simple as being willing to take a moment to answer a question. By the way, mentorship is also a great way for even the most established veteran to learn a little something, too. Communication and community are all but impossible without a two-way dialogue. 

Effective results require effective resources, not just demands

There’s also a huge difference between setting mandates and expectations without providing resources–including training and mentorship. We love to throw the word “accountability” around in just about every office culture there is. But we all know that the range of definitions for that word is huge. For some managers and leaders, “accountability” is an excuse to crush someone for making a mistake or failing to “pay their dues.” Just demanding results isn’t leadership. Instructions or pep talks that end with “whatever it takes” tend to be the battle cry of lazy, inefficient managers.

It’s one thing to demand confidence. But true leaders and mentors help instill it. The best provide the resources and opportunities (including a tolerance of well-intentioned mistakes) to nurture, encourage and inspire their employees and partners. I’ve found that, in companies where such mentors can be found, you’ll usually find the most innovative and productive employees, and managers, you’ll find anywhere in the industry.

Just because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean we can’t reconsider it

I’ve mentioned before that I came up in this industry, on the vendor side, with my family’s title agency. I’ve been extremely fortunate to discover my own share of mentors, both within my company and through my outside networks. I’m glad to say that I was encouraged by the right people to keep asking questions–”why DO we use templates, spreadsheets and manual Internet searches to determine TRID fees again?”

Thankfully, enough people did not answer that question with “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Because of that, and because of even the smallest touches of mentorship, I’m proud to say LodeStar is what it has become today.

We at LodeStar are grateful to all of our clients, friends and colleagues who take the time to view Deeper Thoughts. Please consider having a look as well at some of our other great content, including our podcast, “LodeStar’s Lending Leaders,” and A Tale of Two Mortgages: an original webcomic for the mortgage industry, presented by LodeStar.”  As always, your feedback is welcomed and appreciated!