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What It Means to Lead by Example

I once saw a cartoon that really made me pause and think about what it means to be a leader. In the first frame, there is a man called “The Boss” sitting at his desk and pointing forward. The desk is sitting on top of a giant block, being pulled forward by three other people. In the second frame, we see the same three men pulling the large block, but there is one difference. There is no desk sitting on top of the block; instead, the man who had been at the desk is now out in front helping the workers pull the block forward. In this frame, the man is called “The Leader.”

In the mortgage industry, it’s very easy to get caught up in the “boss” mentality—sitting at our desk in the corner office and barking out orders. We may even feel sometimes like we’re entitled to such a position. We worked hard to get where we are, so why do it any other way? The simple answer: the success of our organizations depend on it.

People will only do the bare minimum for a “boss,” but they will willingly bend over backwards for a leader. And the difference between a leader and a boss is that the leader is willing to get his hands dirty. The boss says, “Go!” But the leader says, “Let’s go!” If you aren’t willing to get out in front of your people and show them how to get the job done, then they aren’t following you; they’re dragging you. Work with your people, and they will work with you. So, what approach are you taking in your organization?