The Leadership Imperative: Creating Adaptable Teams


BLOG VIEW: In a fast-moving industry, being prepared is never enough. It doesn’t take a large disruptor – in the environment, the company, or customer base – to render contingency plans unworkable. As a leader, it is a responsibility to lead a team that is fully adapted to a changing market or willing to become so.

When adaptability is built into the corporate culture, companies are well-prepared to navigate change. The ability to adapt to different circumstances is key to operating effectively in a fast-changing industry. To be successful as a company, one must create a culture where the team not only expects the next change, but also embraces it.

This is critically important for mortgage lenders because our industry is always changing. Despite these challenges, lenders still have to make the loan origination process simple and understandable for the borrowers they serve, even in a fast-changing market.

Changes in Home Finance

For many consumers, winning the home finance game means getting the lowest possible interest rate on their new home loan. There is much more to it, of course, but that’s a primary focus.

Naturally, when they try to decipher the messages coming out of the Federal Reserve or its Open Market Committee, they get nervous. Part of that springs from the fact that few are trained economists and therefore most lack the background to decide what these statements mean. The other part is that sometimes the messages are contradictory.

Case in point are the most recent messages coming out of the Fed. One minute, borrowers think they are going to receive a better deal on their mortgages and the next they worry that this isn’t the right time to buy a new home. If a homebuyer isn’t sure this is the right time to buy, the deal will inevitably fall flat.

Lenders have been through home finance business cycles before and are capable of preparing for either another six months of high interest rates or the beginning of a slow decline in rates. What’s harder to prepare for is how consumers will react to market changes.

Consumers, naturally, get excited at the prospect of falling rates, which seemed to be the Fed’s message in December. That has now been countered by the Fed’s revised stance. This has left lenders in flux and consumers hanging in the balance.

Mortgage interest rates are just one example, but it is emblematic of the industry’s rapid pace of change. When things change quickly, one must have an adaptable team in place to ensure operational excellence.

Building an Adaptable Corporate Culture

Creating a corporate culture that values flexibility and readiness to embrace change requires a delicate balance. It must ensure that while the organization remains agile and open to innovation, its employees feel secure and confident in their roles. 

Change brings uncertainty and that slows everything down. Fortunately, there are strategies leaders can use to cultivate a corporate culture that thrives on change.

Lead with Transparency

Transparency from leadership is the cornerstone of a culture that adapts well to change. Employees are more likely to embrace change when they understand its purpose and how it contributes to the company’s long-term success.

Empower and Equip Your Team

Providing employees with the tools, training, and authority to make decisions enhances their ability to adapt to new situations. In a complex business like home finance, technology is a requirement. Providing the best technology is the competitive advantage.

Foster a Safe Environment for Experimentation

Innovation is the child of trial and error. Creating a corporate culture that accepts failure as a step toward success is critical in fostering adaptability. When employees don’t fear retribution for failures, they’re more likely to think creatively and propose innovative solutions.

Encourage Cross-Functional Collaboration

Silos kill innovation. Encouraging teams to work across functions and departments can spark new ideas and approaches, fostering a culture of adaptability.

Recognize and Reward Adaptability

What gets recognized gets repeated. By celebrating individuals and teams who embrace change positively, innovate, or demonstrate flexibility, one reinforces those behaviors across the organization.

Adapting to change is not just about survival; it’s about thriving in an ever-evolving business landscape. By leading with transparency, empowering the team, fostering an environment that encourages experimentation, and promoting flexibility and collaboration, one can build a corporate culture where adaptability is a shared value. 

This doesn’t just make an organization more agile; it also ensures that employees feel valued, secure and confident in their ability to contribute to the company’s success, no matter what challenges lie ahead.

Pedro Garcia is the CEO of Mortgage Cadence, an Accenture company.

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