Dick Banks: Qualities that every good leader must possess

dick-banks1A message from Mercy Housing President, Dick Banks…
As Mercy Housing ventures further into this challenging year, I want to offer my perspective on how Mercy Housing has grown as an organization. What strikes me is the increasing quality of its leadership – at all levels from top to bottom. Within the last year, we have welcomed Chief Financial Officer Vince Dodds, Vice President of Resource Development and Marketing Garth Jordan, and Vice President of National Lending and Development Consulting Julie Gould. These top-rate professionals join an already impressive leadership team at Mercy Housing.

Given the mounting challenges to complete our mission, we must hone our skills in all areas, especially leadership. Successful leaders all have one thing in common – they are passionate about their pursuits. As I look around Mercy Housing, I see many devoted, passionate people that truly care about the mission they serve. The question is how do successful leaders maintain this high level of intensity day in and day out? The answer separates the truly good leaders from the rest.

Here are three qualities that every good leader must possess.

Focus: Leaders must have the ability to focus consistently on a common set of goals. This trait takes clarity of thought and action, excellent communication skills, and an ability to cut through red tape and not become bogged down with incidental issues. For instance, to respond to the foreclosure crisis and communities’ need to put foreclosed homes back on the market, Mercy Housing created Mercy Portfolio Services, a subsidiary of Mercy Housing that will work with communities to use Neighborhood Stabilization funds to buy foreclosed houses, rehabilitate them and sell them at affordable rates.

Commitment: One of the leadership qualities taking shape at Mercy Housing is what I call “ownership of his or her backyard.” This means demanding the highest standards, holding yourself accountable, thinking about the “whole” project and not just your “part,” and planning ahead to be pro-active. Mercy Services Corporation asked its more than 830 employees to take part in Operational Excellence, a nationwide program that encourages property managers, maintenance workers and other property staff to do their part to increase occupancy, raise their properties’ level of professionalism and work seamlessly with on-site resident services staff. These individual efforts are resulting in organization-wide success.

Respect: As one of our core values, this quality is fundamental to long-term success in creating an environment that considers people’s situations and feelings. It is up to each Mercy Housing staff member to foster this environment. When people lack respect for each other, they put up a barrier to communication. Of the three leadership qualities, Mercy Housing excels at this one the best. It is our respect for our residents, our supporters and each other that is at the heart of why we work endlessly to create stable, vibrant and healthy communities across the United States.

We want to be able to identify and focus on issues, take charge of tasks and do so in a manner that encourages us to want to do it again. Mercy Housing has come a long way within the last two years in all of these areas. As supporters of Mercy Housing, you should feel very proud of that fact. I know I do.

Dick Banks
PresidentMercy Housing