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Daniel Hammond:

You start off with enabling people, coaching them, building them up, increase their awareness, increase their power to act within limited authority. And then the next step is build good teams.


James Robert Lay:

Greetings and hello. I am James Robert Lay and welcome to episode 235 of the Banking on Digital Growth Podcast. Today's episode is part of the Exponential Insight Series and I'm excited to welcome Daniel Hammond to the show. Daniel is the co-author of the new book, Customer Driven Leadership, that has been held as one of the most effective ways to revitalize and scale organizations, including financial brands and fintechs.


Now, the insights Daniel shares provides a practical path forward that will empower you, that will empower your team to function at your highest potential with the fullest of autonomy, which is transformative, which is required for you to maximize your future growth potential going forward in the age of AI. Welcome to the show, Daniel. It is good to share time with you today, buddy.


Daniel Hammond:

Thank you. James Robert. Appreciate it. Glad to be here.


James Robert Lay:

Before we get into talking about your brand new book, Customer Driven Leadership, what's good for you? What's going well right now, personally, professionally? It is always your pick to get started on a positive note.


Daniel Hammond:

I just got back from El Salvador. Got a really unique invitation. We have a nonprofit called LoveLight Campaign for Central America. We're working with the Episcopal Bishops of El Salvador and Guatemala. The Episcopal Bishop was getting promoted to be the lead bishop in Central America. Two weeks before the event, I got an invite and I really felt like I needed to go. I went and now I know all the bishops, the Episcopal Bishops of Central America. It was really an amazing opportunity just to connect with people you care about, expand your network, and meet people who care about people and want to make a difference in the world. It was a really, really good trip.


James Robert Lay:

I think what you just said right there is so central to our conversation there, connecting with people that care about people. You have published a good book, Customer Driven Leadership. As a fellow author, I always like to get into your mind just a bit. Why? Why? Why write this book and why now? Because I know the effort it takes to bring something like this to bear.


Daniel Hammond:

For me, I always had stories. I've lived a pretty interesting life. Just needed the right opportunity. Being part of Strategic Coach is a big part of that. My number one strength finder is strategic. When I see an opportunity, I know how the pieces need to fall into place. In working in Central America, a partner of mine and I built a nursing school. He's my co-author on the book, Dr. Ted Anders. He's an organizational psychologist. Working together on this project, we completed it. We built this nursing school building facility with the clinic and space for expansion. It's going to last them decades of positive impact in the region.


We were like, what's next? We started this LoveLight Campaign with these bishops. Seeing Ted kind of work in his unique ability, seeing how good he was at focusing on what matters with these bishops that we were working with, I said, "I want to see you work in the corporate environment. I would pay to see that." He said, "Come see my programs and tell me what you think." We've talked a little bit in the past, but if I have a superpower, it's I can break anything. I was an army interrogation instructor. I did cyber exercises where I literally designed disasters. I try to design the worst days you hope you never have.


I saw this concept he created in the mid '90s called Customer Driven Leadership. And as I looked at how would I break this... Because what it is, it's an organizational transformation model. It's servant leadership meets entrepreneurial problem solving, focused on critical data and satisfying customers. I said, "Wow!" This is amazing," because I can see how to slow it down to gum it up. But if you're doing Customer Driven Leadership the right way, it can't fail you because it's self-correcting. Ted calls it, it makes you have a self-winding organization. That was just the natural next step is we've got to get the word out.


He asked me to co-author the legacy edition of his book. The first edition was published in 2000. Now we have all this extra data of the impact it's had had with all sorts of organizations. That's how we ended up publishing a book. I have a workbook coming out in the next couple of weeks, and then I have a third collaborative. Now that you're an author, I got to catch up, James Robert.


James Robert Lay:

It's a journey. I think the more that... That's why I'm so grateful and appreciative for the work that you do because it really is about putting people at the center of your thinking, at the center of your doing, and then you can empower and elevate others to do the same. That is the essence of being customer driven. I want to roll this back just a bit.


When you think about leadership from the lens of financial brands, banks, credit unions, fintechs, you've worked with all of them to, like you said, make their worst day happens so that it doesn't happen kind of a thing, but when you think about leadership from that lens, what are the dangers right now that the dear listener must be thinking about when it comes to leadership in the age of AI?


Daniel Hammond:

Yeah, great question. Let me start with the cyber side of things where I think there can be a lot of improvement done on that. One of the things is let's say I work for a top 10 global bank, but I also know that really I think the struggles are more on the other end of the scale. If you're a small or medium sized bank, it's different. I mean, you don't have 2,000 cybersecurity professionals guarding you 24/7, right? You've got some IT people. For me, one of the things are blind spots. Unless you're asking the questions, you don't know.


If you haven't looked and thought through, what would we do if we got hit with ransomware, then when you get hit, that could be an organizational ending event and extinct like dinosaurs. I think the stats prove that out. It's medium and small size businesses in general, over 60% of them, they think, "Oh, well, I'm not going to be the one that gets hit." But over 60% of them are those mid and small and 60% of those don't survive. I mean, the reputational damage that you'll suffer is part of it. You've got to keep an eye on that. You've got to focus on what are the services that are critical to my clients?


What's the data that's critical to my clients? Make sure you're doing the right things to protect that. That's the cyber perspective. You want to follow up or should I hit the...


James Robert Lay:

No. Keep going. We're going to come back and I want to bring this back to a couple of different points.


Daniel Hammond:

Okay. Kind of from the Customer Driven Leadership side of things, it's all about focusing on the things that matter. I see a lot of competition between teams at banks. It's like, "I have my team and you have your team. Yes, I've got to give you this," but how many teams are focused on, "Hey, what do you really need? How can I best serve you?" Kind of that servant hearted. I'm at the John Maxwell event this week. I'm a certified coach and part of that team. It's great to plug in where you look at things up, how can I serve people better, and then you take it to the next. The next team goes, "Well, how can I then serve my clients internal and external better?"


One of the things that Customer Driven Leadership focuses on too is all your customers aren't the same. They have different needs and different wants and different desires. If you're not looking at it holistically and saying, "I care about how you want a bank or a fintech to serve," and give a feedback loop. Let them tell you, "Hey, you're missing the mark." So that when things start to shift away from you, you can be proactive and make sure, "Hey, things have changed and I want to continue to serve you where you are now, not where you were five years ago when last I checked in with you."


James Robert Lay:

This is what I want to loop back on, is this idea of servant leadership, of thinking beyond ourself. Because that eliminates the silos, that eliminates the fifedoms, that eliminates the political struggle that we see, particularly, like you said, the larger the organization, the more ramifications some of these issues have that they reverberate throughout the organization, but then also can go external as well.


And that creates its own risk profile in and of itself. But when you think about servant leadership within financial services, at a bank, a credit unit, at a fintech, what prevents servant leadership? Because this is cultural transformation too. What prevents servant leadership from taking root and blossoming, and then ultimately producing fruit?


Daniel Hammond:

I would say, just to flip the script, where I kind of talked about the struggles of the smaller organizations, they might, because they're closer to the clients, they're probably doing this better. Then you get into the big a hundred thousand plus people organizations, that's where I think it's very easy to lose your way. You get the social pressures of, oh, well, we've got to focus on the societal, what matters today. As much as you want to be a good citizen, you've got to look at what's fair and what's right. I look at the corporate culture and I see so many people... At least this was my experience. In the military too, there's only so many gold stars to hand around, right?


I mean, if we're on a team of 10 people and we're all dragon slayers, why is it that only two people can get a gold star? No matter how good the other eight are, they're not going to get that gold star and they're going to feel less than. That's not a good way to assess talent. That's kind of one of the principles we use in Customer Driven Leadership is the teams are evaluated as a team. Let me use my unique gifts to help the team move forward and score us as a team and then assess also, hey, how is Daniel as a teammate? Is he doing the things that he needs to do to help us be successful?


That way if you have somebody that's falling short, you can give specific measurable, when you don't engage the client in this particular way, you're no longer following our vision or values. It's specific feedback that they can use to become a better teammate, to deliver better for the organization. You're measuring those things, you're doing the things that help the organization and make it more impactful for the end customer, the users, and whatever it is. I use user because we got clients and we work with organizations, nonprofits, things like that. It's not always a paying customer.


James Robert Lay:

Right. I want to stay on this idea of maybe leadership versus the team, because this is a trend, a pattern that I'm starting to see, actually just read an article in HBR, Harvard Business Review, about this, looking from organizational transformation and what was traditionally, historically known as "leadership development" compared to really team development and why thinking about the team versus the leader. What's the shift that you're seeing through your work and the conversations that you're having of going from we'll call it traditional leadership development, but now maybe it's elevating a team through coaching that team?


I mean, we're both part of Strategic Coach. We're experiencing that ourselves and the value that comes from connecting and collaborating with others versus just it's an individual one-off, because I think that's a big transformational pattern trend that we've started to see that I'm predicting will continue to trend going forward at least over the next decade.


Daniel Hammond:

Right. I would say, I think leaders, they know, oh, to get to the next level, we've got to check some boxes, increase their awareness and sensitivity. When I think of a strong leader, it's who are they serving and how well are they serving them? That's really the whole principle of Customer Driven Leadership. It completely flips the hierarchy of the organization so the leader is at the bottom. Instead of me being a team leader and telling my team, "Hey, I think you're an eight and you're a seven and you're a five," you'll lose the intangibles, right? Daniel's smart with computers, maybe he's also the IT support guy for the team.


Maybe he gets a few less sales, but he keeps the team up and running so that everybody else is doing what they need to do to be successful. Then the leadership gets a scorecard and basically says, "Look, I'm willing to be graded on how well I serve you," and then we look at the data. There's no opinions on it. That's the thing, you got to take the... Whether I like you or not, you did it or you didn't do it. And then I have room as a leader to grow and develop. I said I was going to let you have ownership of this process and four times this month I meddled. Mark me down, so that I know, "Man, I told you guys I would do it and I didn't do it. Now I'm accountable."


James Robert Lay:

I'm very intrigued by flipping, we'll call it flipping, the org chart upside down. I know in a lot of the coaching that I've done with financial brands and fintechs, I make that very recommendation. It's very interesting, because literally, you'll flip it upside down. At the bottom, you have the board and it's an inverted pyramid. At the bottom, you have the board, and then you have CEO, and then the C-suite, and then SVP, and then VP. I have seen people get offended. It's very interesting to watch their reactions. They get offended because they have perceived themselves up to this point sitting at the top.


But when you flip the chart upside down, they're at the bottom. I'm curious, and the reason that I do this is when it comes to Banking on Digital Growth and a lot of the methodologies that we teach and coach, it does require a servant leadership perspective. Even the very essence of the mantra "help first, sell second." It's a core element. It requires a belief system that you are there to support and elevate someone else to help them realize their full potential. What is it though with leaders getting offended by flipping the org chart, for lack of a better word, upside down and taking on not being at the top, but now they're at the bottom?


Daniel Hammond:

I think John Maxwell would say they have a low leadership lid, which means if you're not willing to listen to feedback... And really, let's be honest, I've been in the room where you've got the executives talking to the managers. What do the executives know about what's going on in the manager's organization? Mostly whatever they've been telling them, unless there's a problem. The people who can best grade you are the people who work for you. I think if you're willing to listen to that and really...


I have a TED Talk in the back of my mind and I've given it kind of ad hoc to some friends, but you start off with enabling people, coaching them, building them up, increase their awareness, increase their power to act within limited authority. And then the next step is build good teams. Use StrengthsFinders or Kolbe or DiSC or something like that where now I understand how to relate better with Janet. She's a D. She just wants the facts. Let me not bother her with the other stuff so that we start optimizing. Use my strengths. Daniel loves to solve problems. Let's bring Daniel all our problems. If somebody has an issue someplace, get Daniel engaged.


He can probably solve it in a 10th of the time. Things like that start creating what we call high performing teams. That's kind of where once you've done those things, now Customer Driven Leadership is the next, right? Now, how do you get those teams working in a high capacity way where they're serving each other in constantly improving not just what team A thinks team B needs, but what team B says it needs from team A and also focusing on the KPIs, right? The things that make the business more profitable, more efficient in time and money and customer satisfaction.


James Robert Lay:

I'm enjoying hearing your perspective on coaching, and I want to dive deeper into that, because I think Customer Driven Leadership, servant leadership, coaching is a natural outcome of these principles put into practice. I've been a big believer that if you can establish a culture of coaching within a financial brand, bank, credit union, fintech, that really opens up exponential growth opportunity to begin to coach account holders, not just offer them a loan or a checking account or an online banking platform or a mobile banking platform, but truly put the transformation of people over the commoditized transaction of dollars and cents.


But that level of coaching I don't believe will happen until a culture of coaching has first and foremost been established internally. How is this possible to begin with internally, to begin to establish this culture of coaching to where we're empowering and elevating others in a way that might feel a bit uncomfortable for the dear listener?


Daniel Hammond:

Sure. Let me give you a general answer, and then I'll give you a specific one. In general, I think especially we're in 2022 and people have got to work from home and now they're starting to be expected to come back into the office. We've got a new generation of people with different expectations of what work looks like. By investing in your people and sharing your vision and values with them and making sure those vision and values are a good fit, but then the next step is let's grow together. By investing in your people, you make them better in all aspects and you also increase their loyalty because they see that you care about their future and you want to empower them to serve your customers better.


I think that's a fantastic just kind of the general idea. And then one of the tools that we have in Customer Driven Leadership is called the Customer Driven Leadership High Performing Teams Readiness Assessment. What it does is it asks every leader in the organization and every employee in the organization broken out by the teams in the organization a series of questions that grades them in seven critical categories that gives you a heat map of where you're strong and where you're weak across the whole organization. That's a super fantastic tool. Then you can go to a coach. The John Maxwell team coaches...


I mean, they're specific coaches. I mean, you can find coaches anywhere. I know the Maxwell team, that's why I'm mentioning them specifically by name and I stand by their reputation. If you go that way, you would find the money you would spend for that coach is going to return dividends and it's going to make your team better understand each other, better understand the culture. It shows that you're investing and you care. It's just an all around win. And then our assessment is you get a subscription for a year. After you get some coaching, you can go back and see how much did it move the needle.


James Robert Lay:

Reassess. Exactly. I want to dive a little bit deeper into this because you're just kind of pulling the layers of the onion back. I'm thinking about questions and concerns that I hear from those in the Banking on Digital Growth University that I have had conversations throughout the industry. When it comes to things like training, coaching, development, they're often the very first things to get cut when things get tough. It's going to be interesting if we roll this conversation back three years from now to see what has transpired over that three year period and who has done what.


I almost liken from a budgetary standpoint, training, coaching, development to that of the marketing team, because right alongside training, coaching, development getting cut and put on the chopping block when things get tough, marketing is right there as well. But these are future focused activities. You stop marketing today, you're not going to feel the pain coming months and maybe even quarters, maybe even a year, but you're going to feel it over an extended period of time. The same thing is true with training, development, coaching. You might not experience an "immediate return" today, tomorrow, next week, next month.


But if you look, like you said, over the period of time, that's where the exponentiality begins to kick in. How can we transform and guide the logical, rational, analytical mind of a financial brand leader who thinks in quarters to think maybe a little bit longer term to really say, "Hey, we're making an investment today that will yield fruit for years to come?"


Daniel Hammond:

A couple of things come to mind. One is you're absolutely right. You're selling out your future when you give those things up. As an investor, you're basically going into the volatility world where you should be more strategic in... I had a conversation with a guy at this Maxwell event. I think is a great story. He was telling me he did a turnaround project and I wish I could give him credit, but I've talked to so many people this week. He did a turnaround project where he came into a factory and the people had been requesting for years for the factory to get painted. He looked around and they were on the verge of closing that factory and laying everyone off and he painted the factory.


You know what I'm saying? What did that message send to the people? We're not going anywhere. We're here. We're in it for the long haul. We're not going to sell out. And then the next thing he did was he looked around and saw what other problems. He's like, "Well, all of these people are contract employees. I'm going to start making them full-time employees so that they can see they have a future here." And all of a sudden, the productivity goes way up. That's the kind of thing investing in the future for your employees does. I mean, my dad was training and development. I've done designed courses for the military. It's important.


When you give that stuff up, it's not going to work for you and for your future. You're basically saying, "All we care about is surviving today." You haven't planted a seed to bear fruit tomorrow.


James Robert Lay:

That right there, if you can just maybe pin this, come back and listen to it over and over and over again. Because since this decade, I've been saying this since the beginning of 2020, buckle up, buttercup, it's going to be a bumpy ride. I don't think we've seen the full volatility yet. When things get tough, lean in. Keep pressing forward. Don't get into that survival mode of the here and the now. Because when you do and you take away that training, you take away that development, you take away that coaching, you're taking away the future of your peers and the people that you're working alongside. But if you're continuously investing with them through the hard time, I've seen it. I've lived it. I've experienced.


I got started really young, at the age of 2021, with this thing, but I lived it in 2008 and I saw it. I saw the organizations that doubled down on training, development, coaching, and then also marketing. They came out 2009, 2010, 2011 exponentially better than where they were. Exactly. It's a major growth curve on the other side. Let's get real practical here as we start to wrap up, Daniel. I appreciate just the knowledge and the wisdom that you have imparted and shared today.


Thinking about Customer Driven Leadership, what can the dear listener do next to get started on this journey? Outside of getting the book, which we're going to come back to in a bit. But let's get real practical, because all transformation that leads to future growth begins with a small simple step forward. What is one small thing that they can do today to begin to make progress towards developing really a culture of Customer Driven Leadership?


Daniel Hammond:

I think one of the things that needs to come early is you need to have a culture that's psychologically safe, where somebody can call out the ugly of the organization. Maybe a good first step would be either getting a third party to come in and look at a piece of the organization, it could be a business consultant, it could be a cybersecurity exercise guy, it could be a coach, a trainer, somebody to come in, it could be a pen tester, look underneath, look at the dark corners of the organization. Maybe it's sending out an assessment to the organization that's just a simple question, what are we not focused on that we need to be focused on?


And just get everybody to give their top answer and look at what you have. Don't stack rank it, right? "Oh, well, seven people said this." Read them all, and then decide, if this one's right, how critical is that to the future of the organization? And just by focusing on the little things that you can do, and hey, maybe it's not a little thing, but maybe you can at least start taking the steps because it's incremental growth, right? The ice cube isn't going to melt at a one degree increase until you cross that 32 to 33 space. But if you're going to stay at minus 50, you're never going to melt the ice cube.


James Robert Lay:

Yep, yep. It's so practical. It's really just asking. It's going all in on people internally, first and foremost. You're asking them really good questions, you're listening to what they're sharing, and then you're also learning through observation. The outcome of this is to identify common people problems causing common people pain. When you do that, then you can begin to develop prescriptions, solutions, cures to those pains. That exercise could then be repeated externally as well. But I like the idea of starting internally first. Because when we take care of our people, when we show our people internally that we care as an organization, as an executive leadership team, that begins to boil over externally.


As I wrote about in Banking on Digital Growth, I got it wrong. That was the whole reason I was like, "Oh, I messed up. I got to write another book to atone for my sins." But I wrote the methodology of DX plus HX equals growth, meaning a positive digital experience combined with a positive human experience will lead to growth. And then very quickly, an early observation through COVID, I was like, "I missed an important element there." I've rewritten the formula for Banking on Change, but it's EX plus HX, so positive employee experience leads to a positive human experience, that is then multiplied by DX, a positive digital experience.


It all comes back to the employee experience for sure. This has been a good conversation, Daniel. If someone wants to continue the conversation with you, what's the best way for them to reach out, say hello, connect with you, but then also grab a copy of your book?


Daniel Hammond:

LinkedIn is a good place to find me. The book is at There's links to the book there. The assessments should be coming online very soon. I'm working on the digital experience as we speak so that I can better serve my customers.


James Robert Lay:

Absolutely. Get the book. Connect with Daniel. Learn with Daniel. Grow with Daniel. Daniel, thank you so much for joining me for another episode of Banking on Digital Growth. This has been a lot of fun.


Daniel Hammond:

Thanks for having me.


James Robert Lay:

As always and until next time, be well, do good, and make your bed.


Brief Summary of Episode #235

As a former U.S. Army instructor, Daniel Hammond likes to break things, especially vulnerable business models.

So when examining the organizational transformation model Customer Driven Leadership, he set out on a mission to find its flaws.

Instead, he joined the ranks of believers, stating:

“If you are doing Customer-Driven Leadership the right way, it can’t fail because it’s self-correcting.”

Now the Managing Partner of Customer Driven Leadership LLC, Daniel joined us to discuss some excellent insights from his book, Customer Driven Leadership - Legacy Edition.

So why should self-correction be top-of-mind in leadership?

“All your customers aren’t the same,” Daniel said. “They have different needs and wants and desires.”

After all, your customers aren’t simply your most valuable asset. They’re your sounding board.

“Let them tell you, ‘Hey, you’re missing the mark,’” Daniel adds. “So when things start to shift away from you, you can be proactive.”

Proactive transformation - that’s Customer-Driven Leadership in action. 


Key Insights and Takeaways

  • What can prevent servant leadership from taking hold (11:10)
  • Why leaders get offended when flipping the organizational chart (18:58)
  • Short-term versus long-term planning and development (26:40)

Notable Quotables to Share

How to Connect With Daniel Hammond

LinkedIn | Website