Archived News

How to Lead When Your Employees Don’t Have to Follow
by David M. Dye (posted by Bankers’ Bank of the West with the author’s permission)

How long can you hold your breath?

Better yet, unless it’s dangerous to your health, try it right now: hold your breath as long as you can.

I’ll wait…

How long did you make it? 30 seconds, one minute, maybe two? Before long, you couldn’t help yourself – you just had to breathe.

In fact, I could offer a huge incentive for you to hold your breath, but no matter how much money I offer, at some point you have no choice. Your body will force the issue.

The fundamental leadership truth you cannot ignore

There are only two things in the world that you have to do: breathe and eliminate waste. Every other behavior is a choice.

You choose how you show up to work each day: Will you give it your best or just occupy space and slide by? It’s a choice you make.

The fundamental leadership truth you cannot ignore is that if it’s a choice for you, it’s also a choice for your team. Everyone is a volunteer.

Show me the money?

You cannot force anyone to do anything.

“Wait a minute, David,” you might say, “if they don’t do their job they can be fired.”

You’re right of course, but that doesn’t change anything. They still have a choice about what they do and whether or not to remain on the team. Think about your own situation: to keep your job, there is a minimum effort you have to put in.

Oddly enough, I’ve never coached or worked with a single leader who wanted a team’s minimum effort. Of course not! As a leader you want motivated, committed, engaged teams. In short: teams that choose to give their best.

The path to engaged teams begins when you realize that everyone chooses:

  • If they will be a part of your team.
  • How they will show up.
  • How much effort they will give.
  • How well they will perform their role.

How to lead when they don’t have to follow

This fundamental truth — that everyone is a volunteer — will change your leadership forever. Every person on your team becomes a gift. Every action they take is a freely given gift. Every ounce of energy they expend on a project is a gift.

Your work as a leader shifts from force to invitation, from control to influence, from fear to gratitude. You won’t lead to wring out the worst, but to bring out the best.

Here are a few specific tools you can use to begin:

  • Connect the “what” to the “why.” Work without meaning is a form of punishment suitable to prison camps. Make sure your team knows the purpose behind their tasks, the value in the organization’s work, and how their work makes a difference. If the work has no meaning — eliminate it!
  • Ask “How can I help?” Your team needs support and training that only you can provide. Make sure they have the training, equipment, and political support they need to succeed. Don’t do their work for them, but help them grow and expand their ability to problem solve by asking critical thinking questions.
  • Apologize when you screw up. Apologizing doesn’t make you weak. It demonstrates courage, builds your credibility, and models taking responsibility when you drop the ball. That’s what you want from your staff, right?
  • Maintain standards and expectations. Volunteers, more than anyone, need to know that their time is valued. When you permit people to underperform without consequence, then you effectively tell everyone who chooses to do their best that they are wasting their time.
  • Say “thank you.” Do you like what your team did? Do they know it? Do you want more of it? Don’t wait to say “thank you.”

Your turn

If you think about your own performance, I’ll bet your best efforts were not the result of money or a fear of being fired.

Leave us a comment and let us know:

  • How have your leaders brought out the best in you?
  • How can you do the same for your team?

Everyone is a volunteer. Lead with gratitude!

David M. Dye, leadership speaker and business consultant, is the author of The Seven Things Your Team Needs to Hear You Say. He will deliver the luncheon keynote talk at the Bank Operations Conference(presented by Bankers’ Bank of the West) to be held in Denver on May 15. To learn more about David, or comment on this article, visit

Consulting firm shares insights on victimization of elders,assessment of compliance risk, and other topicsFebruary 19, 2014

The consulting firm Chartwell Compliance publishes a digital newsletter, Chartwell Compass, which is available on a complimentary basis upon request. The February issue features articles on issues of current interest to bankers. The story about guarding the dignity, safety and finances of the elderly references a publication available through this link on the FDIC website.

To request a complimentary subscription to Chartwell Compass, contact

by Bankers’ Bank of the West Bank Card Division

For those of us in the business sector, the start of each calendar year normally includes goal-setting. Aside from the organizational goals that may be unique to your bank, there is at least one that makes virtually every list, every year—namely, retaining and growing customer base.

If you’re looking to bank more small business owners and entrepreneurs this year, a robust merchant services program is an essential “sticky” product capable of helping you build loyal relationships. Here are some first-quarter action steps that can position you for success the rest of the year:

Give Yourself a Checkup.
Review your merchant services program from the customer’s point of view. Verify that your tellers and customer service staff know how your program works as well as how to clearly explain it to your customers.

Market Your Business-friendly Products.
Educate your front-line and customer service staff to promote all the commercial products and services you offer. Stock up on point-of-service literature on your merchant services and mobile payments options. Update your “public face”— your advertising, lobby displays, and website, among other things—to ensure your business products get the attention they’re due.

Prepare to Deliver.
Being a community bank, you understand the importance of customer service. Training, and re-training, is what will enable your staff deliver the high-touch service your business customers expect. Stay current on changes in the merchant services arena, and alert your business customers to precautions that will help keep them safe.

Finally, keep in mind that Bankers’ Bank of the West’s merchant services program features flexible product offering, quick startups, a dedicated implementation and conversion team, and on-site training for your bank staff. For more information, call MaryAnn Elliott-Supples, SVP of the BBW Bank Card Division, at 303-291-3700 (toll-free 1-800-601-8630), or email

December 10, 2013
A communication from First Data
Note: Please contact MaryAnn Elliott Supples (, Bankers’ Bank of the West, if you wish to coordinate a call with either Mr. Wagner, author of the following message, or your relationship manager.

First Data is making significant changes to our company this year, as part of a transformation to the new First Data. We’ve taken several steps over the past several weeks as part of our ongoing efforts to put clients first, increase operating efficiency and remain competitive in the fast-paced payments industry. We also are working hard to return the company to profitability.

You may have seen some of these steps covered in the news recently. Some of the coverage has been from a very limited point of view, and I would like to put these changes into perspective for you.

First Data continues to be confident in its business model, well-balanced revenue base and market-leading position. The company continues to be the largest acquirer processor in the United States, operates one of the nation’s largest PIN-debit networks, and is a leading provider of credit and debit processing for financial institutions.

In addition, First Data has strong financial backing, solid revenue growth and substantial available liquidity to fund all its operations. First Data has the ability to meet its debt payments through cash generated by its operations and has made all required debt payments on schedule. The company had $359 million of cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet at the last reported quarter. First Data has no material long-term maturities due on its debt until March of 2016.

Through 2012, First Data’s EBITDA, a proxy for cash flow, had a 10 percent compounded annual growth rate over the last three years. Since August 2010, the company has successfully refinanced over $21 billion in previous debt maturities for 2014 through 2016, to 2017 through 2022, activities that have been well supported by Wall Street and our current investors.

Our focus is on you — our clients — and finding ways to help you serve your customers and grow your business. Another part of the evolution of First Data will be in how we do that: driving collaboration with you, innovating new solutions, and facilitating incubation of new technologies with start-up companies. Our recent acquisitions of Clover and Perka and our strategic partnership with Oberthur Technologies are good examples of this.

Our clients are our top priority and we expect the changes we make to be seamless for you – and, ultimately, better for you and your business. I encourage you to contact me directly if you have questions or concerns.

Scott Wagner
General Manager, GSPs & Community FIs
First Data