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7 Questions on Leadership with Allen Hankins

Name: Allen Hankins

Title: Chief Operating Officer - Technology

Organisation: Triumph Financial

With over 20 years of experience in various industries, I am a technology leader who delivers digital transformation and customer-centric solutions. As the SVP, Technology Operations Officer at TriumphX, I lead the technology operations and strategy for a visionary fintech company that revolutionizes payments and cash-flow management for the transportation industry.

My core competencies include leading cross-functional and global teams, managing end-to-end software development lifecycle, architecting and transitioning technology platforms, implementing agile and devsecops methodologies, and developing innovative digital products and services. I create value for customers, partners, and stakeholders by leveraging data, analytics, and emerging technologies. I have achieved significant results, such as saving $200M in operational expenses, launching a new streaming platform in 11 countries to 14 Million customers, developing the #1 Sports App and the #2 Virtual Reality Sports App in Latin America. I am also passionate about social impact and serve as an advisory board member at Roma Boots, a social enterprise that provides boots and education to children in need.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Allen's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

A leader has to be willing to be misunderstood. It requires making difficult decisions that not everyone may agree with and in fact may disagree. However, a leader has to be willing to lead the team forward. Leadership is one of the most humbling roles if you take the mindset of a servant. A leader should be quick to take responsibility for issues and even quicker to give credit to team members for a job well done. Great leaders take time to understand the people that work with them and what motivates them and consistently remind them of their why. These are just a few of the challenges, but with the challenges are great rewards. I've been able to celebrate with teammates for weddings, babies being born, becoming citizens of the US, as well as mourning with people over the loss of loved ones. Getting to share life with people is one of the greatest gifts a leader can experience.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

First it's important to define a leader. I think most people think leadership is a role, but I've always been taught that leadership is a mindset. Meaning you can lead by influencing people. With that mindset we all have been influencing one way or another for our entire lives. However, I probably experienced my first leadership role within sports as I was a state champion wrestler as a Sophomore in High School. I went on to wrestle Division 1 and then coached Division II team. Learning to be part of team and what role you play in that team as well as continous learning are key concepts I learned starting in high school. My high school coach said, "if you miss one day of practice you will know, if you miss two days of practice your competition will know, if you miss three days of practice everyone in the gym will know." The point is leadership is setting a high standard for yourself and holding yourself accountable to do the hard work even when noone is watching. You want a cheat code do that for 12 months and see how much progress you make personally and professionally.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Being intentional and having a plan is very important. I know many people are looking for a blueprint, but I would suggest it's good to know when you are at your best. Plan to do your hardest work then. For that reason, I spend the first hours of my day reading, journaling and meditating as these are my best hours and I want to invest in myself so I can give or serve those that I lead.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

You can learn as much, if not more, from the bad leaders you encounter as you do from the good ones. In all cases, make note of behaviors you want to emulate and those that you hope you never do. Care about the people first, and they, in turn, will work hard for you. If you don’t care about people, you will never lead them. In addition, don't ask your people to do something you haven't or are unwilling to do.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Early in my career, I was always good about getting individual tasks done. However, I had to learn about how to depend upon others and this wasn't as easy. I've learned through a lot of mistakes, but "Leadership and Self-Deception," was one of the most impactful books to my leadership journey. The book is a guide to becoming self-aware by learning to see your faults more accurately, understanding other’s strengths and needs, and leaning into your natural instinct to help other people as much as possible. From that book it opened my eyes to Emotional Intelligence and started working with a leadership development coach and worked through, "Emotional Intelligence 2.0," by Dr. Travis Bradberry and Dr. Jean Greaves. It was within this book that I found the framework of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management that has helped me to understand what is going on in my own head and heart.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Offering just one piece of advice is hard, but I would say.

Focus on building character and being a person of integrity while you are building your skillset. If given the opportunity to expand, I would also say based off having read 1000's of books and you can learn a lot from books, but I would suggest tackling real world problems to grow your skills. I would also suggest tackling a broad set of industries and problems so you don't limit your options on what you can solve.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

One of the most meaningful memories is when I was working 80 hours/week and building out a streaming TV platform for 14 Million customers. I had over 500 people that I was leading and the pressure of building out the platform and launching was incredibly high stress. With that said I remember our CEO (fortune 10 company) called me on my cell phone over the weekend and he asked me what he could do to help me. I immediately felt important, both seen and heard and I knew I wasn't alone. I was also willing to do whatever it took to deliver so we were successful because I knew I always had an open door to the CEO.

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