Daniel J. Schrider likes to fish. His LinkedIn photo depicts him on a boat holding up a lunker.
Schrider, the president and CEO of Sandy Spring Bank, the largest bank headquartered in Maryland, caught another big one earlier this fall when his bank agreed to buy Revere Bank for about $461 million, further expanding its presence in Baltimore and the Washington suburbs of Maryland.
It’s Schrider’s 30th year at the Olney-based bank, since joining the company in 1989 as a commercial lender. He became chief credit officer in 2003 and president and CEO in 2009, when the economy was in crisis and some banks faced significant capital issues from overexposure to real estate lending.
Under his leadership, Sandy Spring Bank has grown rapidly through organic growth and a series of acquisitions. When the Revere deal goes through, Sandy Spring will have more than $11 billion in assets.
Those employees joining from Revere apparently have a lot to look forward to in terms of leadership.
Asked why they loved their job, one employee said: “Where do I begin — the CEO.”
“The CEO sets a tone that is unique,” said another. “They genuinely care about their community, clients and employees.”
“I feel trusted by my management and senior management,” said a third. “I have the highest confidence in our CEO and the executive team he has put together to keep the bank going in the right direction.”
Not bad for a guy who gave up being a butcher to follow his father into banking.
Schrider took a break from working on the Revere deal and running Sandy Spring to answer a few questions from The Baltimore Sun about leadership:
What is a leader’s role in building a place people want to work?
As the leader of this company, I feel a great sense of responsibility to foster a culture that values people and relationships. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it is the foundation of a great workplace and a successful business.
That’s why every business decision that we make we evaluate through the lens of the impact that it will have on our people — our clients, shareholders, employees and community — and how it aligns with our culture. And, we proactively seek out ways that we can improve. If we stay focused on these things, then we will continue to be a place where people want to work and grow their careers over time.
What is your influence on your organization’s culture?
As we continue to grow and operate in this highly competitive market, I am focused on making sure that we stay true to who we are and what we value: relationships, integrity, community and a drive for performance. In order for our culture to succeed and thrive over time, it has to be backed up by clear expectations and actionable strategies. It has to be consistently communicated and demonstrated, from the top down. It has to be embraced by every employee, no matter where they sit. It has to be celebrated.
We take this strategic approach to culture, because we have made the decision that we do not want our culture to be dictated by a moment in time, a business strategy or any one person. For more than 150 years, the leaders and directors at Sandy Spring Bank have always prioritized the stewardship of the organization and the continuity of our culture. Because at the end of the day, that is what will outlive all of us and that is what will drive sustainable, purposeful growth.
What’s the hardest lesson about leadership you’ve learned?
A critical part of leadership is bringing together a range of perspectives, opinions and areas of expertise, but it isn’t always easy. Everyone comes to the table with their own set of experiences and ideas, and it is essential to truly listen to people and understand where they are coming from. For me, that’s the part that I love.
The challenge comes in narrowing the gap between people and building consensus. In my experience, one of the best ways to do that has nothing to do with whatever decision is in question or task is at hand. It’s all about having a personal connection with someone, because you will get to that common ground a lot faster and on much better terms.
That’s why we encourage employees to regularly volunteer with their teams or to do something fun in the community together, because connecting outside of our day-to-day work is where honest and real relationships are built. We all want to feel like we belong and a sense of purpose — and that starts with being connected to the people around us.