Leading Change From the Top at Barclays
It’s been another challenging month for Antony Jenkins in his new role as CEO of Barclays, as he continues to steer the bank through the seemingly never-ending mire of allegations, accusations and scandals that continue to dog the industry.
here’s no doubt that he took the helm in full knowledge that stormy seas lay ahead, but navigating a business is tricky at the best of times, let alone when faced with all manner of uncharted reputational hazards.
His announcement of a new code of conduct for Barclays, and the very clear message that staff must buy-in or bail-out, is reflective of his belief in the need for significant cultural change. By waiving his bonus for this year, and changing the bank’s broader reward structure, he is leading by example and taking powerful steps to avoid incentivising bad behaviour.
This is a positive and widely publicised opening move, but it will be interesting to see how he brings the whole organisation along with him. Long-term cultural shifts cannot be dictated, and turning around the super tanker of attitudes within the financial services sector will require resilience and focus at every level.
His actions so far suggest that he understands the need for frank, honest leadership in order to rebuild trust among customers, colleagues and shareholders. However, a recent Guardian poll suggests there’s still plenty of work to be done in the eyes of the general public, with 72 per cent saying that the new value statement alone will not be enough to stimulate the necessary change.
In taking these steps, Jenkins has become a figurehead for no-holds-barred CEO-led cultural change, and a return to the kind of heroic leadership that requires visibility and transparency in the face of any future reputational shocks.
The successful CEO must wear many hats, and Jenkins is proving that communications is very much a part of that remit.