The mighty and revered CEO came down from the 37th floor unto Human Resources and sayeth: “I commandeth you to transform the culture of this organization and launch it upon a sea of greatness!”
And Human Resources bowed and replied: “Are you out of your mind!”
Several months ago I wrote a blog on the culture of banking: Why Banks Should Focus on Culture, Now More Than Ever. To me the logic is clear. Reputation with consumers and the public is one of the key differentiators between banks and by building strong internal corporate cultures based on service and professional stewardship, banks can begin to reverse the enormous negative brand image and return to the position of trusted institutions.
Well, for the past several months, it seems like no one has been listening to the importance of culture. Following my initial banking blogs I wrote several others after witnessing poor leadership behavior in several large financial institutions. Here are a few of them:
Well, surprise, surprise!! It was announced today that Barclay’s CEO, Bob Diamond, will say in a BBC lecture that bankers “had to become better citizens” and that it is vital for banks to win back the trust of the public.
Great stuff. Now comes the hard part, leadership. Since it is clear to those of us who have been helping reshape corporate cultures for the past several decades that “organizations are shadows of their leaders” I will wait to see what new cultural behaviors Mr. Diamond and his senior executive team are going to display before I get too excited about banks really changing their culture.
All the fancy marketing slogans and massive amounts of money on PR won’t shift the real drivers of culture: leadership behavior and business processes. When they want to charge customers for using Debit Cards I have a pretty good indication of the culture those kinds of business processes signify. And when top banking executives agree to a $200+M fine from the SEC but neither accept or deny guilt, I have a pretty good indication of the openness and accountability of the banking culture.
However, if banks really want to reshape their culture and win back customer trust and public respect, it is possible, but it will take real leadership, not speeches.
Tight Lines . . .
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