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Tim Taylor

Making Great Leaders

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Blog: Four leadership challenges faced by Barclays’ new CEO

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Over the past few months the commercial banking sector has had its fair share of challenges.

The Barclays‘ Libor rigging scandal, negative publicity surrounding bonuses and increased competition from smaller high street banks are to name just a few.
 
No doubt this turbulent environment will present challenges for Anthony Jenkins, who has just become the new chief executive of Barclays. So what are the factors having an impact on the working environment, and how does it affect those great managers of today who could well be leaders of tomorrow?
 
Using the banking sector as an example, and Institute for the Future Bob Johansen’s VUCA explanation, here are just FOUR of the key challenges that Barclays’ Jenkins is most likely to face:
 
V: Volatility
 
Change happens that is undeniable, but keeping up or ahead of that change is paramount. For a long time banks in the UK have only been competing against other high street banks. This is changing, as several UK supermarkets branch out and provide a greater range of financial products and services.
 
U: Uncertainty
 
What puts a supermarket in the forefront of the public’s eye is trust. After what has happened the public have perhaps become sceptical of the power and some have lost trust in the traditional high street bank. A report published in The Times emblazoned with the headline, ‘People prefer to bank with John Lewis’ indicates that customer loyalty is shifting.
 
C: Complexity
 
The challenges faced by the likes of Jenkins are more convoluted. What does a supermarket provide that sets them apart from the high street bank? Ultimately, it is their brand identity that people are drawn to and many perceive them as a far more accessible and customer orientated.
 
Marks and Spencer revealed their first Marks and Spencer bank this week in their flagship Marble Arch store. It boasts opening hours that match the shop, so you can even bank on Sundays, something no other high street bank can boast. High street banks are faced with a dilemma. Do they follow suit?
 
A: Ambiguity
 
It is important to identify clear goals and aims. Supermarkets are extremely confident at doing this. For example, they want to improve their underlying profits, so they formulate a strategy and implement it within days.
 
This is trickier for a bank because it has to comply with strict regulations, but that doesn’t mean it can’t formulate a plan and stick to it.
 
Jenkins could learn a few things from the supermarkets, not only by exploring what makes them such trusted entities, but also by taking a glance at their business model.
 
But how closely are HR departments monitoring the changing environment within their own industry? And, perhaps more importantly, how effectively are they equipping managers for leadership roles with this impending changing in mind?
 
 
Tim Taylor is founder of leadership development consultancy, Making Great Leaders.

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