Profits Eat Culture for Breakfast


This morning the board of Barclays announced that they had sacked CEO Anthony Jenkins, and that the search for his replacement was ‘underway’.

There seems to have been a rather bad tempered falling out over a lack of both cuts, and profits.

The market has reacted well — shares are up 3% at the time of writing — but it might come as a bit of a shock to those of us following along with Jenkins’ battle to ripen the rotten apple that is Barclays’ culture.

Shortly after joining, and with a mandate to reform the bank’s image, he sent a memo round to 140,000 staff, stating:

My message to those [unwilling to uphold our values] is simple: Barclays is not the place for you. The rules have changed. You won’t feel comfortable at Barclays and, to be frank, we won’t feel comfortable with you as colleagues.

Strong stuff, but evidently not enough. Tony Jenkins was the brand consultants hero. The blue-chip boss that proved ‘purpose’ had a place at the top table. But numbers don’t lie. The board wanted costs down and money up, and it would take one hell of a values document to persuade them otherwise.

So whilst we’re all occupied by building purpose-led businesses, and fostering cultures that prize autonomy and mastery, let’s not forget that if the numbers aren’t there, then nothing is.