By Nigel Aldcroft
Antony Jenkins has been Group Chief Executive of Barclays PLC for less than a year and has already made quite an impression within the company. His RISES programme is accompanied by nearly 4000 job losses
A recent article in Business Week suggests that Barclay’s self-described ‘transformational leader’ [image above] faces a number of key dilemmas.
Amid the recent banking scandals, and in an effort to turn Barclays around, Jenkins has announced that following on from a recent strategic review he intends to reduce headcount by at least 3,700 this year across the group as part of the new ‘Transform’ programme.
He recently introduced a plan which creates the positive sounding acronym ‘RISES’ [Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence and Stewardship]. These are not values that immediately spring to mind in banking, yet progress can be seen at most Barclays’ offices.
Jenkins has taken a no-nonsense approach telling staff to ‘shape up – or ship out’ This abrupt and clear approach suggests symbolic leadership signals.
Public Views on Banking
The public opinion of the banking industry in the UK remains negative Jenkins has made publicly clear that each of the 140,000 employees must live the values, or quit .
No doubt his efforts to restore public confidence and restore image will be no easy task. The decision to cut at least 3,700 employees would not have been taken lightly. Quite simply Jenkins has the unenviable task of improving shareholder value and balancing business performance with public opinion.
I have seen enough global redundancy announcements from my own experience to know that if people feel under threat or insecure or uncertain at work; morale drops and productivity decreases.
The announcement of job cuts is consistent with Barclays’ plan to deliver sustainable returns. Now that Jenkins has communicated this to all stakeholders, although no comfort to those members of staff affected, it provides clear rationale behind the decision in a time of environmental turbulence.
Friends in High Places
Jenkins is not afraid of being in the public spotlight and helping others. In October  he shared the stage with the likes of charismatic leader Bill Clinton, the well-known former US president at The One Young World Summit, where he gave speeches to aspiring young leaders. This reflects positively on Jenkins social and ethical leadership focus, which he is trying to re-instil throughout Barclays.
Win, Lose or Draw
If successful in his leadership, stakeholders will be happy, share price will increase, consumer confidence will be restored, and employees will be positively aligned with the new values.
The fact remains however that public perception of a man with a base salary in excess of one million pounds, and multi-million pound bonus and share options will remain under public scrutiny. Stakeholders expect this leader to deliver and at the end of the day he is ultimately responsible for the turnaround.
About the author
Nigel works for Siemens Energy, and is studying on the Finance Accelerated Global MBA Course at Manchester Business School. His pleasures include travel. The blogpost was developed from a leadership assignment he carried out on the course.