The Barclays Libor scandal (Feb 2013), raises a number of uncomfortable questions. Why did the leadership of Barclays act in the way they did?
Ask any senior executive of any sized company, if honesty prevails, they will tell you how tough it can be making difficult decisions. Ensuring a company stays afloat puts inordinate pressure on the top decision makers.
Personal status, reputation as well as the incalculable effect of a business going bust means most executives will do anything they can to ensure the business stays solvent.
So what pressure had been exerted on Barclays senior leaders? It’s nigh on impossible for anyone not directly involved in the 2008/9 financial collapse to understand the pressure suffered by those executives (and politicians).
There was a run on a number of banks (remember Northern Rock?). Loans dried up. The Libor rate shot through the roof. Governments started printing money. The reverberations took whole countries to the brink (and there’s more fallout to yet come).
So what’s the real lesson here? Is it that we need greater regulation to curtail mankind’s greed? I suggest what was lacking was great leadership and personal responsibility. The banks, politicians and society as a whole colluded in this great swindle. In this age of celebrity status what’s needed is leadership which is not afraid to take responsibility, grasp and own the reality, communicate clearly and effectively, make difficult principled decisions, all the while knowing that such a leader is imbued with moral fibre, power and authority if they act to serve the people they lead.
If such leadership had been present prior to the collapse what might the world have looked like now?
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