Whatever the organisation, history and structure make a difference.
Sir Martin Sorrell Chief executive, WPP
Trying to change "culture" (and I don't like the word, because people use it as an excuse not to change) is more difficult in a multi-branded company that has grown quickly by acquisition (like WPP), than a uni-branded company that has grown organically and slowly (like Goldman Sachs or McKinsey).
In any event, what is needed, in my view, is a chairman/chief executive with a strong, simple vision clearly communicated internally and externally and rigorously agreed with and implemented.
Internal silos and politics, whether functional or geographic, have to be overcome. It will take time, and persistence is required. Reaching deep into the organisation helps as the deeper you go, you generally receive more buy-in. Usually the better the people are, the more difficult it is to convince them and the less co-operative they are. Keep at it.
Samir Brikho Chief executive, Amec
Turning an unfocused, underperforming company into a dynamic consulting, engineering and project management business required a clear vision, a strong, transparent strategy and, importantly, good communication.
As a leader at a time of change, personal style is important. You have to be clear and open in communicating what you want to achieve. You have to be humble, knowing when to listen to the views of others. You need to set ambitious goals, drawing out a previously unimaginable level of performance.
Together, we set about reducing costs, improving margins and focusing on what we are good at. Amec today is a very different company, operating in the strong-end markets of oil and gas, mining, clean energy and environment and infrastructure, investing in customer relationships and employee development and engagement, and looking for growth, including in Latin America, the Middle East and Australasia.
Lord (Digby) Jones Ex-CBI head, ex-trade minister
It has to come from the top, that is the first and most important thing. Whatever you say you have to do. You've got to walk the talk. But it is not just about behaviours, the rewards also have to have a different focus and on different things. Although money is important, more longterm measures are needed, holiday say or other things such as training. Money – business is about making profit – is important but it is about what you need to do to get the reward.
In terms of timing, it takes years, not weeks. Give yourself three to five years. I always say it is about QED. The Q stands for the quality of what they are doing, so you go to the pub and can say you are really pleased with what you do. E is about the environment in which they work. D is the dosh. Q is the most important part.
Colin Mayer Professor, Saïd Business School
Barclays urgently needs to re-establish trust among its customers, employees, investors and the public. To do this it needs to set out what it is going to do that those parties will value. We have completely lost sight of what banks are supposed to be doing except earning huge returns for their shareholders and executives at the expense of everyone else.
Having defined the real purpose of the bank, it should determine how it is going to deliver. What is it going to do to demonstrate credibly to savers and borrowers that it is not there to exploit them but to provide truly dispassionate, objective advice and assistance? How will it commit to persist with providing this when the next financial crisis strikes and it has to shrink expenditure? How will it reconcile these lofty goals with the interests of its shareholders solely in the returns on their shares? If it cannot answer these questions then no amount of rhetoric or good intentions will do anything to reform the bank.
An effective board is capable of acting decisively in aligning the interests of those running the bank with the wider communities that they service. It takes imagination and determination and it needs a board and management committed to achieving it. That unity of purpose may involve some managerial changes but more significantly it is what strong leadership can realise with the chief executive at the helm as its forthright champion. Without that, Barclays' directors can look forward to the ever tightening noose of regulation doing it for them.
Louise Cooper Independent analyst
I believe strongly that corporate culture is set by executives and management – their behaviour and attitudes implicitly tell employees what is acceptable and important and how to behave. Standards and morality trickle down an organisation.
If a firm has been proven to be highly toxic then bosses must leave. That is the first rule. It is very difficult to reprimand an employee for bad or illegal behaviour when it's been previously sanctioned, even encouraged or copied from bosses. Nothing can change without executives leaving.
Secondly, the new team must publicise there has been a change from the old world order. This is what the new boss at Barclays has done. He has sent a clear message to staff that if they don't like the new morality then they should leave. This is also important for clearing out the middle managers who refuse to adapt.
Thirdly, follow the advice of the [former] New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and adopt a "zero tolerance policy". The new standards of behaviour must be rigorously enforced. Fourthly, reward those who embrace the new rules and penalise those who don't – the carrot and the stick.
And finally, for those seeking to make the changes, it is important to realise it is a long process. It is a sad comment on human nature that bad behaviour spreads like wildfire through an organisation and yet good behaviour takes for ever to develop. Leaders get the organisations they deserve.
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