August 2012

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Written by Elizabeth Eyre on 1 August 2012 in Magazine

It seems that the 2008 financial crisis is the gift that just never stops giving.

Even as TJ went to press this month - four long and eventful years down the road - Bob Diamond had just resigned as CEO of Barclays following revelations that the bank had rigged interest rates (acres of newsprint and miles of the blogosphere were immediately devoted to analysing his particular style of leadership) and there were some pretty mindboggling disclosures in the USA about HSBC's money-laundering activities for drug cartels, terrorists and rogue states around the world.

There haven't yet been the obligatory calls for more training in the wake of the HSBC scandal - that's usually the immediate response when a major corporation or public institution gets it horribly wrong - but I'm sure it won't be long.

Compliance training should probably be at the top of the list for HSBC's L&D team. Although it will come too late for David Bagley, HSBC's head of compliance who resigned during his appearance before the US Senate's permanent subcommittee of investigations. At least he took the honourable option, having been found out, of falling immediately on his sword. Diamond, though, having also been found out, opted for the James Murdoch approach with the MPs on the Treasury select committee: "I don't know nuffink, guv, 'onest. It weren't me - it were them 'orrible little blighters wot work for me. 'Onest. Lawks-a-mussy."

The big question now, of course, is who's going to be next? What incredible revelation about a well-known, possibly well-loved, organisation is going to leave us reeling with shock this time next month? And the month after that? And the month after that? The possibilities are endless - the situation is almost EastEndersish in its inexorable descent into despair, betrayal, disappointment and recrimination.

The big question, surely, for the L&D professionals working in these rogue organisations is what exactly have they been doing all these years? Why has the training they've identified a business need for, designed and then delivered failed so spectacularly? What exactly has been the point of all the millions of pounds that have been poured into leadership and management development, when cultures have been allowed to flourish in which illegal activity can take place unhindered and when "leaders" have no qualms about blaming employees quite publicly for such cultures and behaviours?

An L&D professional told me recently that what is needed now is complete behavioural change - nothing less would turn things around - starting at the top with a CEO brave, visionary and authentic enough to take the plunge, supported by L&D. Where he led, others would doubtless follow.

Well, L&D has long yearned to be right in the thick of things, taken seriously as a game-changer. Now an opportunity is here to make a truly momentous change - one that could, in fact, change the game forever - can you step up? Do you have the courage, vision, authenticity - and skills - to help your CEO take it?

Elizabeth Eyre, Editor



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