Changing ‘The System’ from within.

With many of my clients I have discussed the topic how to change the systems from within.  What are your options, risk, roadblocks, and opportunities? Some of them take a very instrumental approach with all the right lingo, tools, rewards, systems whereas others take a more developmental approach. You can only change how systems work if the people in it develop themselves in a different direction.  Then The Dutch Central Bank and The Authority Financial Markets published the report “Capacity for change in the financial sector”  a few weeks ago.  The outcome in n short: the financial institutions tick all the boxes but the behaviour doesn’t show a sustainable change.  What can you do about it?

In the discussions   with many of you around ‘changing the system’ the whole matter  was brought back to one or two simple - not simplistic – things:  recruit and promote for values. Which ones? I believe strongly in Plato’s Cardinal Virtues.  Prudence (wisdom), Justice (fairness), Temperance (restraint, self-control) and Courage.  Recruiting and promoting  for these values and when you do make life easy for your employees to live them. That is what leadership is all about. And yes you will have to fight quite a few fights to stand up for these values. But at the end of the day your company will flourish and the world will be a better place.   The report of DNB and AFM speak a lot about behaviour that hasn’t changed too much although the financial institutions have made big steps.  The sheer fact that the financial institutions are open about the journey they have started is already one big thing. It will take a while before the whole system has changed. They will get there.  A final recommendation from Mattieu Ricard for the leaders in charge:  “What counts is not the enormity of the task, but the amount of courage”.

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