Monday, July 2, 2012

What can we bank on?

I thought the idiom “you can bank on it” (having confidence in, relying on, guaranteeing something) was derived from the reputation of trusted banking establishments. It turns out it probably has more to do with the etymological root of bench, being literally "something you can count on".
That would be a more sound explanation given events of late. Back in the UK for a few days, I was saddened that I wasn’t surprised when I switched on the news and heard of yet another banking scandal.

As is often said, there are few guarantees in life except death, change and taxes. Recently John Besson for HBR added, bad bosses. Although not the same point as Besson’s, when something like this happens, you can bank on it being a leadership issue. If role-modelling is one of the greatest predictors of performance, you have to question, what are the leaders role modelling?

This is a leadership challenge for the banking industry.

It is also a challenge for us all.

Eckhart Tolle posed “are you polluting the world or cleaning up the mess?”.

He goes on to argue “the more the dysfunction of the human mind plays itself out on the world stage, clearly visible to everyone in the daily television news reports, the greater the number of people who realise the urgent need for a radical change in human consciousness if humanity is not to destroy itself and the planet”.

For the banking industry, leaders need to commit to seriously exploring their organisational unconsciousness, bring attention to what is happening at an individual and collective level, and create space for transformation to happen. Maybe only then will we be able to bank on these institutions making sustainable decisions for all its stakeholders.


Besson, J. (2012) Dealing with a bad boss, HBR Blog Network (posted 28 June 2012, 12.32pm)

Eckart Tolle, (2005) The Power of Now, Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, London (quoted pages: 65 and xii respectively.)

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