António Horta-Osório leaves the Group this week after 10 years as Chief Executive. This is his farewell note to colleagues.
I wanted to write a short message to all of you as I finish my last week at Lloyds Banking Group.
It’s never easy to sum up ten years of experiences – let alone in one letter – so if you’ll permit me, I would like simply to say a heartfelt thank you, and to offer some reflections on what I have learned along the way.
The scale of change
When I joined this business ten years ago, we were in the middle of a major crisis where the viability and the very existence of the Bank were at stake. Also, while this organisation is used to change, I think it is fair to say that the scale of external change has been enormous…
- A faster digital revolution than anyone forecast, bringing all aspects of life to our fingertips.
- A political earthquake triggering the most significant shift in UK policy for decades.
- A mounting environmental crisis, causing us to rethink our purchases, investments and lifestyles.
- A cultural movement demanding a change in our mindsets, workplaces and practices.
- A global health pandemic that will change the world forever.
What have these experiences taught me? First, the importance of knowing your objective.
Knowing your objective and your limits
Life is never straightforward and sometimes the goalposts have to shift – as you adjust and adapt to a changing external environment, for example – but knowing your end goal will allow you to keep moving in the right direction, even when the conditions change around you. For us, that’s been our purpose of Helping Britain Prosper – and in the current context, Helping Britain Recover from the pandemic. It’s a goal that keeps us anchored whatever the circumstances.
So know your objectives, pursue them as a united team with laser-like focus… and always be ready for the unexpected. That is how we rebuilt this Group together over the past ten years, making it very different from how it was at the start.
"An organisation is the sum of its parts, and the things we have achieved in the past decade have been the product of tens of thousands of dedicated people playing their part."
But it is also important to know your limits.
I learned the hard way that none of us is invincible. It has given me an enhanced appreciation of the value of team: all of us are stronger when we have an honest assessment of our own strengths and weaknesses, and we produce our best work when we can count on the unique abilities and diverse contributions of those around us.
I have been fortunate to have a superb leadership team in my time here, as well as friends, family and advocates along the way who have coached me and cautioned me in equal measure. We should all seek out those figures who can help us be our best.
That brings me to perhaps the most important source of support and inspiration: those of you who have been on this journey with me.
Looking to the future
Nelson Mandela once said: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived; it is what difference we have made to the lives of others.”
The memories that will stay with me are not primarily of the many great accomplishments we have achieved together (which we did!), but of visits to branches, recognition dinners, client breakfasts, Group conventions and corridor conversations across the country.
I am incredibly grateful to you for those memories. Lloyds Banking Group has, and will continue to have, a very special place in my heart because of them.
I would also like to thank you for the culture you have helped build at the Group over the past ten years. An organisation is the sum of its parts, and the things we have achieved in the past decade have been the product of tens of thousands of dedicated people playing their part.
I am particularly proud of the leading contribution we have provided in removing the stigma in society about mental health and the internal support given to our colleagues in this area.
Leading this organisation, with its rich history and clear purpose, has been a tremendous honour. What follows will be up to you and our new leaders – but I hope you are as excited for the possibilities as I am.
Thank you for everything and I wish you every success with what’s next; I will be watching and cheering you on.