The Leadership Blind Spots at Wells Fargo

The post-scandal scrutiny of Wells Fargo’s culture has so far focused on the high-pressure sales environment that drove employees to create as many as two million fake accounts. Former employees have alleged a “soul-crushing” culture of fear and daily intimidation by managers, where they were pressured to reach extreme sales goals, some by breaking the law. The bank has since fired 5,300 employees for the illegal behavior and eliminated retail bank sales goals entirely. But the fallout is far from over. Hearings last month before the Senate’s banking committee and the House’s Financial Services Committee point to further dangerous cultural dynamics inside Wells Fargo. The grueling testimonies from CEO John Stumpf, coupled with insights from my industry-wide research into the culture and mindsets of bankers, suggest there is a blind spot among senior leaders at Wells Fargo, as well as deterrents to speaking up among the rank and file. Along with fixing the sales culture, the bank will have to address these critical management issues to prevent the next scandal.

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