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Building the next generation of leaders across Barclays

Strategic need: To enable the transition of high potential talent into leadership roles across the areas of investment banking, wealth and investment management, insurance and human resources. This was a key part of developing a leadership pipeline and succession planning.

Population: Over 200 high-potential young leaders across a two year period in three business units. This took place across two countries and seven cities.

Impact: Significant improvements across all measures of the SHARP framework, resulting in demonstrable behavioral change. Following the program, participants were quickly promoted into senior leadership roles, having exemplified the behaviors needed faster than was originally planned. 

What was needed to develop leaders at Barclays?


As a leading global bank, Barclays prides itself on the quality of its people and its talent pipeline. In October 2014, Kerrin Miller, Head of Potentialife Africa, met with the divisions of Barclays Africa Group to explore how Potentialife could partner with them to develop their next generation of leaders. Identifying high-potential talent in a number of key geographies across Africa, and transitioning them from highly specialist, technical roles into leadership required an approach that combined innovation and scalability. Having engaged with a variety of other approaches to develop leaders in the past, Barclays Africa wanted an approach that would be a "game changer" in developing leaders. 

"This is really about developing the young leaders that we have in our business. Identifying talent and giving them the opportunity to develop leadership capabilities to the benefits of themselves and the firm"

Andrew Whitty
Barclays Africa


What made Potentialife different?

Program Design: 

The resonance between Potentialife’s focus on the science of leadership and the SHARP behavioral levers, with the Barclays’ leadership framework and values, became clear. Over a six month planning and design period, L&D and Talent team, designed the program with Potentialife to place emphasis on changing behavior and leadership capabilities in a range of Barclays' teams. 

"It’s not theoretical, it is about how do I change my leadership behavior"

Eva Gush
Young Talent Lead, Barclays Africa

The architecture for the High-Potential Talent Program was designed with the following principles in mind:

Including both high-tech and high-touch elements. This included both 1:1 and group coaching sessions to accelerate behavior change and enable social learning. It also included 1:1 mentoring with senior leaders across the business.

Insuring that the organizational context and values were integrated into the program.

Building on the organizational concept of ‘leaders building leaders’. This involved face-to-face sessions with senior leaders who told their own leadership story as role-models to the program's younger leaders. 

How has the program impacted Barclays?

"Other programs tried to change what I think. Potentialife has changed what I do"

Eva Gush
Young Talent Lead, Barclays Africa


Participants experienced significant improvements across all areas of SHARP. The strengths-focus was a "game-changer", with participants personally demonstrating more confidence, more energy and greater presence. On a team level, participant's exhibited increased focus on collaboration and building networks, greater ‘voice’ in the organization, and finally, a more intentional approach with a focus on ‘leaning in to challenges’ and finding solutions.  The number of promotions into more senior leadership roles has exceeded expectations and turnover has been significantly lower than the organizational average. 

"Potentialife has become a key component of how we develop our top talent – it is integral to our succession planning. Over 40% of participants have been promoted since doing the program – that’s way higher than we we’d expect"

Eva Gush
Young Talent Lead, Barclays Africa