Why Lagarde should be IMF chief: Women make better leaders, sans Weiner-like libido
Christine Lagarde is the right choice to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the IMF, and not just because of her experience. Women are more effective communicators and aren't libido-led leaders, like Anthony Weiner.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
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In 1999, 575 Baker & McKenzie partners elected Ms. Lagarde as the first woman chair of the global law firm. Eight years later, at 51 she achieved elite political status when President Sarkozy tapped her as France’s Minister of Finance, becoming the first G-7 country female finance chief. Most recently, she set her compass for Washington to become the first female boss at the International Monetary Fund, to fill the vacancy of the disgraced IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Lagarde’s business, legal, financial, and political savvy provide a befitting blend for the IMF post; few seriously challenge her qualifications, only her nationality. The emerging countries, mainly the so-called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are pressing to break the six-decade European stranglehold on the top IMF post because, according to a joint statement issued by their representatives, “nationality undermines the legitimacy of the Fund.”
Lagarde dismissed the nationality issue at a recent press conference announcing her candidacy. “Being European shouldn’t be a plus, but it shouldn’t be a minus either,” she said, citing her experience “as a lawyer, a business leader, a minister, and a woman.”
A woman? It turns out Lagarde champions a Freudian angle to leadership. She says it’s all about psyche.
Women are better leaders than men
During an appearance last fall on ABC's "This Week" and following tough talk on fiscal austerity and the evils of budget deficits, Lagarde dove headlong into the squishy topic of gender leadership. Her cardinal thesis: Women are better leaders than men. “We don’t necessarily project our own egos into cutting a deal, [getting] our point across, convincing people, reducing them to…a partner lost in the process.”
Then with a hint of mettle she cut to the chase: “We inject less libido, less testosterone.”
I give Lagarde’s gender theory high marks when tested against the political and leadership culture in the US – one that has become indisputably partisan and polarized. Our male-dominated political leadership is unable to reverse this trend and is largely seen as the polarizing force.
Ideology has become so rigid that politicians’ stances, even on complex, multidimensional issues, are predictable – often before the debate begins. Testosterone and libido do seem to rule inside Washington’s beltway. Spin and gridlock invariably trump authenticity and reconciliation.
Confidence without hubris
Lagarde succeeded me as Chair of Baker & McKenzie in 1999 before tackling France’s top Finance post. Our male-dominated law partners endlessly reminded the boss that management’s mandate was to tolerantly and benevolently “herd 575 cats.” Lagarde always viewed her partners as professionals and graciously accepted her thankless and near impossible role.