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.
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The French solicitor successfully grew this demanding brood of counselors and its business, stepping down unscathed in 2005. I observed up close her trademark qualities: uncompromising independence, paired with a healthy dose of confidence, but without a hint of hubris.Skip to next paragraph
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This was demonstrated again at the recent press briefing when questioned about her lack of “economist” credentials. She conceded that the economic community would not bestow her with an honorary degree, but cautioned observers not to be fooled by one’s expertise, or seeming lack of it “My approach has always been to pretend that I understand nothing and to force people who are in the know to explain their position.”
Voted in 2009 as Europe’s top finance minister by the Financial Times, Lagarde brings a no-nonsense authenticity to problem solving. Advocating tax cuts for her countrymen to the French Parliament, she took a “Bronx-like” swipe at the French elite, admonishing them to stop pontificating and turn theory into reality: “I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves.” Lagarde went on to cite French writer Alexis de Tocqueville’s "Democracy in America," exhorting the French to work harder, earn more, and pay lower taxes on their wealth.
Studies support Lagarde's gender theory
Lagarde’s gender braggadocio is supported by empirical data. Leadership studies consistently show women outperform men in the key area of decision-making: They tend to use a more democratic, participative style, while men take a more autocratic, directive approach. These studies conclude that women’s traditional approach to negotiation, mediation, facilitation, and communication is more effective than men’s traditional insistence on power and control.
So if women make better bosses, why do few make it to the top? A Pew Report cites a host of reasons including gender discrimination, resistance to change, a self-serving “old boys club,” and family responsibilities; but also confirms that women inherently have what it takes to be good leaders.
As the IMF executive board evaluates the credentials, professional and geographic, of the managing director candidates, it would do well to also consider Lagarde’s “id” theory of leadership. Mr. Strauss-Kahn, Silvio Berlusconi, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Mark Sanford, John Ensign, and now, Anthony Weiner (to tick off the more prominent libido-driven male leaders) seem to provide fertile evidence that she is on to something.
John Klotsche is a retired partner and former chairman of the executive committee of Baker & McKenzie (1995-1999), the Chicago-based international law firm. He writes fiction and non-fiction short stories.