Before she was selected as the new Managing Director, Ms. Christine Lagarde, a candidate for the position of the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement to the IMF Executive Board on June 23, 2011. You can read her entire letter here. Here are some key highlights.
As a candidate, I have listened carefully over the last few weeks to the messages conveyed to me by a large part of the membership and I would like to lay out some thoughts of mine and address some of the issues:
1. Management: the three duties of MD
If elected, I am committed to fulfil, with your support and active engagement, the three key duties of a MD: to chair the Board; to manage the staff; and to represent the institution.
Duty 1: Chairing the Board
To lay the proper foundations of such a relationship, if elected, I would call for a Board retreat before the recess.
Duty 2: Managing the staff
I am well aware that recent events have left open wounds. I know that John’s departure, coming as it does at the very worst of times, will leave a big hole. The incoming MD must take pains to show the outside world that this great institution is not only leading in terms of expertise, but also in terms of integrity and work ethics. We must consolidate and, if needed, restore staff pride in working at the IMF, to get us through the healing process.
…only strong leadership will help us overcome silo-mentality, achieve diversity, and gain in cohesion and coherence.
We collectively must focus on serving both our membership and the higher goal of the Fund, and be less inward-looking.
Duty 3: Representing the institution and bringing a vision
The MD has to lead by example, consistent with the values of integrity, independence, and discretion. The MD shall also be the loyal and strong voice of the whole membership when representing the Fund, especially in delivering messages, speaking the truth to members, be them small or large.
To conclude, should you entrust me with the challenging task of MD, I would strive, over the next five years, to build a Fund that would be adapted to a changing world; responsive, ready and able to meet all challenges, both foreseeable and unforeseeable; cooperative, listening and coordinating effectively with all stakeholders, and continuously striving to build consensus; legitimate and even-handed, to reflect a changing world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the Executive Board, thank you for your attention
Note the clear intentions:
To “lead in terms of expertise, and work ethics;” to lead with integrity; to gain in cohesion and coherence.”
I suspect that this is one of the more challenging new positions on the planet, especially after the very public scandal of the man she replaces. But she provides a pretty good reminder to all leaders with this letter: leaders are to manage the staff, represent the organization well and honorably, and bring a vision to the entire enterprise.
For the sake of many, let’s hope that Ms. Lagarde can live up to and fulfill these intentions, and set an example for other leaders in the process.
Slate States It Bluntly… “She’s A She”
Slate headlines it this way:
A Perfect New Leader or the IMF
Christine Lagarde is experienced.
She drives a hard bargain.
She’s a she.
(article written by Annie Lowrey).
“If I’m elected, I’ll bring all my expertise as a lawyer, a minister, a manager, and a woman to the job.”
The chorus of support is growing for Christine Lagarde to lead the IMF. I think it is safe to say that a woman might be a wise choice after the apparently criminal, and despicable, inexcusable, utterly depraved behavior of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. (Yes, I know that he is innocent until proven guilty. But I’ve read the accounts…)
I wrote of Christine Lagarde’s insight on the difference between men and women on this blog back last October: Women Approach Business Differently than Men – Insight from Christine Lagarde. Her words sound practically prescient… It would be worth it to read my full blog post, but here is that key phrase:
“You were a former CEO. Do you think women have a different way of approaching business or approaching the public sphere?” Amanpour asked.
“Yes,” said Lagarde, who is the only female finance minister in the Group of Seven industrialized countries. “I think we inject less libido, less testosterone …”
Now, the chorus grows in support of Lagarde to head the IMF — French Government Says China Would Back Lagarde As IMF Chief:
China would support Finance Minister Christine Lagarde as the next IMF chief, the French government said on Tuesday, backing which would put her firmly in pole position to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
I have read, and written, quite a bit about the kinds of changes for the better that women in leadership positions can bring to organizations. I think this will be interesting to watch – and potentionally bring some of that change for the better.