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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

THE QUESTION

Testosterone and the Crash

Would the current financial crisis have happened, or been anywhere near as severe, if women had been in the top leadership positions on Wall Street?

Posted by Ben Bradlee and Steve Pearlstein on March 8, 2009 9:26 PM
FROM THE PANEL
Warren Bennis

Student View: Even Twins Are Different

While some females may appreciate being considered a preventive measure to a financial crisis, I find it sexist and unrealistic, writes Caroline Goodson, an undergraduate student of Warren Bennis.

Posted by Warren Bennis, on March 11, 2009 9:45 AM
Barbara Kellerman

Only Two Percent of Fortune 500 CEOs Are Female

Would a world ruled by women look any different? We'll never know until there are more women in positions of power. And if we look in the board room and the executive suite right now, women are very few.

Posted by Barbara Kellerman, on March 11, 2009 9:38 AM
Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

Pressured to Conform

In a male-dominated profession like the military, women in leadership roles often masked their true selves to be what the culture expected them to be. The male-dominated environment on wall Street likely created the same pressures to conform.

Posted by Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.), on March 10, 2009 11:19 AM
Paul R. Portney

Title IX CEOs

If men are more competitive in business, this may be because they've been playing sports for longer. Will there be a new generation of women leaders as competitive in the boardroom as they were on the soccer field, softball diamond or basketball court?

Posted by Paul R. Portney, on March 10, 2009 11:12 AM
Patricia McGinnis

Generation Not Gender

In a world of flattened communications, a more collaborative leadership style is more effective -- as evidenced in President Obama's style -- but this change has more to do with age differences than gender ones.

Posted by Patricia McGinnis, on March 10, 2009 11:01 AM
Norm R. Augustine

Planting Ivy in the Urinals

To answer this question is to chose between being branded a male chauvinist pig by half the world's population and a weak-kneed wobbly wimp by the other half. Copernicus may have had the best answer to such tricky questions.

Posted by Norm R. Augustine, on March 10, 2009 10:47 AM
Kathy Kretman

No Time for Stereotypes

Perpetuating the overblown debate about female vs. male leadership styles doesn't bring back jobs, strengthen failing organizations or improve the economy.

Posted by Kathy Kretman, on March 10, 2009 10:40 AM
Alan M. Webber

Our Own Boogie Man

Rather than believe a handful of bad guys "did us in," we should spend more time examining our own attitudes toward wealth, work, and the old-fashioned virtues of earning what you buy rather than just putting it all on a plastic charge card.

Posted by Alan M. Webber, on March 10, 2009 10:30 AM
Roger Martin

One Night Stands

More women leaders on Wall Street would have created an industry more focused on long-term mutually beneficial relationships and concern for and understanding of the entity on the other side of the transaction.

Posted by Roger Martin, on March 10, 2009 10:23 AM

More Holistic Thinking?

It's not unreasonable to make the case that women managers might have handled the Wall Street meltdown in a different, more effective way, but the focus should be on having the best minds, and that means women AND men.

Posted by Yash Gupta, on March 9, 2009 12:04 PM
Bill George

An Offensive Question

The stereotypes that male leaders are aggressive and risk-oriented while female leaders are less assertive and more risk averse keep women from demonstrating their full leadership capabilities, and keep men from being able to lead from the heart as well as the head.

Posted by Bill George, on March 9, 2009 4:37 AM

If Women Ran the Banks

The banks and trading companies are dominated by men. The few women who reach high levels have had to fit into a male culture. Would it have been different if women had created and run the culture? We can only fantasize.

Posted by Michael Maccoby, on March 9, 2009 4:33 AM

Imagining "Ellen" Greenspan

There is little doubt that with more women in top positions in Wall Street and government, the economic crisis would have been less severe.

Posted by Marty Linsky, on March 9, 2009 4:22 AM
Andy Stern

A Culture Not Easily Bucked

For women to crack glass ceilings of male leadership, an accomplishment in and of itself, and then be expected to also change an institutional culture and business model in the short run is a big task.

Posted by Andy Stern, on March 9, 2009 4:12 AM

Gender No Silver Bullet

Wall Street became a system run amok because of group think, greed, sloppy and lax regulation, and close to zero transparency. Unfortunately, DNA or brain circuitry or sex hormones can't solve these serious design flaws.

Posted by Warren Bennis, on March 9, 2009 4:01 AM
Howard Gardner

Barbarians at the University Gate

Wall Street recruiters look for students clever enough to earn profits at almost any price. Whether this aggressive profile relates to gender, testosterone, ambition, identification with the barbarians at the gates, or lack of ethical fiber, I will leave for others to decide.

Posted by Howard Gardner, on March 9, 2009 3:34 AM

Women in Fantasy Land

The testosterone-driven fantasy-land of Wall Street thrived on its hyper-competitive, win-at-any-cost culture. The chances of women ruling that particular roost were slim to none, and we are living with the results.

Posted by Elizabeth Sherman, on March 9, 2009 3:22 AM

Gender Is Not Destiny

While it is clear that society should promote greater diversity in leadership positions in all walks of life, we should not expect that a person's gender will be a predictive factor in his or her approach to problem solving.

Posted by Kurt Schmoke, on March 9, 2009 2:57 AM
David Walker

Breaking the Mold

While some research shows women tend to be somewhat more risk averse than men, top women executives may not fit that pattern.

Posted by David Walker, on March 8, 2009 11:07 PM

Are Women Really Risk Averse?

By the standard means of testing, women do seem to be more risk averse when making risk/reward trade-offs. But when risk is understood more broadly, women seem as likely as men to take risks like launching new products or starting new projects.

Posted by Deborah Kolb, on March 8, 2009 10:18 PM

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FEATURED COMMENTS

nodebris: Women can be every bit as greedy and short-sighted as men. The important question is, what attributes does the system select for, and can th...

valeriedc: Even the title reinforces stereotypes such as those mentioned in these comments and by the responders. This is a disservice to an important...

marina9999: I don't think it would have made any difference. Women may not be "macho aggressive", but they are "nurturing and consensus building" and...

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