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Bill George
Scholar/Former CEO

Bill George

Bill George is a management professor at the Harvard Business School, the former Chairman and CEO of Medtronic, Inc., and the author of several best-selling books on leadership. His latest release is 7 Lessons for
Leading in Crisis

An Offensive Question

I find the question itself to be offensive, as though authentic leadership is a question of gender. There are great women leaders, like Andrea Jung (Avon), Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo), Meg Whitman (eBay), and Anne Mulcahy (Xerox), who are highly authentic and who follow their "True North." But there are also failed female leaders, like Zoe Cruz of Morgan Stanley and Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard, who fail to motivate people to follow them and who lose sight of their True North.

The same is true of male leaders on Wall Street: Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan Chase), Lloyd Blankfein (Goldman Sachs), Dick Kovacevich (Wells Fargo), and John Mack (Morgan Stanley) have all led their firms with distinction through this crisis. On the other hand, many other male leaders in Citigroup (prior to Vikram Pandit's arrival), Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, Bear Stearns, and Wachovia have failed to provide sound leadership.

It is time to overcome gender stereotypes that male leaders are aggressive and risk-oriented, and that female leaders are less assertive and less willing to take risks. These stereotypes keep women from having the opportunities to demonstrate their full leadership capabilities, and keep men from being able to lead from the heart as well as the head.

By Bill George

 |  March 9, 2009; 4:37 AM ET
Category:  Women in Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: If Women Ran the Banks | Next: More Holistic Thinking?

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