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Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

Todd Henshaw, a professor at Columbia University, is Academic Director of Wharton Executive Education. Previously, he directed the leadership program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Pressured to Conform

It seems obvious that the same culture that produced the male arrogance and entitlement related to the many Wall Street embarrassments would also produce a female equivalent. Women wouldn't be running these firms unless they "took on" the behaviors and attitudes expected of those who would make it through the succession stream. In the words of Rosabeth Kanter, "homosocial reproduction" produced similarities regardless of gender.

The 20th century witnessed many women imitating men to move up the corporate ladder, only to hit the glass ceiling when approaching the top. In the military, I witnessed many women taking on male characteristics because they thought it made them leader-like, or allowed them to fit in. 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.

Only when we have women in sufficient concentrations at the very top of Wall Street firms will the current cultures promoting narcissism and greed change to reflect a greater concern for others. Women will be the great leaders of the next century.

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

 |  March 10, 2009; 11:19 AM ET
Category:  Women in Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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