September 03, 2014 Practice Points

Christine Lagarde: Effective Leadership at the IMF

By Ashley DeMinck

Christine Lagarde has been at the helm of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the past three years. Since her appointment as the IMF’s managing director, she’s become a stabilizing motivator atop a board of all-male executives, dealt with the fallout from the resignation of the fund’s previous leader, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and weathered turmoil in the euro zone. In a recent Washington Post “On Leadership” column, Lagarde, perhaps unsurprisingly, theorizes that women tend to rise to positions of authority when situations become tough.

Prior to the IMF, Lagarde headed both the law firm Baker & McKenzie and the Finance Ministry of France. Effective leadership, she says, starts with confidence in one’s self. Acceptance of yourself and owning your identity leads to honesty and truthfulness, which leads to the ability to enable and empower people. She also adds that the best leadership advice she ever received was from her father, which she sums up pithily as: “Don’t let the bastards get you.” 

Ultimately, Christine Lagarde aims to keep the IMF relevant and is working to foster a “less rigid” culture at the IMF, where differing opinions and open debates are encouraged. Lagarde also says getting a woman—or women—on the all-male board of IMF executive directors is paramount to a healthy culture within the walls of the IMF. Read the full interview with Lagarde


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, female leadership, all-male boards, Christine Lagarde, IMF

Ashley DeMinck works at Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP in Minneapolis, Minnesota

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