Listen, Learn, Empower… Lead!

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  • Last week I participated in a conversation on leadership at the 64th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

    I wanted to share three takeaways from our event.

    1. Hear Every Voice

    We often assume that all voices in the room are being heard because our teams are so talented, outspoken, and accomplished. But we may miss a key voice, hiding in the back, who could offer a key insight or an important dissent, if only we had asked, or enabled them to speak up. Good leaders should look out for the missing voice, making sure that everyone feels part of the team. Not only will this empower your team, it can also help you become a more successful leader. You can learn an awful lot from other people if you are willing to listen.

    2. Learn from Failure

    When I was not admitted to the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, the French civil service academy, I was disappointed. But then I decided to accept it, reflect on why it did not work out and move on. That setback helped me focus on my strengths and the issues I cared most about. It led to a career journey full of changes and new challenges I could not have imagined. From my legal career, to serving in the French government, to now leading the IMF. You will be a stronger leader because of the setbacks in your life. It will allow you to appreciate the journey of your career and empathize with colleagues when they struggle.

    3. Empower Women

    The glass ceiling still exists and it is everyone’s mission to make sure it goes away. The economic case is clear. IMF research has shown that adding one more woman in senior management or on the corporate board, while keeping the size of the board unchanged, is associated with 8-13 basis points higher return on assets. Despite this, women, who make up 44% of the labor force of the S&P 500, only hold 25% of senior manager positions. So, it’s time to let women shine, remove barriers, and in the process, build better businesses and a better world.

    These are leadership principles that can be universally applied, no matter your field or profession. In fact, that’s what I told CNBC’s Carolin Roth when we spoke about leadership right after my event. 

    Originally published on Linkedin Pulse.

  • Christine Lagarde
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