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Janet Yellen ‘has the leadership skills for US Fed top job’

17 Oct 2013, by Informa Insights

English: Janet Yellen being sworn in by Fed Ch...
English: Janet Yellen being sworn in by Fed Chair Ben Bernanke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All eyes are on Janet Yellen as she could potentially become the first woman to chair the US Federal Reserve.

Despite some commentators describing the economist as timid, Washington Post columnist Jena McGregor has sprung to her defence, highlighting her leadership skills in particular.

Yellen faced competition early in the running from fellow economist Larry Summers, with Ms McGregor claiming the two-horse race became a “gendered” caricature.

“On the one side, there was Summers: authoritarian, outspoken, self-assured and brash. On the other, there was Yellen: consensus-driven, mild-mannered, methodical and, to some, possibly timid,” she explained.

“While such a comparison may be simplistic, it played neatly into the storyline of what was at stake.”

According to Ms McGregor, what the Fed needs at this moment in time is a leadership style that focuses on calm, but clear communications skills and a more low-key style.

Leadership for Women training courseShe noted that while there often occasions where a more authoritative approach is required, with an obvious hierarchy, there are also many instances where collaboration and openness to discussion are preferred.

However, the columnist claimed ruling with an iron fist is becoming less appropriate in modern workplaces.

“In today’s world, the my-way-or-the-highway, smartest-guy-in-the-room approach to leadership may still have its place, but in decidedly fewer contexts,” she said.

For the top Fed role in particular, Ms McGregor continued, there is a prevailing view that collaborative leadership is better, with the chair listening to all ideas and then making a more informed decision based on this input.

Yellen still needs to be confirmed by the Senate, although some industry commentators consider this something of a formality.

She has already been second in command under previous chairman Ben Bernanke for three years, as well as being an adviser in former president Bill Clinton’s administration for two years.

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