GUEST POST: Janet Yellen: A.R.M.E.S. and the Leadership Ladder

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GUEST POST: Janet Yellen: A.R.M.E.S. and the Leadership Ladder


Guest Post Author is Scott Kellner, Graduate Student at GORE Business School, Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah


This is a critical moment in the history of central banks and the practice of monetary policy. Led by the Chair, the Federal Reserve and its Board of Governors is charged with a dual mandate of promoting full employment while also minimizing inflation. Since the sub-prime mortgage crises the Federal Reserve has pursued unprecedented policy to get the economy back on track. Now, economists and politicians question the Fed’s current position. At what rate will the Fed taper and how do they plan to unwind the 6 trillion dollar balance sheet? Can the newly confirmed Chair Janet Yellen lead effectively and navigate the Fed out of its current predicament? Through Janet’s guidance it’s my opinion the Fed and the country will emerge triumphant and with strength.

In the article, The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve by Jim Collins, Jim highlights the impact of a level five leader and how humility plus will are two characteristics that can define level five leadership. In this article by the Washington Post,

Janet is described as being “consensus-driven, mild mannered, methodical and possibly timid.” This is in context of comparison against Yellen’s competition for the Chair seat, Larry Summers. Summers and Yellen were paired as nearly polar opposites. Larry is outspoken, brash and authoritative. Yellen is the type to attribute success to others and take responsibility in failure. Summers is one who attributes success to his own genius and blame others in his own failures.

Janet is a labor economist; she is passionate about an economy where anyone who looks for work finds employment in a relatively short amount of time. That was Janet’s definition of an efficient labor market she outlined in her latest senate hearing. Janet doesn’t care about the unemployment rate, she cares about the families and lives she impacts with the policy she implements. Her will to get people back to work is real and unwavering. And what those people earn while they work is just as important. When asked about joblessness and slower growth, “they aren’t just statistics to me.”

In her time on The Council of Economic Advisers Janet worked on groundbreaking work “Explaining Trends in the Gender Wage Gap.” Janet feels so strongly about equality she took sexism out of leadership. Janet instructed her staff she was to be referred to as “chair” not chairman or chairwoman.

It’s a prerequisite if you’re a level five leader to also be a level four, three, two and one. This is what I mean by the leadership ladder. No one is born a level five leader you have to develop your leadership skills along every rung. Janet has performed at every level. Level one, highly capable individual, Janet got her undergrad in economics and her Ph.D. in economics both at Yale University. Level two, contributing team member, Janet served on the Council of Economic Advisers under the Clinton administration. Level three, competent manager, Janet was president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from 2004 until 2010. Level four, effective leader, in April 2010 Janet was nominated for vice-chair of the Federal Reserve. Level five, executive, chair of the Federal Reserve Janet embodies the humility and professional will that characterize a level five leader.

Emotional Intelligence is another attribute frequently demonstrated by great leaders. The Goleman article outlined the five skills that make up emotional intelligence and they can be remembered as A.R.M.E.S. Awareness (self), Regulation (self), Motivation, Empathy, and Social skills. I’ll briefly go over a few that Janet seems to demonstrate.

Janet has demonstrated self-awareness by assessing her strengths and understanding how her peers perceive her. Exhibiting influence through quite expertise instead of the outspoken I’m the smartest person in the room strategy. Another hallmark of self-awareness is a self-deprecating sense of humor. Janet’s high school had a tradition where the editor of the school paper would interview the valedictorian, Janet was both, she managed to be quick witted and self-deprecating.

The most obvious one for Janet is her motivation. Janet is passionate about creating an economy where “real” people can live better lives. Janet demonstrates a strong will to achieve success, her own self-confidence translates into a sense of optimism that can be felt through her speech, optimism is a hallmark of strong motivation.

Janet was the right choice to succeed Ben Bernanke as the Chair of the Federal Reserve. Because of Janet’s leadership style and abilities I’m confident the Fed and the Country will emerge from this economic recovery and into a new period of growth and enlightenment.

Guest Post Author is Scott Kellner, Graduate Student at GORE Business School, Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah

Photo Courtesy of The Economic Club – New York


About the Author:

Professor and award winning author, world traveler, Mom, thought leader, mentor, friend, and advocate Vicki Whiting, Ph.D. is dedicated to the facilitation of learning and the development of leaders in all walks of life.

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