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April 23, 2007

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Office Life
“Boss Science” [“Office Life,” by Steve Fishman, April 9] exposed the reductionism of some who study leadership. The problem is that while many people are open, conscientious, and extroverted, very few are leaders. Robert Kaiser cites four academic studies on charisma, but none is able to determine its effect on performance. Charisma must occur in conjunction with many factors for it to be effective. It is fortunate for the American workforce that Seymour Adler will never locate the supposed genetic traits that determine one’s place on the organizational hierarchy. Stephen Jay Gould warned against those who use science to explain social behavior when no such evolutionary links have been established.
Veronica Manlow, Manhattan

As an employment lawyer, I take issue with your advice to women in “Getting into the club” and “Working with mooks” [“Office Life: Codes of Conduct,” by Ben Mathis-Lilley, April 9]. You advise women demeaned by their bosses’ “crass comments” to stay silent, and women denied “mentorly treatment” because of their sex to take up golf. This implies that women must tolerate discrimination or change to be more like men. It is the employer’s obligation to develop ways to evaluate, promote, and compensate all employees based on objective criteria, not their golf handicap. Women must not remain silent—under Supreme Court precedent, a woman who does not complain of sexual harassment may be barred from ever recovering damages from her employer even if she can prove harassment.
Rachel Bien, Brooklyn

Out in Left Field
Amusing piece on Keith Olbermann [“Limbaugh for Lefties,” by Stephen Rodrick, April 9]. Though I’m a pretty liberal guy, I can never cut through the torrent of overwritten lines or get past the clenched chin to know what he’s talking about, and when I heard him boast one day about trying to keep his objectivity by not voting, I thought, Go back to sports, Keith.
Dave Butwin, Leonia, N.J.

A Girl in Need
I am sickened and saddened by Jessica Lustig’s account of Lucilia [“Working Girl or Sex Slave?,” April 9]. I want to hold this girl in my arms and tell her that she did nothing wrong and deserves only justice for the abuses she has suffered. Why on earth would we put this girl into a prison cell instead of into a warm bed with protective custody?
Rebecca A. Distefano, Bergenfield, N.J.

Young and Mortal
The Young Invincibles” [by David Amsden, April 2] did not adequately highlight the burden caused by chronic disease for a young person without insurance. Cancer is the leading disease killer of adults between the ages of 20 and 39. Young adults with cancer are not experiencing the increases in survival rates that children and older adults are. While the reasons for this are many and complex, being uninsured usually means delayed diagnosis, limited treatment options, and inconsistent follow-up care. When it comes to cancer, young does not mean invincible.
Doug Ulman, president, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Austin, Tex.

The Oldie Was a Goodie
Mark Stevens’s review “Instant Classic” [“Culture: Art,” April 16] certainly whetted my appetite for the Met’s new Greek and Roman galleries in the space I remember as a child. However, I fault his description of the former “undistinguished restaurant” in the atrium. The restaurant was a welcome spot for dining in the museum; we enjoyed several lovely meals there, and it kept us in the building.
Joan McCann, Somerset, N.J.

Corrections: In “Room to Work” (“Office Life,” by David Colman, April 9), authorship of A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder should have been attributed to Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman, not Lewis Kornhauser. Also, in “Boss Science,” a reference to The Versatile Leader should have stated that the book was co-authored by Robert Kaiser and Robert Kaplan, not Kaiser and Robert Hogan. Kaiser and Hogan co-authored the paper “Leadership and the Fate of Organizations.”


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