If you have or are a mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, daughter, girlfriend then you should read LEAN IN. If you are a husband, brother, uncle, father, grandfather, boyfriend you should read LEAN IN and then give the book to the woman or women in your life. If you are a woman preparing to go into Corporate America or currently in Corporate America then you need to read LEAN IN – Women, work and the will to lead by Sheryl Sandberg because it was written for you.
The rise to the top of Corporate America is not an individual sport and for women and other underrepresented ethnicities the climb is much more challenging. If you want to get to the top or to a successful rung then you need to assemble your team. You need a coach (coaches), cheerleaders, the “I got your back” teammates, playbook and a success mindset.
Someone once said, “We can have a different set of opinions, but we can’t have a different set of facts.” Inequality still exists in many facets of our society because we want to have different facts. The facts are while “21 percent of the Fortune 500 CEO’s are women, 14 percent hold executive officer positions, 17 percent hold board seats, and 18 percent are elected congressional seats,” and “The numbers for women of color are even more daunting. 4 percent hold top corporate jobs, 3 percent hold board seats and 5 percent hold congressional seats.” America preaches equality but they practice inequality.
LEAN IN discusses perceptions and stereotypes that are reinforced daily, such as when a woman raises her hand to ask or answer a question, if the instructor (facilitator) is male, he will ignore her much more often than her male counterparts. So do men really understand the role they play in slowing, stifling or even denying women opportunities to have a seat at the table? While there are many men who are advocates for equality, there are still many men in positions of entitlement, privilege and power rarely, if ever, want to share, let alone give it up. Ms. Sandberg shares her own personal career climb and the major influencers on “Team Sandberg” tend to be men.
The experiences shared are not new, many of the observations are well documented, and the inequality gap to opportunity still remains the same. In sharing her story she discusses the ever-present challenges and choices of not only having, but balancing career and motherhood. “The exodus of highly educated women is a major contributor to the leadership gap…43 percent leave their careers for a period of time, 56 percent of mothers remained in the workforce compared to 90 percent of men.” You can’t win the game if you’re not in the game! “Only 74% of professional women will rejoin the workforce in any capacity and only 40 percent will return full-time.” Which seems to reinforce the self-fulfilling prophecy of “Women who take time out of the workforce pay a big career penalty,” they are less likely to recoup or surpass the earnings they made before they left.
THOUGHTS for the MEN
- “Actively seek out qualified female candidates to hire and promote.” (p.165).
- “Try not to judge [female] employees by how well they fit in, but by their performance.” (p.143).
- “Gender bias influences how we view performance and typically raises our assessment of men while lowering our assessment of women.” (p.151).
- “Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.” (p.39).
THOUGHTS for the WOMEN
- “You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you…the ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.” (p.35).
- “Women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100 percent of the criteria listed. Men apply [for open jobs] if they think they meet 60 percent of the requirements.” (p.61).
- “Women often judge their own work performance as worse than it actually is; while men judge their own performance as better than it actually is.” (p.29).
THOUGHTS for your SOUL
- “The internalization of failure and the insecurity it breeds hurt future performance, so this pattern has serious long-term consequences.” (p.30).
- “Only one criterion mattered when picking a job – fast growth.” (p.58).
- “Figure out what you want to do before you go to see the people who have the ability to hire you.” (p.69).
As a woman, if you’re serious about your career, you need more than one playbook – you need a library of sorts. LEAN IN by Sheryl Sandberg which has been touted by many executives as a must read should be one of those books on the shelf. Knowledge is power…Take the risk, choose growth, challenge yourself and ask for the promotion!
We have provided a link to the TEDtalk that she gave entitled “Why we have too few women leaders.”