Book Review: “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg

Sit at table
I expected to read about all the wonderfully success stories from a self-promoting successful woman. Surprisingly, Sheryl Sandberg came across as sincere, modest, occasionally self-deprecatingly humorous, and most courageous. She encourages the women to lean in (actively participating) more at work and the men to lean in at home more. Some of the tips apply to men as well. I enjoyed and recommended this book. Hope the recently announced movie will be as interesting and helpful as the book. I think she’s doing a lot of good for women. Hopefully, my daughter’s generation of women will benefit from her advocacy.

At the time of this writing, I was just listening to President Obama’s State of Union 2014 address. He talked about equal time and equal pay for women. Looks like the Sheryl Sandberg’s effort is getting traction.

You can check out the summary below or watched her two TED videos (Video 1 and Video 2) on Youtube:

1. The Leadership Ambition: Sheryl did a quick memoir on her upbringing, her career and her personal life. Also she talked about how she started speaking out about “Lean In.” (Commencement Speach at Bernard Colledge in 2011).

2. Sit at the Table: Women tend to lack confidence – “fake it until you feel it” and “Keep your hands up” is recommended. Believe in your own abilities.

3. Success and Likeability: Women are less likeable when being aggressive but not so for men. “If a woman is competient, she does not seem nice enough. If a woman seems really nice, she is considered more nice than competent. When it comes to negotiations concerning compensation, benefits, title, women tend to lose out and not negotiate hard enough. Even if a women negotiate successfully, she would lose out in the long term in goodwill. Recommended to “think personally, act communally” by prefacing with “women get paid less than men so need to negotiate harder. Also combine niceness with insistence. “When you want to change things, you can’t please everyone.”

4. It’s a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder. Many ways are there to get to the “top of the jungle gym” but one way to get to the top of the ladder. Her story of landing a job at Google and Eric Schmidt’s comment “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, yo don’t ask what seat. You just get on.” are interesting. She believes in 18-month plan for the team and herself. “Taking risks, choosing growth, challenging ourselves, and asking for promotions are all important elements of managing a career.” Alice Walker’s quote, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

5. Are You My Mentor? The men wanted answers, the women wanted permission and help. Mentors elect proteges based on performance and potential. Mentors continue to invest when mentees use their time well and truly open to feedback. “Excel and you’ll get a mentor.”

6. Seek and Speak Your Truth: Communication works best when we combine appropriateness with authenticity, find that sweet spot where opinions are not brutally honest but delicately honest. “Effective communications tarts when the understanding that there is my point of view (my truth) and someone else’s point of view (his truth). Make a habit of soliciting for input to avoid the “Rubin likes gold” moment. Ask what I can do for you before asking for what they can do for you.

7. Don’t Leave Before You Leave: She encourages the women to not leave the work for maternity leave until they’re ready to leave and don’t turn down an offer/opportunity because of the perceived conflict with child bearing. “Keep a foot on the gas pedal until a decision must be made. That’s the only way to ensure that when the day comes, there will be a real decision to make.”

8. Make Your Partner a Real Partner: The single most important career decision that a woman makes is whether she will have a life partner and who that partner is. Date all of them but settle with someone who will be an equal partner. “We need more men to sit at the table … the kitchen table.”

9. The Myth of Doing It All: She dispels the myth that we can be doing it all. She admitted that she still struggles with the trade-offs between work and home on a daily basis. “Guilt management can be just as important as time management for mothers.”

10. Let’s Start Talking About It: She advocates that we continue to speak up for feminism – “Someone who believes in social, political, and economic equality of of the sexes.” We can no longer pretend that biases do not exist.

11. Working Together Toward Equality: “It’s time to cheer on girls and women who want to sit at the table, seek challenges, and lean in to their careers. Women should support women instead of acting as “Queen Bee.” Her hope for the day when both of her boy and girl children will end up exactly where they want to be. And when hey find where their true passions lie, they both lean in – all the way.