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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 12, 2013
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Within a week of finishing it, I stood up to a male coworker who was minimizing and deflating everything I said in a meeting in front of my manager and colleagues. Pre book I probably would have just let it go and been deferential even though I knew I was right. I didn't back down on my position, but I remained calm and logical, and was still friendly. He on the other hand became angry and raised his voice. I asked him why he was becoming so emotional about he topic, and that question disarmed him completely. He said "you're right, I'm sorry." Later he came to my office and apologized again. I know he didn't like it, and I don't think his apology was sincere, but I know I at least gleaned some respect from him and my colleagues.
I later noticed in another meeting in which a female coworker and I were presenting, several male audience members kept interrupting us despite the fact that we were supposed to be teaching them the material. I finally stepped in and said "gentlemen, thanks for your insights but we're going to hold questions and comments until the end." They shut up.
I have finally recently been selected to attend a conference across the country with a select few other employees. I attribute this selection to my newfound confidence in my abilities and contributions to the organization, and I attribute that confidence to this book!
I think every working woman should read this (especially working mothers), and possibly more importantly, every manager, male or female, should read this book.
1) “Writing this book is what I would do if I weren’t afraid.”
—> what are YOU afraid of? Maybe you should also embrace it rather than running away from it. That’s how we accomplish some of our most satisfactory growth.
2) “I wish I were strong enough to ignore what others say, but experience tells me I often can’t. Allowing myself to feel upset, even really upset, and then move on - that’s something I can do.”
—> this (and the chapter it was in) resonated deeply. I was once essentially not given a promotion because I had cried behind closed doors in an executive office, at a time when I was failing to get by on four hours of sleep per night. That executive then didn’t believe I was emotionally ready to be promoted. Reading this book, I felt vindicated knowing that other successful people bring emotion to work, and it hasn’t held them back.
3) “success is making the best choices we can... and accepting them”
—> Fact: we can’t have it all, and the sooner we get comfortable with compromises and imperfections, the more comfortable we’ll be.
4) “We must raise both the ceiling and the floor.”
—> I love the ideas in this book around helping ALL women find the balance and equality that they are looking for. Yes, we need more female leaders, but we need more examples at every level and in multiple professions.
Although the book is written from the perspective of a white female, throw any "ism" in and you would probably be able to identify. Worth reading because it gives women plenty of insight into how we sometimes perceive ourselves and our roles on the job.
I could certainly identify with some of the behaviors she points out!
Top international reviews
There were many unnecessary details and stories which were more than half the book.
Key tips: 'sit at the table' (ie put yourself forward and don't hold yourself back - 'what would you do if you were not afraid?"); be aware of gender stereotyping and explain why you are going to negotiate before you do negotiate - but don't fail to negotiate (men negotiate naturally and it is expected of them); 'make your partner a real partner' (and, for example, don't go in for gatekeeper behaviour at home and ask him to step aside and let you do it when he's making a mess of things - let him do it himself and learn); generally in finding a job look at the growth potential of the company (as the author did with Google) and think what you can offer an employer that the employer actually wants/needs; and on living your life understand that time is a scarce resource and you can't have or do it all - the whole essence of the thing is trade-offs and decisions.
So, there's a lot of interest here; and the book gives every appearance of being well researched as well as full of personal material. The author tells us in the afterward that she has a co-writer; and that even so writing the book has taken out of the time she spends with her husband. This also has the ring of truth - but it does to some extent underscore the idea that the author is something of an exceptional human being.
I would recommend cross-checking her thinking against the recent book The XX Factor by Alison Wolf. That carefully explains that there are three life styles for women today - one fot the top 1%, another for the remainder of the top 20%, and a third for the other 80%. Sandberg is definitely part of the top 1% in that grouping. So perhaps her thinking is not entirely for everyone....
Recommended to: All women who care about their work, professional life and career satisfaction and all men who care to play their role to make it a better world. Together we can make the difference.
It does highlight inequality in many areas which still exist between men and women in the work place today as well as at home and wishes for women to accept each others choices and for men to step up on the home front but also be free to choose a more unconventional path.
Sheryl highlights the fact that we still have too few women on the top levels in management and in politics and believes addressing this gender gap will lead to a more balanced society with more choices.
She hopes more women will "lean in" and give it all before deciding to step back rather than to "pre decide on how to manage motherhood" as they wont have as much to go for by the time they have kids and could be coming back to an interesting/challenging job.
What did I discover? That she experienced during her career and life as a woman what I experienced in my first 9 years of professional life and in my female position.. Some parts of the books left me with tears as she expressed exactly the feelings or the emotions I went through.
I think if more women were getting up to fight for their rights and think they are equal of men (this is by the way because of this I lost my job as a general manager in a small company) then I think the world would be a better place.
I would like to thank sincerely Sheryl for writing that book and not being ashamed of what she is and what she achieved so far.
We can all do it - only if we want it - of course.
But wow, did it get me now! Well written, insightful, full of stories and advice.
Best book I've read in ages!
So inspiring - I've talked to many people about it, recommended to many female friends and colleagues - and to male too!
It really makes you take stock and not only want to lean in, but feel like you have to!