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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 11, 2013
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2013: Anyone who's watched Sheryl Sandberg's popular TED Talk, "Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders," is familiar with--and possibly haunted by--the idea of "having it all." "Perhaps the greatest trap ever set for women was the coining of this phrase," writes Sandberg in Lean In, which expands on her talk's big idea: that increasing the number of women at the top of their fields will benefit everyone. Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, encourages women to challenge the common workplace assumption that "men still run the world." She asks men to be real partners, sharing in the family work that typically leads to a woman's decision to stay home; she asks women who expect to start a family soon not to check out of work mentally. Sandberg's critics note that her advice may not resonate with the masses: The Harvard-educated exec can afford a veritable army to help raise her children. But Sandberg's point--which affects all of us--is that women who have what it takes to succeed at the highest professional level face many obstacles, both internal and external. Lean In is likely to spur the conversations that must happen for institutional changes to take place at work. --Alexandra Foster
*Starred Review* If Facebook COO (and first-time author) Sandberg succeeds, it will be because she’s made us mad—and more than willing to act. With no small amount of self-deprecating humor, a massive quantity of facts and research, plus a liberal dose of very personal anecdotes, Sandberg forces each one of us—woman and man—to reexamine ourselves at work and in life, using a unique filter. Are we more concerned about being liked than succeeding? Do we think of our career as a series of upward ladders rather than a jungle gym? Do our authentic selves—and honesty—show up in business? In short, every single undoing of a woman’s career is examined thoughtfully and with twenty-first-century gentleness and exposed with recommended remedies. Her colleagues act as advocates for her theme: lean in, or take a risk and drive change for us all. And though there are no solutions offered, except in the formation of communities around the country and (we hope!) around the world, there’s tremendous reenergy in feeling that, thanks to Sandberg, the world just might be a different place. --Barbara Jacobs
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The best message to take from this book is to be aware of what is going on in the workplace. Take the opportunity to change the inequality. Don't wait for someone to "fix" things for you. When opportunities present themselves jump on them if it's what you want. Take control.
Annoyingly, some places feel more like convenient opportunities for Sandberg to show off her close relationships with big names - more a "look how cool I am" display of unnecessary details than truly relevant information the reader can use. If I wanted to hear about Sergey Brin doing yoga in his office I'd read articles about Brin, but I frankly don't care, and I am certainly not interested in getting this kind of extraneous detail from a book about WOMEN in the workplace.
I also think Sandberg flat-out missed the mark in some places. She describes a mentor in a way that really is more accurately reflective of what a sponsor is, and appears to have had a snide reaction to a woman leaving the company after feeling she didn't have a mentor. I could almost see Sandberg rolling her eyes and looking down on this woman for her description of what she thought was missing in the support she needed. While what the woman described might not be exactly what a mentor is either, she did describe an adviser role that is just as important a support for women, particularly early in their careers. Sandberg's assessment that this woman was really looking for a therapist therefor comes across as mean-girlish and professionally immature.
In summary, it doesn't hurt to read this book if it's one of many career books you pick up, but it's not even on the list of books I recommend to mentees, peers, or friends. If you're not a big reader and are likely to get through only a small number of professional books, don't make this one of them at the expense of better ones. I highly recommend She Wins, You Win: The Most Important Strategies for Making Women More Powerful.Expect to Win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace is also good. If you're only going to read one book, you'd be far better off with either of those than with Lean In.