Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Lean In"- This is a Leadership Book

I recently finished reading "Lean In:  Women, Work and The Will to Lead" by Sheryl Sandberg.  As the synopsis on the Kindle edition says "Sheryl Sandberg examines why women's progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling common sense solutions that can empower women to achieve full potential".  It's that....and much, much more.

I admit I wasn't easily drawn to the seemed like it was a book written by a woman, about women and for women.  However, there has been a lot of "fuss" about the book...some controversy and criticism from both men and women.  At one level I was curious what the fuss was all about.  At another level, I wanted to see what a senior successful woman had to say.  Sheryl Sandberg has two degrees from Harvard, been a McKinsey consultant, Chief of Staff of the US Treasury Department,  been a VP at Google and the COO of Facebook.  I had a hunch she had an important point of view.

To be clear, the core theme of the book is about achieving gender question about that.  She tackles gender inequality issues head on with data driven arguments.  An example is studies that show that "when a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. when a woman is successful people of of both genders like her less"....  and a study that "exclusive maternal care is not related to better outcomes for children"...and "a survey in 2012 showed that 80% of employed adults continue to work after leaving the office; 38% check email at the dinner table and 69% can't go to bed without checking their in-box" to name just a few.  She treats workplace gender issues in a provocative yet balanced way.

For me though, the book is about much broader themes of leadership. She tackles those straight on also....risk taking, the role of fear, feedback, mentoring and sponsorship, and choices.  Part of the beauty of this book is Sheryl Sandberg challenges us all. She challenges men to be better partners in the workplace and at home.  She challenges women to "Lean In", to take more risk, and "to scale back only when a  break is needed or a child arrives....not before."

Everyone needs to read this and women.  I've already recommended it to two mid-career couples who are friends and colleagues.  Although it's not a "leadership book" per is more about leadership than many books where that word appears in the title. 

I'm going to blog on this book for a few days but will close this one with a quote from the book:

  "We need to be able to talk about gender without people thinking (women) are crying for help, asking for special treatment or about to sue"

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