Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

9780385349949Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Published by Knopf, an imprint of Random House

From the publisher:

Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.

Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

In Lean In, Sandberg digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.”  She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home.

Written with both humor and wisdom, Sandberg’s book is an inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth. Lean In is destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can.

I read this book almost two months ago and I am still thinking about it, almost every single day. That’s how relevant Sandberg’s message is to my life. I literally think about something she wrote in this book at least once per day – and I think this sentiment will echo with most everyone who reads it.

I’m a woman in a leadership position at a company in which almost every executive is male, in an industry in which almost every executive is male. So this book hit particularly close to home for me. That being said, I think most people (not just women, I’ll get there) can find something to grab onto here, something that will cause you to stop and think and maybe even have one of those “aha” moments.

Personally, I found myself looking back through a lot of the choices I’ve made since … well, high school, really, and realizing that although I consider myself pretty successful for my age, I could possibly have made a few different choices. And not that the choices I’ve made so far aren’t good ones, it’s more like, once I look through the lens of societal norms and pressure on the different genders and all that, well it just makes me see things a bit differently.

It’s hard to explain, because Sandberg covers SO much ground here and gives an incredible amount of good advice, it’s impossible for me to be concise about what I found so valuable in the book. Basically – everything was valuable to me. And she provides so much evidence to support what she’s saying, and so much honesty about her own life, that it’s next to impossible not to hang onto every word. Which is exactly what I did.

Oh! And I listened to the audio, narrated by Elisa Donovan, and it was a great experience. She did an excellent job, and for me books like this just work really well in audio.

I have to say this, too – Lean In is absolutely not just for women. Personally I am married to a man and my boss is a man, and I think they could both benefit tremendously from reading this book. Because they both have wives (and in my boss’s case, daughters) and because they both have female employees. So not only do I highly recommend this as required reading for ALL women (I don’t care what you do for a living – full-time mother, doctor, teacher, lawyer, whatever, it’s relevant) but I think it should be required reading for all men who work with or live with women.

Reading this book gave me a huge level of respect for Sheryl Sandberg and I’m now one of her biggest fans. If you’ve read this, I’d love to discuss! What did you think?

7 thoughts on “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg”

  1. Yeah I’ve been there, the job where you are in charge of men, and are peers with men. It isn’t easy. You have a grow a couple, and develop a very thick skin. Don’t even get me started on the working mom thing. Although I am sure Sandberg often times is no picnic to work with, I would have loved to have had a mentor like her. All women need mentors like her. I’m going to see if I can get this one on audio…

  2. I am DYING to read this. I have a different perspective than yours…I just left my job of 8+ years to be a stay-at-home mom, and I am definitely one of those women that made career decisions in a way that would allow me to have maximum flexibility for family responsibilities. I know Sandberg (at least based on what I read in the Time interview she did) is not a huge advocate of that…but I’m interested in what she has to say nonetheless.

  3. I loved this book too and thought the advice she gave in it was very insightful and helpful. And I actually have always worked in a female dominated field (social work and then mental health counseling) but I still found things in there that would be useful to any female in the workforce in general.

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