Review: Lean In – Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

ImageTitle: Lean In – Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Author: Sheryl Sandberg

Rating: ★★★★

Provided Synopsis: 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 onFortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one ofTime’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.

Review: Lean In sparks the start of a conversation that the world needs to have. For far too long have I heard and learned about the inequality that still exists in the workplace. Plenty of people will say that the strides being taken to remedy this problem have come a long way, and I do agree with that point — yet, it is still not enough and Sandberg admits to this while calling upon woman to take further action. To “lean in” is to take a greater interest in your career. Sandberg strongly advocates for woman to strive for leadership roles, dream big, push the boundaries of what is thought possible, and most importantly, to not take yourself out of the race before you have even begun.

There were so many lessons that I took from this book; in fact, I even found myself taking notes for further reflection and points of reference. I’ve learned to believe in my own abilities, to not underestimate my intelligence or ambitions, to stop thinking about failure, to always look for a job prospect that will offer potential for fast growth, how to confidently negotiate my salary and benefits, to not sacrifice my success for being “liked,” and to think of careers as a jungle gym rather than a ladder since there is always more than one way to reach the top.

Trust me when I say that I believe this book will appeal to all people. It is written in a clear and informative voice, and it also includes calls to action and recognition for both genders. I have not quite reached the point in my life where I am considering having a family, but those woman who are on that path can take heed of the words in this book. As a woman with two young children, Sandberg is forthcoming about her choice to be a working mother along with the guilt/doubt she sometimes feels over her choice. Society has always advocated for a traditional approach to the home, which includes the woman as the primary caregiver and the man as the responsible provider. When these norms are challenged there are often questions and judgments presented to the woman of how she manages to cope; keep in mind, however, that a man also has children, yet he is never asked this same question. So how do we break out of these societal expectations? If we want to, then Sandberg says “success is making the best choices we can…and accepting them.” Meaning that if we choose to be a working mother or father, or a stay-at home father or mother, then we must accept our eventual doubts and come to see the greater picture of why we made the choice when we did. We must lean in to every choice that we make.

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One thought on “Review: Lean In – Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

  1. Great review, and a great book. I listened to about half of it on audio, so I still need to finish the whole thing, but I also learned a lot from the parts I did read. The only thing that I might disagree with is “always look for a job prospect that will offer potential for fast growth.” I recently turned down a job offer that, while it would have accelerated me much higher much faster, wouldn’t have been exactly what I want to do. I decided it’s better to stick it out where I am because I love what I’m doing. Some industries simply take much longer to move up because of the nature of them. But, all the same, women shouldn’t let that be an excuse to avoid taking a promotion with more responsibility. But there are a lot of things to consider!

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