Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is a 2013 book written by Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, and Nell Scovell, TV and magazine writer.
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.
Lean In – 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
Review By Susan H
I had heard some of the buzz about this book before I picked it up. Usually I don’t do reviews, but I like reading what other people say about books. I’m writing this because I think some of the reviewers are missing what is significant (at least) to me about the book. Of course, Sheryl Sandberg is priviledged. No one in my family would even dream of going to Harvard. There are no doctors in my family. I don’t make millions a year. I’m single with no children. Basically I could disregard half of the book. HOWEVER, the other half really struck a cord with me. I’ve also been criticized for being too direct — something that is not considered negative for a man. It made me think about how I approach meetings. Do I speak up? Do I wait for someone else to ask a question so I won’t have to? Do I sit at the table? Do I have a voice that says I’m not qualified? Am I an imposter? Thinking about these questions made me realize that I can be passive about my career choices. There’s a young man in my department who is new to the industry and training for his new position. Every meeting he speaks up. Even though some of his questions and comments are boarderline embarrassing, I guarantee upper management knows who he is. It doesn’t bother him at all to ask those questions. It’s an interesting contrast to all the women just sitting there.
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.