Sunday, June 29, 2014

Book Review: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

The following post is a review of Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" I posted on Goodreads. It is a general review, but the book deserves another mention on certain aspects of the book I related to and that I Have found women guilty of doing as well. But that will be addressed in a separate post.

If the option were available, I would rate the book 4 1/2 stars. This is the heartfelt, sincere story of an executive woman with some valuable advice to dispense about making it in the workplace.
As I was reading, I was subconsciously waiting for that chapter where Sheryl Sandburg scolds women for the gender gap in the workplace, as her critics accused her when the book was first released. I never found it. Instead, what I found was the tribulations of making it to the top. And the belief that any woman with the commitment can as well.

The criticism that surrounded Sheryl Sandberg's book centered around three premises of advice she offers women:

1) Sit at the Table: It's high time women were accountable for their own advancement. We need to stop asking for permission to progress in the workplace. We do this by embracing the fact that we are as entitled to promotions and pay raises  as any of our male colleagues, regardless of their rank and status.

2) Don't leave before you leave: As women we need to plan ahead. This includes weighing the options of whether we can balance our personal lives with the professional ones - way before we even reach that level. Her response to women who are curious about that answer, Sheryl's response is a resounding yes. Any woman who wants to make it to the top echelons of her career can, but she needs to accept imperfection and uncertainty. It's important to note here that at no time does Sheryl assume that success is measured by full-time work. That may not be every woman's ideal definition of success, and that's okay. What she is assuming is that most women want to advance in whatever ambitions and goals they have set for themselves. Her word of advice is yes, we can make it, just stop planning and start doing. This is accomplished by taking risks and truly believing that we are as competent as any of our male peers, regardless of what path we choose. The only measure that determines whether we can reach our goals is the type of partner we choose to spend the rest of our lives with, and it should be with one who pitches in equally at home.

3) Success and Likeability: Women have been found to hold each other back. Several studies have found that more women, as well as men, prefer to work with a male boss than a female. Women who assert themselves in the workplace are considered bossy and unlikable, but a male who leads is just doing his job. It really has to stop, especially since this attitude continues today in the 21st century. What this does is make women believe that they can't lead unless they mask a fake smile on their faces and ask for permission to do their jobs.

So if Sheryl's critics were referring to her advice for women to rise up and take responsibility for their careers and other women as scolding, then yes, she was scolding. But only because her own experiences have taught her that we are not living to our fullest potential. She demonstrates this by injecting her personal anecdotes of setbacks, mistakes and lessons.

Highly recommended book. Going to bribe my college ready daughter to read it. And you should too.   

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