Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg and Nell Scovell
Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and writer Nell Scovell, was released in 2013 in response to Sandberg’s 2010 TedTalk on the ways women tend to hold back both in business and in their personal lives. Sandberg uses personal observations and experiences, as well as well-qualified research, to encourage women to pursue their dreams, be confident in their convictions and, most importantly, lean in rather than hold back. From the success of this book, the term lean in has taken on a whole new meaning and launched a revolution where women around the world are creating “lean in [group] circles” or sharing experiences together through #LeanInTogether.
From the first sentence, I was drawn into this book. Sandberg has a way of using precise and captivating research to justify the claims and assumptions she’s made from her experiences in both climbing the corporate ladder and being apart of a family. What makes this book so well acclaimed is the fact that it’s written by Sandberg herself, a woman who has led the charge for women in the corporate world and technology sphere – from her humble beginnings as the chief of staff for the US Secretary of the Treasury and working in the early-stages of Google to her most recent role as COO for Facebook. It’s safe to say Sandberg has been around the block, and although she works for a social network her personal life had been kept relatively private prior to the book launch. Readers (or at least readers like myself) were excited to learn about how Sandberg got where she is today. These experiences are qualified, and her convictions intelligent and intriguing. When you add justified research to the mix, you have a recipe for an intellectually stimulating and thought provoking content and words of wisdom.
I genuinely do not have a con. The con is that I wish more men would be willing to read this book and gain some insight into what it’s like to have to fight to have a seat at the table, regardless of qualifications. The only other con I have is that this is another book that I would not deem as a business book.
Disclaimer: It is also not a feminist book, contrary to belief.
If anything, you can call it a well-written research paper, mixed with personal anecdotes, that encourages action and accountability in the women of the world. You might learn things that will help you in business, but you should not read the book for that purpose.
“Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder. There’s only one way to get to the top of a ladder, but there are many ways to get to the top of a jungle gym.”
“Whenever possible, women should substitute ‘we’ for ‘I.’”
“It is hard to visualize someone as a leader if she is always waiting to be told what to do.”
“Knowing that things could be worse should not stop us from trying to make them better.”
Clearly, I give this book a well-deserved A+. While I don’t doubt that this book isn’t for everyone, it should be. As I said, this isn’t a business book but it’s not a feminist book either. This book is a revelation and, in turn, the start of a revolution. I would like to hope this book doesn’t become a classic, but I can’t see this book ever being irrelevant or outdated. It doesn’t matter if you’re young, old, smart, lazy or apathetic, you will relate to this book in some shape or form. If you haven’t had any experiences where you can relate to this book, you read these experiences with the understanding that they can and will happen to you one day. While some of the real-life accounts can be daunting, they also instill action in readers to make small changes in their own lives to enact change on a universal level. Sandberg presents this evidence and these stories in a composed and classy manner, instilling motivation and hope rather than anger, resentment or surrender. That’s what makes this book an informational tale of “how to be a woman in the world.” A book that instills awareness and the desire for the right kind of change. If you haven’t already, please make a point to skim through this book, and lean in.