I am a fan of Sheryl Sandberg’s best seller Lean In. Specifically, the counsel she offers women to help them take charge of their lives is compelling. Sandberg speaks of the struggle for equal pay, equal treatment, and equal voice in the workplace and she provides specific advice to help women come into their rightful leadership roles with more confidence. In my view, however, the book is just as valuable to men as it is to women. I believe if more men read the book they will not only better understand the institutional challenges facing women—and to work to level the playing field because it’s the right thing to do—but they will also benefit personally from many of Sandberg’s insightful suggestions.
Among the many great ideas offered, the following stand out for me:
- Acknowledge self-doubt and realize at times you may need to fake it to make it
- Understand the relationship between likeability and success
- Learn to withstand criticism
- Build mutually supportive relationships in and outside work
- Practice self-advocacy
- Look for mentors by first being a great mentee, and mentor others
- Bring your whole self to work
- Learn to really listen
- Be a role model of integrity in everything you are and do
- Utilize “nudge techniques” to bring about important changes
The only area where I might differ from Ms. Sandberg’s hypothesis is in her assertion that “Having it all is a myth.” I
prefer the view offered by Dr. Arlene Cardozo in her 1986 book Sequencing in which she asserts “you can have it all, but not all at once.” In this area, to Sandberg’s credit, she offers sage counsel in the chapter “Don’t leave before you leave.” Her message: Be all-in, and give it 100% every day you are at work. This is true for women and men.
Personally, I chose to leave the rigors of corporate life for a period when my oldest son entered high school with my daughter two years behind. I stepped off the ladder during several prime earning years knowing that my heavy workload had impacted family time during their early years. I knew that once college started I would not have the opportunity for a different level of family connection again. In this way, I was able to have it all, just not all at once.
In my view, Sandberg’s Lean In offers excellent advice to women and men. I think that if more people utilize her advice, both women and men will benefit.