Men Need to Lean In Too

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

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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.

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A Business Alliance for the Future

Do business leaders get it? Do they understand the critical role business must play to address today’s biggest challenges, including melting glaciers, widening income disparity, disappearing rainforests, and the global economic crisis? My answer to these questions is yes, and I’d like to share some good news.

Specifically, there are a number of business associations working for positive change in the business realm. These organizations are adding members regularly and are working to promote a future in which success is defined in terms of the triple bottom line—people, profits, and the planet.

Representing a full range of companies from startups to multinationals, these associations are supporting and sponsoring a change in how business decisions are made. They view the impact on society and the environment as equal to that of financial gains and are creating a paradigm shift for business as we know it.

Next month, on March 17–19 in Santa Barbara, 50 leaders from 26 of these organizations along with four global outreach groups are meeting together for the first time at a summit to find ways to better leverage their individual work with the understanding that business needs to be the driver of positive change in the world.

As a participant in this first-of-its-kind summit, I’d like to acknowledge the following organizations (and members) for their important work to date and their foresight to join forces to accelerate change. I urge anyone reading this blog to familiarize yourself with these powerful teams and to determine where you could add your voice to create a more positive future.

This influential group

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of business associations is taking an All-In approach, integrating discipline and support with creativity and insight, all rooted in a firm foundation of values. For true sustainability in business, I believe this is the only way forward.

More to follow…

Business Associations
American Sustainable Business Council
Aspen Institute
B Team
Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
Business as an Agent of World Benefit
Business for Social Responsibility
Charter for Compassion International
Conscious Capitalism, Inc.
Emerging Changemakers Network
Esalen Institute
Fair Trade USA
Future 500
Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative
Great Work Cultures Big Tent Initiatives
Green Biz Group, Inc.
Institute for Sustainable Enterprise
Net Impact
New America Foundation
Opportunity Collaboration
Socially Responsible Investors
Social Venture Network
Transitioning to Green
World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM)
World Business Academy
World Business Council for Stainable Development (USA)
Young Presidents’ Organization

Global Affiliations / Service Organizations / Outreach
Clinton Foundation
Democracy Unlimited
Pachamama Alliance
White House Office for Social Innovation and Civic Participation

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Unconventional Values

“It’s just business” is a phrase I have heard many people use in my professional career. For me, this phrase has become a red flag. In my experience, more often than not the individual using this phrase is signaling their choice to separate personal and professional values, a practice I believe has a broad and negative impact.

The good news is that there is a seemingly endless list of positive values that individuals demonstrate most comfortably in their personal lives. These include, but are certainly not limited to, authenticity, compassion, honesty, kindness, service, and trust. When asked, most people will say they live their values outside the confines of familiar territory. The bad news is that too often human behavior tells another story.

Too many of us make very different choices when in unfamiliar surroundings or when dealing with unfamiliar people. To maintain self-esteem, we become good at rationalization. One bad decision leads to another and soon we find that our actions contradict our values. I do not believe that the majority of bad decisions start with people who wanted to do evil, as the growing number of white-collar crimes might suggest. Instead, I believe many of these individuals merely started down the slippery slope of believing “it’s just business.”

We need more among us to act in a clear and consistent manner so that our values are never in question because they are apparent in all that we do. When our values are what get us out of bed in the morning and what help us sleep at night, everything about what we do, the people we connect to, and our relationship with ourselves will change. I have worked with many clients who have chosen to let their values lead their actions, and their results show it. To accomplish this level of alignment, there are several choices we must make.

First, we need to take time to consciously reflect on and become clear about the values that hold the most importance to us.

Second, we need to become far more comfortable talking about and displaying our values so they are clear to others. I recommend actively talking to others about our values—as opposed to keeping them to ourselves—as a way of reinforcing the important foundation our values play in all that we do. The unconventional practice of beginning each task, project, conversation, or transaction by first checking in with our values will continually raise the bar at all the right times.

Many notable and successful organizations have made the visibility of their values a top priority. Whole Foods prominently posts their values in each store. Zappos displays them on delivery packages. In business, we need to be sure that our values are not only prominently displayed on the wall, but that they are also included on the agenda—every single day.

Third, we need to practice carrying out our values in our day-to-day lives and to reinforce that behavior in others when we see it.

Our values must form the foundation of everything that we do in order for us to be effective and successful both personally and in business. When we are strongly rooted in our values, and when we make that commitment apparent to others, our positive impact in the world multiplies. When it becomes conventional for businesses and individuals to both more visibly talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to their values, we’ll all be better off.

This is the fifth of a series of five blogs about the All-In Roadmap elements:

Unconventional Discipline
Unconventional Support
Unconventional Creativity
Unconventional Insight

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Unconventional Insight

It seems as if every media outlet these days is offering an article, blog, book, or talk on happiness. Virtually everyone has a view on the formula for bliss. Most provide conventional advice for what you can do to increase the probability of true contentment and success. Fewer emphasize the critical connection between what you do and who you choose to be. Very few offer a roadmap to help you on the important life journey of self-knowing, or insight. Respectfully, I offer the view that both individuals and groups will be happier when this form of unconventional insight becomes the norm.

In my experience, there are five powerful ways for you to increase your insight.

Be present – When you are totally aware and conscious, you can use all of your senses to learn the most possible in the current moment. Try to maintain your total focus on the tasks at hand and enjoy the quality of experience that results when you are not thinking about the past nor focused on the future. Your ability to be totally attentive and in the moment energizes any activity you choose to focus on, including building your self-awareness.

Be accepting – When you choose to accept people and circumstances for who and what they are, you can escape the frustration of trying to change people and/or change the past. When you accept the past, as well as remain open to circumstances and people, you open yourself to the possibilities of learning from all situations and from every individual.

Be still – Contrary to many Western cultural norms, perhaps your most important choice is to develop the deeper understanding and truth that come with the inner balance of being still. With all the noise that surrounds you regularly, you have the wonderful opportunity to find a quiet place to listen to the voice that matters most—your own. Your ability to develop trust and confidence in your own voice will offer the greatest potential to learn who you truly are.

Be generous – When you choose to be charitable with your possessions, your money, and your time, you will experience a powerful inner peace. By achieving the important balance between giving and receiving, you eliminate much of the possibility of arrogance, and you will remain genuinely and truly humble. Humility will help you remain open to a greater understanding of who you are.

Be grateful – It is easy to be grateful when things are going well. It takes inner strength and composure to remain grateful when facing one of life’s difficult periods. You have the choice to remain appreciative of the opportunity to learn lessons from the challenges you are asked to face. By doing so, your experience can be transformed and you will learn more about your true self, which will bring about happiness.

What is perhaps most unconventional about this approach to insight is the progressive combination of these individually important attributes, each of which is a choice you can make. By choosing to be increasingly more present, accepting, still, generous, and grateful on a regular basis, you will heighten your understanding of yourself and tap into a deeper meaning of happiness that is unshakable.

This is the fourth of a series of five blogs about the All-In Roadmap elements:

Unconventional Discipline
Unconventional Support
Unconventional Creativity
Unconventional Values

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