To lead organizations and to lead your life, everyone needs to lean in

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell, 2013

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell, 2013

I was attracted to the book title because my dear executive coach, Sukari Pinnock,  said over and over that I should “lean in” to the emotional and logistical discomfort of challenges associated with my leadership status at a company where I worked recently- lean in and own my strength rather than run away, which is what I so wanted to do!  Once I started reading Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book, I couldn’t put it down and absolutely devoured its advice about “women, work, and the will to lead.”

It’s easy to read because of the stories and the famous names straight from today’s headlines and because we get to peek behind the scenes of this powerful leader’s work and home life.  And it breaks your heart.  Because… why have women made so few leadership gains – physically and emotionally – in so many decades? Why do men get liked more as they succeed, and women less?  Why does it still require more sacrifice for a woman to take on demanding professional roles than for men?  And, most painful for me, why do many women in power still refuse to help those at lower levels, too afraid their hard-fought gains will be wiped out with any new talent?

And then you find the hope in the book, with practical advice about how to keep navigating, keep believing, keep making your own authentic choices and just going for them no matter what, keep having courage, keep asking, keep speaking up, keep your hand raised, keep showing up… and keep leaning in – as the path to 50/50 – a world where there are as many female CEOs as male, where home responsibilities are shared 50/50 among men and women, and where there will be no female leaders… just leaders.

At the heart of the book is the premise that even while organizations and political systems are changing to empower women in leadership roles (and they have to speed it up!), women can acknowledge and remove their internal beliefs and resulting behaviors that could be blocking their own success.  Changing from the inside out… that’s something I absolutely resonate with.  The book – which I believe men and women should read and discuss together – is sparking many a debate.  Sandberg welcomes this and offers ways to continue the dialogue, through her Lean In organization; on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Hear more:

Jon Stewart interviews Sheryl Sandberg about Lean In

Huffington Post interview with Sheryl Sandberg about being known as “nice” vs. “competent” – why does have to be one or the other?

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About Jaya Koilpillai Bohlmann
Global corporate communication, business, and organization behavior executive; author. My blog, DesigningCommunication, offers inspiration, insight, and tips for all professionals who want to express themselves effectively, and lead with integrity.

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