Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg: Book Review

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg examines the topic of women’s leadership, issues with a lack of women in government and business leadership positions, and feminism. Sheryl Sandberg sends a call to professional women to help themselves, and support other women to make small changes in their life so that change in the workplace can happen on a universal scale.

Sheryl Sandberg is COO of Facebook and founder of Leanin.org (all proceeds from the sale of Lean In go to Leanin.org). Before Facebook Sandberg was vice president of global online sales and operation at Google, and was involved in launching Google’s philanthropic arm Google.org. Before Google, Sheryl Sandberg served as Chief of Staff for United States secretary of the treasury Lawrence Summers.

In 2012 Sandberg was named in the Time 100, an annual list of 100 most influential people in the world according to Time magazine.

Part autobiography and part manifesto to empower women to take more leadership positions in government and business. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is for professional women, to help them achieve career goals.

Sheryl Sandberg believes that the main barriers for women include:

  • Society’s barriers: sexism, discrimination and sexual harassment
  • Women’s own barriers: internalising systematic discrimination and societal gender roles.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead Sheryl Sandberg proposes that the solution is for women to ‘lean in’ to leadership roles. That the more female voices in positions of power will equal more equitable opportunities for everyone. Sheryl Sandberg shares her own boardroom career experiences with self deprecating humour, and shares her wisdom to help empower women to put their hand up, speak out and don’t be afraid to ask for a fair wage and the same opportunities as men at work.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead was written at a time of great success in Sheryl Sandberg’s life. Sadly her husband Dave Goldberg, father to her two children and biggest champion, died suddenly in 2015. Sheryl Sandberg has gone onto write Option B (released April 2017) following this experience. I have this on my reading list and will review separately.

There has been criticism that Sheryl Sandberg is elitist and couldn’t possible understand the everyday struggles of most women.  Yes, there are parts of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead that most working women don’t have in common with Sheryl Sandberg. Private chefs, full time nannies and out sourcing to a degree that most could not afford. Furthermore, not all women have the support of a partner and face the challenge of single parenting while working full time. Sheryl Sandberg went on to acknowledge this oversight, following her personal experience of grief after the death of her husband Dave Goldberg.

Sheryl Sandberg has said that the advice contained in Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is what she had wished for at the start of her career, before success at Google and Facebook. The advice is heart felt and certainly any women who is starting their career will benefit from Sheryl Sandberg’s advice.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead was written in 2013. The question is this book still relevant today? Yes’ I believe it is. The latest results from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (Australian Government August 2016) demonstrate that we clearly have a long way to go before our daughters will have a equal chance at a leadership role with equal pay in both government and business. See Equality in the Workplace: Ideas Worth Exploring for the latest statistics from the Australian Government.

I recommend Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead to professional women who want help in achieving their career goals and men who want to contribute to a more equitable society. Anyone who is interested in leadership and how the major companies of our time, Google and Facebook operate will enjoy Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

Sheryl Sandberg’s story is not necessarily unique, in a lot of ways her journey has been similar to fellow success story Ariana Huffington. However, Sheryl Sandberg is passionate in her call to action for women to step up and take their rightful position in government or private enterprise to help create more equitable opportunities for everyone.

I enjoyed reading Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

Ideas Worth Exploring: Equality in the Workplace, Feminism, Equality, Women’s Leadership, Smart Girls