Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead By Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg’s blueprint for a more gender-equal workplace is an effective read about the small things we can do to change the attitudes of women entering the workplace

Women on top

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Published by: Knopf

ISBN: 978-0385349949

Pages: 240

Price: INR 550

Remember the manifesto written by Tom Cruise’s character in Jerry Maguire that got him fired because it was too idealistic? Well, I wonder what effect the feminist manifesto by Sheryl Sandberg had in her workplace, cool as working at Facebook can be.

There are many detractors against Sandberg’s vision of a world where “half the countries would be ruled by women and half the households would be run by men”, who say that her view is too simplistic and hedonistic. But isn’t there something to be said for a woman who is trying to instill in a little girl the confidence that it’s OK to want to be successful?

Much like Allison Tate’s plea to moms to get ‘in the picture’ no matter their size, shape and form; Sheryl asks women to ‘sit on the table’ – to get involved in the conversations and not be afraid of taking risks in the workplace. One idea that really stands out for me is how we girls are brought up to see successful working women as hard, masculine and not good enough and how much this social conditioning needs to change. The Jungle Gym approach, where anybody can be successful through one of the many routes, makes for really interesting reading because it does seem to be much more realistic than a ladder to success that only allows for one way up or down.

As a middle management executive, I am also guilty of feeling like I’m in a job where I’m not good enough for the job and may get fired as soon as they realise my incompetence. It was, in fact, Sandberg’s TED Talk that made me realise that I had been chosen because I was good at what I did or I wouldn’t have been given the job in the first place. Now her book made me realise that while it is actually possible to do it all, you are not a failure if you don’t. It has been a struggle for me to accept the person I am, and this ‘simplistic’ view of female executives was the perfect little first step in the right direction.

Sandberg’s blueprint for a more gender-equal workplace is an effective read about the small things we can do to change the attitudes of women entering the workplace. It is also a great tool of conversation about how mindsets need changing, right from the kitchen counters going outwards. Hopefully, I will live to see the day my niece will feel on top of the world about being a CEO even though her workers might not be crazy about her.

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