I’m sure you’ve heard about Sheryl Sandberg and her recent book Lean In. I know it feels as if everyone and their second cousin has been talking about it lately. But why? What does lean in mean, anyway? There may have been some vague discussions of lean in circles, along with a fair share of criticism, but it seems that few specifics about Sandberg’s argument are being discussed. That’s quite a shame.
Lean In is part-manifesto and part-memoir. It calls both women and men to action, serves as an inspiring read for those looking to move around in their career and provides interesting anecdotes. While the book may apply most to women working in the corporate world, the lessons and social ideas are applicable to anyone, more or less.
Lean in means leaning in at the conference table, leaning in at the dinner table. Leaning in is not being afraid to voice one’s opinions and actively particpate, no matter what the circumstances. Sandberg acknowledges that there are some differences between women and men, arguing that we need to accept these differences. She believes that these separations are largely social constructions and that, with a bit of effort, we can work to remove from our world views. It is an entirely refreshing viewpoint on what it means to be an ambitious woman in 2013.
Sandberg uses herself and her experiences as an example. One of the largest struggles she has faced as a woman in the corporate atmosphere is the uniquely feminine duty to balance work and family (her opinions on the term work/life balance are alone worth the read). This means that more than half the book discusses how women can organize their time between a demanding career and a fulfilling family life. She does touch upon the fact that there are plenty of women without families who are struggling to find the right level between working and personal pursuits, but by and large she doesn’t address the issues specific to them.
As much as I enjoyed the book and applauded Sandberg’s ideas, I did feel at certain points she drifted into too much anecdote and focused too much on family issues. The anecdotes made the book a compelling read, but sometimes I forgot I was reading a social argument and not a memoir. When Sandberg chooses to publish her memoir, I will gladly read it, but this book is, sometimes confusingly, not that story.
Everyone should read Lean In, most of all young women beginning or at crucial points in their careers. I knew a bit about Sandberg from watching her awesome Office Hours speed on Levo League (a must watch!), which definitely helped me understand her point of view a bit more. I loved Lean In and look forward to helping promote the ideas she suggests and embody a bit more of the confidence that she urges us females to embrace in the workplace. Let’s get to it.
Do you know about the lean-in phenomenon? What’s your current take on it?