Book Review: Lean In By Sheryl Sandberg

As women have fought for equal rights, it has remained difficult to know what to focus on when seeking true equality. Creating fair and equal space for women in the business world has been one of our most challenging endeavors. It seems that there are endless office supplies for women, desk accessories for women, and pen sets for women, but not nearly enough professional advancement for women.

Sheryl Sandberg explores the ways women can take control of the professional paths and get the opportunities and respect they deserve by “leaning in”. So what exactly is leaning in? There are several primary components.

  1. Be ambitious!
    Go for the power positions and aim for higher achievements than you originally thought were possible.

  1. Take Risks!
    Position yourself to negotiate for more, broaden your horizons, and diversify your skill sets.

  1. Speak Up!
    Don’t allow male voices to overwhelm you. Get the knowledge you need and don’t be afraid to speak up when you have something to say.

  1. Ask For Help!
    Seek cooperation at work and at home. Rather than settling for one mentor, ask people of all levels, all around you for suggestions to solving specific problems. By reaching out to people within their own wheelhouses, you are much more likely to tap a goldmine of knowledge.

  1. Be a Leader!
    Take leadership seriously in every role you fill, but also find out what it takes to fill top-tier leadership positions and strive to attain them.

The strength of Sandberg’s approach is that it describes the tough realities of the business while providing practical advice for women to make changes for themselves. Lean In isn’t a group movement, as such. Instead, it’s a leadership movement that starts from within each individual woman. These actionable tips are direct paths for women to seek success in new ways.

Sandberg also doesn’t shy away from talking about real challenges women face. She encourages women to ask for more help at home. So often women are forced to balance work and family while men take on the bulk of professional responsibilities. Lean In suggests that women and men share responsibilities at home and with children more evenly so that both may pursue successful careers.

Lean In makes note of inherent inequalities in a male-dominated society but also demonstrates the ways women can take ownership of their own success. It shows that honest communication and valuing one’s own contributions can lead to success in business without sacrificing family success and happiness. Being willing to take the steps to work like men while communicating openly about what women have to contribute is a step toward equality. Women still have a long way to go to overcome all of their challenges, but the tools are available to start the journey now. 

By leaning into the experience of rising to the top and have a successful life on all fronts, women can overcome the challenges of yesterday and today to stand among the giants of business success in the future. Lean In’s message: women are capable; and when they know the steps to take, they can achieve anything.

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