Sheryl Sandberg is probably the most powerful women in the business world today. Her role as Facebook COO (“chief of operations”) grants her enormous influence over what goes on in the web industry. In her new book, “Lean In”, Sandberg is speaking from experience when she challenges women to be more ambitious and achieve more in their careers. She advocates for equality in the workplace and at home, emphasizing that women are often the ones “holding themselves back” due to internal obstacles and deeply entrenched traditional patterns of behavior.
Despite the fact that society has outlined strict roles for each sex, Sandberg goes into great detail about how today’s “career loving” women can balance both career and family (though she claims that having it all is a myth), if they were to “Lean In”.
This means making proactive changes, as well as challenging the notions of traditional patterns of behavior of both men and women in the workforce and at home. Sandberg implores women to believe in their abilities and to stop hanging back and avoiding challenges.
So how can you “Lean In”? Here are some of Sandberg’s practical (we didn’t say easy!) suggestions, for applying her “Lean In” philosophy to your life and join the initiative to advancement of women and attaining gender equality:
Create a Long-term goal and an 18 month plan: Your long term goal should be general and your 18 month plan more specific. This allows you to know the bigger picture that you are working towards in life, headed by smaller, more immediate steps you need to take to get there.
Learn How to Negotiate: Whether it’s for a salary or closing a multimillion dollar deal, women must learn the delicate art of negotiating by being “relentlessly pleasant”, taking a communal approach (always speak in “we”, not “I”) and focus on benefiting the team.
Embrace Risk: Playing it safe will serve nothing to advance you. Only when you seek “diverse experiences”, even if it means making several career changes, will you experience growth.
Learn New Skills And be a fast learner. Never be afraid to take on a new position because you fear that you might not have 100% of the skills or qualifications of other applicants. You should and can always learn on the job.
Join a formal Mentorship Program Or find a naturally occurring mentorship (or sponsor) in your workplace, be it a superior or a peer. Having someone to show you the ropes and to teach from their own experiences is invaluable.
Communicate with others as authentically as you can: Don’t be afraid to solicit feedback from others at work. Be honest and use humor where appropriate to make things more personal. Don’t be afraid that showing emotion will make you less likeable.
Allow yourself to feel upset when harshly or publicly criticized, and then quickly move on. This happens to everyone at some point and it’s ok to feel anger, but the faster you put it behind you the better.
Choose a life partner who is a true partner: Establish a 50/50 (though it never is exact) relationship from the beginning. Don’t wait until after children are born because then it becomes even harder. Your life partner should be truly supportive of your career so pick a good one. Also encourage male partners take on a more nurturing role and “lean in” in the home.
Don’t strive for perfection: Sandberg writes about a quote on the wall in the Facebook offices that says “Done is better than perfection.” It’s not necessary to overwork to overcompensate and setting limits is ok. Since you can never have control over everything, nor can you please everyone all the time, don’t set unattainable goals. Time is limited and life is often unpredictable, embrace that and enjoy the ride.
Sandberg’s book is creating waves amongst young and ambitious women all over the world. “Lean In” work groups are popping up in many cities, and we even had the opportunity to host one of them in the Wix Lounge in New York. If you want to get involved, search for local “Lean In” groups near you.