Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

by Tanya Monteiro on 02/24/2014

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Since this book was launched I’ve ummed and aahed about reading it, the title never really appealed to me and none of the reviews I’d read said WOW. Then at the airport the other day I decided to buy 2 more books (after the 15 I had already bought in nyc, I seem to have some kind of addiction to books stores that cannot be satisfied in durban). Anyway, I said to myself I would get the 2 books that spoke to me in the next 5 mins or I’d be late for my forever walk to the plane.

lean in

Lean In, jumped out and said read me, I am so pleased it did.

Working in the Financial & Technology sector in London I remember very clearly wondering to myself why so many of my clients were men. I had expected more women in this world for some reason. Then I moved to NYC and I thought, for sure there would be more women in Finance & Tech in NYC. This was actually true, there were certainly more women managers on Wall Street but I was struck by just how much like men they were. (or they were trying to be). I can still count on my one hand the amount of female clients I would deal with in comparison to male clients. Bear in mind that the average deal would consist of about between 5 and 16 decision makers. Zero, male/female equality in what I was exposed to.

Sheryl has done an enormous amount of research in Lean In, the proof is in the Notes section at the back of the book. It takes up 53 pages, 4 pages short of a quarter of the book.

“A 2011 McKinsey report noted that men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted based on past accomplishment.” – ‘She is very ambitious’, is just not a compliment in our culture.

It is clear to me that a large part of my development, even allot of my past goals were in large part formed by the society I lived in and the family environment I grew up in. This, I really do believe, is where some of the bigger shifts need to take place. We land up performing according to our stereotype, and we all know what that means for women leaders, how many women run fortune 500 companies are there?

18 = 18 out of 500.

Allot of what Sheryl is able to get across is that allot of the problem does lie in our own internal barrier’s but like all major obstacles they usually start and end within ourselves.

Sheryl does not pretend to have the perfect solutions but what I respect about her is that she has the courage to write this book. That by speaking out, listening to others struggles, sharing her own and giving a platform to a very real opportunity for all of us, both men and women can open their minds a little more and become more aware of this imbalance.

If the ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have, there is no reason for there not to be 250 + or – Female CEO lead fortune 500 companies.

A quote that has stuck with me since reading this book is one that sits in Facebook’s offices.

[For more inspiring reading take a look at Elizabeth Gilberts advise to women on Elizabeth gilberts advice to women get out of your own way


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