I was super keen to read this as I love a good self-help book and it is written by a very powerful and influential woman. I admire her because she has worked so hard to become successful and wants to inspire other women to do the same. However, I noted that she comes from a fairly privileged background which has provided her with certain opportunities and confidence that helped her to succeed. She also acknowledges this throughout her book so I took some of her opinions and advice with a grain of salt.
‘Lean In’ is short and written in an easy-to-read conversational style with lots of personal experiences, tips and facts. The book does encourage women to lean in at the boardroom table and be confident in a man’s corporate world. However there are also a lot of great chapters such as making sure your partner is supportive and how to find a real mentor.
My 2 key take-aways were:
1. Career planning: Sandberg says that you should have a long-term (say 20-year) goal and a short-term (18-month) goal. Your long term goal can be to run an NGO, and the short-term goal could be to make the promotion in your current role. At the end of 18 months, assess your situation and think about your next move. It could be to stay in your current job or find a new company or career path. But don’t think too far in advance and focus on what’s going on now.
2. A junior once asked Sandberg how to plan her career for when she had a baby. Turns out that the junior didn’t even have a boyfriend at the time. Sandberg advised her to climb the corporate ladder and not to turn down opportunities because she was afraid of not having to time for a family when she was older. Take action when you are actually pregnant and can’t perform the same duties anymore.
In my opinion though, I think some people – men or women – are lucky and will have it all in some way or another. There are some women who are super confident and will speak up at a table full of powerful men without a care in the world (eg. Gail Kelly, CEO of Westpac) and there are some men who are shy and won’t lean in at the table. Some people are driven with a hunger to succeed while others are comfortable earning a little more than enough to provide for their families. At the end of the day, we can only do our best with what we have been given and take the great opportunities that come our way. Do what makes you happy and go with the flow of life.
I recommend that you read ‘Lean In’ as it will be a topic at your Women’s Network or girls’ brunch table for the next year or so. I think everyone will find a chapter that hits home for them (and just skip the ones that don’t – no point in wasting time reading something that won’t help you!).