Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
Publisher: WH Allen
Published: 8/6/2015
Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is a massive cultural phenomenon and its title has become an instant catchphrase for empowering women. The book soared to the top of bestseller lists internationally, igniting global conversations about women and ambition. Sandberg packed theatres, dominated opinion pages, appeared on every major television show, and sparked ferocious debate about women and leadership.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg


Lean In is a rallying cry for women everywhere to adopt masculine professional traits in order to achieve positions of power. Girls are increasingly surpassing boys in academic performance, but these statistics aren’t transferring to the professional domain. If the corporate arena were a jungle gym, then women must employ unconventional, unladylike strategies like accepting opportunity without questioning their competency and speaking their truth unapologetically in order to reach the top of the monkey bars.

About the Author

Sheryl Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and founder of Leanin.org. She became the first woman to serve on the Board of Facebook in 2012. Under her leadership, Facebook went from operating at a multimillion-dollar loss to bringing in profits exceeding $20 billion as of 2018. Forbes named Sandberg #11 in their list of Power Women (2018), #12 in their list of America’s Self-Made Women (2018) and #1425 in their list of Billionaires (2019). She resides in California, USA with her two children.

Key Takeaways

-Girls earn about 57% of undergraduate and 60% of master’s degrees in the U.S. as compared to their male counterparts.
-Despite achieving academic success, women continue to trail men in top-level workforce leadership positions.
-Men take risks and aim for positions seen as challenging and requiring a lot of responsibility, whereas women are more likely to refrain from seeking higher-level positions of authority. Therefore, more men land leadership positions.
-Women let feelings of inadequacy and fear of being disliked hold them back from pursuing opportunities for which they qualify, and this is symptomatic of a more systemic dilemma.
-Women are overly-critical of themselves and their colleagues and the media are also hypercritical of women who engage in perceived unladylike behavior in order to achieve professional ends.
-Successful men are viewed favorably whereas equally successful women are critiqued and are looked at with disdain.
-The corporate environment is a jungle gym, not a ladder; therefore, women ought to seek unconventional means of getting to the top of the monkey bars. The tactics women should employ to achieve this look very masculine.
-Sandberg calls for women to employ strategies often used by men to excel in their professions. These strategies include “fake it until you feel it”, or do something that you feel you may not be fully qualified for until you have the experience under your belt to succeed in it.
-Women should also, according to Sandberg, speak up more and say what’s on their minds instead of suppressing it in politeness.
-Don’t wait for a mentor to show you how to lead; take charge and take a chance at a promotion or higher opportunity.
-‘Lean in’ means to embrace challenging opportunities that may intimidate us in order to experience growth, personal development and professional advancement.


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