Checking in, and reviewing Lean In

Amusingly, I still have two drafts that I started in late 2013. My review of Sheryl Sanberg’s Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, is one of them.

I actually read the book and wrote the review for Marketing, and it formed part of their recommended books feature for Christmas. However, seeing as I still stand by the whole idea of getting stuck in (and the benefit of saying ‘yes’ more), I thought I’d dig out my review and post it here as well.

Happy 2015 🙂

You could be forgiven for having heard of Lean In, but not actually knowing what the book is about. If Sheryl Sandberg weren’t chief operating officer of Facebook, would there have been such a furore? Possibly not.

There’s a lot of confusion about what “leaning in” actually is, and why it’s better or no different from other approaches for getting more women to the top.

As I understand it, “leaning in” simply means getting more involved. Obviously there’s rather more to it besides, but that seems to be the gist. While I recognise that taking advice on how to “break through glass ceilings” may be hard to hear from a Harvard graduate worth $400m, I do feel that the message of Sandberg’s book has suffered because of her somewhat controversial profile.

The idea of “leaning in” stands up to a point. I support the “fake it till you feel it” approach, plus the encouragement to get involved – but at the same time, I also subscribe to BBH legend Cindy Gallop’s approach. There are similarities in their views, largely centring on the need to put yourself forward and fight inner fear of failing, but Gallop suggests that we can redesign working models rather than align with them.

Reading between the lines, Lean In seems to suggest that you can play by the rules of the boys’ club to get to a senior level and then effect change from within. Is this the wrong thing to do? I don’t know. But do we even need to decide? The whole “you have to be in it to win it” mentality resonates with me, and that seems to be the most important thing.

Category: Elsewhere, PR & Marketing

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