Cheat Sheet Principle of Life: Don’t leave before you leave.
About four years ago, I attended Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) session on personality development in Montreal, Canada. To this day, I follow what the speaker of that workshop told us, ‘always sit at the table, sit in the front row during the presentations and speak up to get noticed.
Four years later, I read a similar thing in the book, ‘Lean In’. The author of ‘Lean In’ is Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Face book. The book starts with the question, ‘Why don’t we have women leaders? What is stopping us from filling half of the leadership positions in the world? In this book, she discusses various issues that prevent women from aspiring bigger roles. Below are few of the interesting things I learned from this book
Women in powerful positions are less likable not only by men but also by women. The society in general expects a woman to be compassionate and helpful. When women in influential positions take harsh decisions, nobody likes it.
The professional world today is a jungle gym. It is no longer a smooth climbing ladder. Moving from one company to another for a better position is the natural process for growth. When attending an interview ask the interviewers, ‘What is your problem and how can I solve it?’ It is all about aiding the company to grow.
Sandberg also recounts of the instances when she was one of the few females in meetings and whenever she raised her voice to speak she was either overlooked or interrupted while asking questions. She claims that rebuttal is a natural response of men and most of the times they are not aware about it, it happens subconsciously. So speak up in spite of being put down, do not take it personally.
Sandberg also discusses about how women downsize their ambitions even before having children, because sooner or later they will have the kids and have to make all the sacrifices. She discusses a very good point that even if women plan to have a kid, there is full nine months before the child is born. If a woman takes higher roles before the nine month period she will have enough time to adapt to the new role. After the pregnancy break she will be in a different position from where she started and the new position will be an incentive to get back to work.
The professional success of a woman is not solely defined by her accomplishments. It also depends on the support from the spouse. Involve your spouse in bringing up the child and encourage him to take a share of the household responsibilities. Women have the myth of doing it all, being a supermom and also a super working professional. There will always be tradeoffs, but always take support of your spouse, loved ones and friends to get through tough situations.
She ends her book by saying that we should start talking more about vacuum of women in leadership roles. Women should also support other women to grow provided they have the right credentials and not be prejudiced or biased.
‘Lean In’ is a great book in which Sheryl Sandberg brings all the skeletons out of the closet and discusses about various issues that women face to grow professionally. It is a book that has to be read by all women on this planet. Men should also read this book so that they understand how women really think about their careers and help them to get out of the ambition whirlpool.
I also recommend this book to be read by women from other planets; however I strongly believe that they live in matriarchal societies and cover more than 50 % of the leadership positions. This book will be like a history text book for them.
Background modified to include the picture of the book.