“Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg

I’m a feminist. There, I’ve said it. Not all the books that I read or review share the same thoughts that I hold, that female leaders might one day just be known as “leaders,” that thinking of a female president will one day not be so scary that it cripples our country at the ballet box, that my daughter might have the same opportunities as my son… the list goes on. It is, however, a pure joy when I get to read and share a work that believes whole-heartedly in women as much as I do. For the very first book review of the New Year, I’m proud to present with you, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg.

When it comes to the world of business, Sheryl Sandberg knows a thing or two that she might be able to share. Not only is she the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, on Fortune’s list of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business,” and a best-selling author, she’s even been pegged as a possible presidential candidate for 2020 (I have a yard sign ready to go, Sheryl). In “Lean In,” which is part autobiography and part self-help book, Sandberg dissects the current climate of women in the workplace and examines how it could even be possible that women still hold so many fewer leadership roles than men in American corporations.

“A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.” – Sheryl Sandberg, “Lean In”

Right away I liked Sandberg’s style. This woman does not hold her tongue about the issues in our current business culture or what we can do to begin changing it. Instead, she points directly to long held stereotypes that affect the way women present themselves just as much as the way men perceive us. “Most leadership positions are held by men, so women don’t expect to achieve them, and that becomes one of the reasons they don’t,” she explains. Rather than waiting for roles we know we can do well, Sandberg advises that we look for opportunities that we want, fight to get them, and then learn how to do them as we go. If women didn’t feel fraudulent about being praised for their success, says Sandberg, how much further might we be in our journey to the top?

“Aggressive and hard-charging women violate unwritten rules about acceptable social conduct. Men are continually applauded for being ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty. Female accomplishments come at a cost.”- Sheryl Sandberg, “Lean In”

This book is everything you’ve heard it is- a call to action, a motivation to start pursuing your best life, a road map to changing the way you think and act in the work place. It’s also, however, so much more than that. I found myself silently cheering on almost every page as Sandberg called out the underlying characteristics we all seem to struggle with and then expertly addressing how we would start changing them immediately. After all, “social gains are never handed out,” Sheryl counsels, “they must be seized.” I highly recommend “Lean In” as your New Year, New You bible, getting you ready to take on the world one well thought-out decision at a time. Trust me, your inner feminist will love it.

“We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small. By lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.” –Sheryl Sandberg, “Lean In”