I recently finished reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and really enjoyed it. There were a lot of inspiring stories and messages throughout the book and it gave me a lot to think about. Here a few points that stood out to me as I was reading it:
Are you my Mentor?
This was the title of a chapter in the book and Sheryl had a really refreshing take on mentorship. She wrote about how women sometimes approach other colleagues with this exact question and that this is not the way to find a mentor! She emphasized the benefits of having a mentor or sponsor, but that these relationships often form organically. It can be difficult to find mentors sometimes, but almost cold-calling people asking for mentorship isn’t the best approach. Instead you need to cultivate relationships and be very respectful of people’s time if you want some of it.
There was lots of wonderful stuff written about how important it is to have a supportive partner in your journey for career success. Sheryl wrote about how she rarely saw high-ranking women whose partners didn’t share childcare responsibility. I’d never read anything talking about this subject before, and the positive spin made me partiuclarly happy.
There was so much space in this book given up to having a family and how to handle having a career alongside chlidren. Again, this is something I don’t hear many people talking about so it was great to see someone with real and positive experiences talk about it.
Sheryl is the CTO of Facebook: she’s at the very top of her field and is incredibly successful. The topic of the book is about female leadership in the workplace. With the lack of women in high-ranking positions in business, there clearly needs to be more conversations about this topic. However, I sometimes feel that books geared towards women in the workplace focus too much on being a leader. Does career success only mean leading people? I’m not sure. I’d like to see more advice given to career women that doesn’t always end with being a great leader: there are so many other ways to succeed and be satisfied in work without being the head of a department.
Should you read it?
Definitely. It’s totally relevant if you’re a career-minded female, but even if you’re not, it can give a great insight into some of the psychology and biases around powerful women, which you may be able to apply to other areas of your life. For this reason too, it is an interesting and enlightening read for any men out there too who are looking to empathise more with their female colleagues.