Leaning in has become a popular phrase in business circles these days. According to Sheryl Sandberg, author of the book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” women have an obligation to push themselves harder and further in order to begin placing themselves in equivalent positions of power alongside men. Sandberg offers multiple tips on both the personal and professional level to help women accomplish this including the four below.
Sandberg encourages women to fantasize about their career possibilities. But career plans shouldn’t stop with fantasy. Women need to have an 18-month plan of shorter-term goals and the steps needed to accomplish those goals. They need to consider what they are not yet good at in the workplace and work to fill those deficiencies. Fear may be a cover for avoidance of something one simply doesn’t know how to do.
One way in which women’s actions in the workplace differ from that of men is that women do not tend to push themselves in the same way that men do. Men have a tendency to jump at opportunities without worrying that they lack the experience or ability to fulfill the role. On the other hand, women tend to back down with the explanation that they aren’t trained for a certain role or they didn’t study it in school. Women can create a cycle of self-confidence by stepping into positions they may feel unready for and demonstrating to themselves that they have the ability to take on new challenges. This in turn will allow them to feel confident about the next opportunities that come along.
Networking is important. However, it’s also important to connect with other women specifically. Depending on where these women are in their careers, they may act as mentors, or one may find oneself acting as a role model to women who are younger or lower on the career ladder. While some women may feel that starting or attending such a group is simply another obligation, doing so will pay dividends not just for others in the group but for oneself.
Sandberg mentions a time she had a performance review with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after starting at the company. She mentioned at the review that she wanted everyone to like her. His advice was that when you want to change something you can’t please everyone. She took this advice and suggests to her readers that you should not sacrifice being liked for being successful.
According to business expert Kevin Devoto, one of the most important takeaways from Sandberg’s book and indeed her entire philosophy is that it’s time for women to put themselves forward as leaders not only for themselves but for the sake of the women who come after them. By taking these steps and “leaning in,” women can ensure that the generations that come after them enjoy equal footing with men.
Annette Hazard is a freelance blogger that has written about businesses in the past. She is also an avid cyclist and mother of one.
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