Lean In

Author: Sheryl Sandberg

Genre: Management, Feminism, Autobiography

Sherly Sandberg, currently the COO of Facebook, is probably one of the most successful professionals in Corporate America. Harvard educated, with stints in Mckinsey, World Bank, US Treasury, Google and Facebook, she is now worth about US$1.8billion! Stratospheric for a paid corporate executive who was not an entrepreneur.

Sherly delivered a TED talk on why so few women occupied leadership positions in corporate America, offering her advice. This has been viewed more than 10mn times as of now and inspired her to write this book. The book primarily talks of what women can do to have a great career along with a fulfilling personal life.  The sad reality is that less than 4% of Fortune 500 or FTSE 250 companies are run by women. I recall even when I was in P&G, this was a hot topic: at entry level, P&G hired roughly half women and half men. Both equally smart and accomplished, from similar bschools. And yet, at the top level, the percentage dwindled significantly. Even in my current role as CEO of a business, I struggle to ensure equal number of women in my direct leadership team. We all have good intentions, but sadly at the top level, there are just so few female candidates available.  Unfortunately, societal biases remain. “Our stereotype of men holds that they are providers, decisive, and driven. Our stereotype of women holds that they are care givers, sensitive, and communal”.

But beyond a manifesto to bring more women in leadership roles, this is a book on simply being a great leader. We all start with high determination and ambition but then slowly, many of us, equally competent, start plateauing out. Little nuances, blind spots or ‘bad habits’ hold us back. There are so many lessons in this book that I could personally relate to and wish I had learnt earlier in my career. I will recount the top 5 challenges of aspiring managers.