Cathy Allen's Reviews > Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
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I have rarely been this happy to have read a book - or this grateful to an author - as I am after savoring every page of Lean In. I feel like I have just had the opportunity to sit with a world-class leader and pick her brain about all the stuff I care most about. And what a brain! The subject is timely and super-important. The writing is friendly and clear. The tone is welcoming and gracious. Sheryl Sandberg has given all of us a tremendous gift, which I, for one, plan to pay forward.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever had from someone in a position to be a mentor to me professionally was that I should not compare myself to others. We can never truly know what is in other people's hearts. We are often oblivious to their failures, peeves, insecurities. So to compare how we feel inside to how someone else presents themselves on the outside is a losing game.

Still, it feels really, really good to find out that Sheryl Sandberg's insides are a lot like mine. Important stuff sometimes doesn't occur to her. She shrinks on occasion then wishes she hadn't. She lets herself be influenced by others... men, women, younger, older, more senior, less senior. She gets out of balance and out of focus. She has struggled to find her voice and then felt hurt by criticism when she uses it.

And, oh boy has there been criticism. As far as I can tell, much of it seems to be coming from people who haven't actually read the book. Just yesterday I heard a woman on TV say something about Sheryl Sandberg out there advising us all to be more like men. What? What page was that on? There was nothing like that in the book I just read. This was Sheryl Sandberg offering heart-felt and well-thought out advice to other professional women about not limiting ourselves. She wants us to support each other and champion each other and to let others do the same for us.

Count me in Sheryl! I've already joined the Lean In group on LinkedIn and will soon be working to pull together a Lean In group here locally. (Interested readers should call me.) This is exactly the kind of new women's movement we have been needing, but maybe we weren't ready for. Nothing but good can come from unleashing the power lurking deep in each of us. Let's get started!

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Reading Progress

March 16, 2013 – Shelved
March 29, 2013 – Started Reading
April 5, 2013 – Finished Reading
April 7, 2013 – Shelved as: business-success
April 7, 2013 – Shelved as: great-leaders
April 7, 2013 – Shelved as: organizational-life
April 7, 2013 – Shelved as: personal-development
January 11, 2016 – Shelved as: whatiscathyreading-com

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Lowell AfdahlRice As would come to no surprsie to you, the critique that I read was on the lines of Sandberg is basically calling for women to be "good little capitalists". You can guess how I might take that;-) Appreciate your thoughts on how she is calling for human transformation, not just making more women part of the capitalist machine.


Cathy Allen Hi Lowell - Well, there is no question that Sheryl Sandberg is one of capitalism's few big winners, and she certainly isn't calling on women to overthrow the existing order. In fact, the rightness and wrongness of structural systems isn't really her subject. She acknowledges gender discrimination, and describes some of her own experiences with it, but her interest there is as context for the internal work she is hoping to spark. (Choosing to lead is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for getting to lead.) Women and men who work in the business sector will probably become better capitalists if they choose to follow her lead. But home care providers, teachers, nonprofit directors, environmental advocates, and social workers will benefit as well. And for that I am very grateful.


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