General, Leadership

How are you “leaning in” ?

Recently, I’ve come across the phrase ‘lean in’ quite often and I love it !  The words ‘lean in’ are often associated with the phrase ‘lean into the wind’ meaning to walk (or lean) into the wind in order to move forward.  This concept has been brilliantly applied by some authors to discuss how we […]

Carol Yang

Recently, I’ve come across the phrase ‘lean in’ quite often and I love it !  The words ‘lean in’ are often associated with the phrase ‘lean into the wind’ meaning to walk (or lean) into the wind in order to move forward.  This concept has been brilliantly applied by some authors to discuss how we can face head on and ‘lean into’ obstacles that are holding us back to grow both professionally and personally.

In a recent TEDWomen interview with Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook; she discusses her new book “Lean In : Women, Work and the Will to Lead” which is about leadership, self confidence and equality.  A great book and it’s definitely on my reading list.  You can watch the TEDWomen interview with Sheryl Sandberg here.

In her interview, Sheryl covers a few key points on how we can ‘lean in’ –

1.  Ask yourself “What would you do if you weren’t afraid ?”

Don’t let your fears hold you back.  Have you passed on an opportunity – whether it’s a promotion at work, the possibility of starting your own business; or your dream of being an artist – because you were afraid of failure or being judged ?  Or maybe you don’t believe you can juggle it all.  I love the example Sheryl shared of a woman who handed her husband the grocery list the day after she accepted a big promotion at work !

2. Find Your Voice

Raise your hand and don’t stay on the sidelines.  It’s been seen time and again that in general, women are more hesitant to raise their hand and participate in discussions….or ask for what they want.  Sheryl shares an example of a woman who after seeing the TED Talk, was inspired to take action by fighting to have better teachers at her neighbourhood school.  Whatever your passion at work or in life, find your voice and a way to make a difference in your corner of the world.

3. Don’t allow stereotypes to undermine your self confidence and hold you back

Sheryl talks about how stereotypes are holding women back from leadership positions all over the world.  And regardless of culture, one global stereotype is how assertive women are labeled as ‘bossy’.  Ah yes.  This topic has been hotly debated of late here in Australia.  The first step towards addressing this is acknowledging that it does happen, then taking actions to address it.  She shares a wonderful example of how John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, after reading her book; called together his management team and acknowledged how they have in the past labeled all their senior women executives as ‘too aggressive’ and his commitment to never do it again.

You might be also interested in her Dec 2010 TEDWomen talk that she references in her interview.  With over 4 million views, it’s a ‘must see’.

As always in life, the key is to take action.

So the question is …..  what can each of us do today to ‘lean in’ to harness the leadership potential we all have in ourselves ?

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