Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Review: Lean In

Lean in

Success is making the best choices we can and accepting them
-         - Sheryl Sandberg

A new trend common these days is bracketing behaviour as feminist and non-feminist. One cannot speak of gender equality without falling into either of these classifications. And when a book comes out that directly attacks the sensitive area of “women empowerment” it is bound to be branded sexist/feminist and put into a shelf screaming out the same. After Sheryl Sandberg, the current COO of Facebook gave out a stately TED talk that has been viewed more than 2 million times, she set out to write a book on the same lines.

In a world that has less than 4% of women in the leadership positions of fortune 500 companies, Sheryl posits that we need more women at the top to ensure the empowerment of women and for this purpose she has chalked out various guidelines and suggestions for both men and women. I believe it cannot be called a manifesto per se, but can serve as a wonderful insight into the thought process of a successful woman.

Sheryl has been openly bashed for being brave and calling out for measures to bridge the gender inequality. Whenever a successful (or in most cases slightly successful) man comes up with a self-help book he is much lauded for his willingness to help the world. When a successful woman genuinely tries to pull other women ahead with her, what is the need to term her efforts as sexist and pretentious? Although the book may not be considered a literary brilliance, I stand by Sheryl’s philosophy mentioned in the book of getting more women at the top.

Now reflecting on the contents of the book, I would say be your own judge and take only those suggestions that are apt for your socio-economic conditions. Sheryl quotes brilliant anecdotes and often comes across as a warm and vulnerable person. Reading the book is thrilling for one it has life snippets of famous and powerful people and second it convincingly drives home the fact that every other person in the world has familial and careerist problems. Sheryl often supports her claims through statistics, research studies and personal experience.

Sheryl tells the readers how she and many other top notch working women handle family and work. I loved it when she made a point how work-life balance is itself a funny concept and how one cannot separate work from life. If you treat your work as a separate entity apart from your life then probably you are not working in a job you love. Sheryl assumes a type of problem-solving approach most leaders use - that of sharing her experience during problematic times. This makes the book easily readable and to attract the connectivity with the reader.

One thing that could be better in the book is the sloppy transition to universal sentiments. Sheryl usually talks about a certain approach throughout a chapter and then suddenly at the end of the chapter she declares that she believes in the age-old wisdom and the alternate approach is also equally right. This incoherent transition has rendered the ending of many chapters unimpressive.

I recommend this book to those who have the habit of catching up with the latest sensations of the literary world and to those who love the typical Harvard alums way of writing a persuasive book (FYI: Sheryl is a Harvard alumna). This book having less than 200 pages is a breezy read and has the contribution and time of many talented persons as is evident from the acknowledgement section. Career loving parents (read working moms in popular lingo) should definitely try this out. 

No comments:

Post a Comment