The future starts at an early age

The Confidence Gap book cover; author Russ Harris

I recently finished reading the book, The Confidence Gap, by Russ Harris, again.  Its advice needs to be shared with all women, girls and parents.

Rule 1: The actions of confidence come first; the feelings of confidence come later.

In 2013, we’re trying to figure out how to make a dent in the problem of the low numbers of women in corporate senior leadership positions. One theory of how to fix the problem is to increase the level of confidence in women, and especially in young girls.  The theory is that the more confidence we have, the more likely we are to compete, take necessary risks, and build skills and careers that are prone to advancement.

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Get the book or miss the boat!

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As I bring my series on The Sandberg Saga to a close, Part 5 recaps what I believe caused the ‘Lean In’ firestorm to ignite, and it gives my reasons for why you MUST read this book.

Okay, if you don’t want to read the book, then at least watch the 2010 TEDTalk: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders.  This is where Sandberg seems to have started this journey.

In my estimation, we jumped all over Sheryl Sandberg and her new book because she doesn’t fit the typical masculine definition of leadership.  I believe much of the trouble was about her and not about her book.  Here’s a smart and talented woman who went to the right school, met the right people, married the right guy (second time), and wrote a book to help women be successful in their careers.  Do we think she has the right to give us advice?  Some people do, and some people don’t.  And those who didn’t agree with her advice, or simply felt she didn’t have the right to give it, they stated their case loud and clear.  Just as Sandberg predicted they would.Maybe some people don’t like the messenger, but here’s why she has a message that is not to be ignored.

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Do as I say, not as I do?

Lean-In-Page-8Part 4 in the Sandberg Saga comes from the perspective of a person I met the day I bought my copy of the book.  As I continue to share my thoughts on why Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In caused such an uproar in the media and the leadership community, this piece is based on that idea that we don’t like it when people come from a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude.  At least one woman I met feels that this is an undercurrent in Sandberg’s book.

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Did Sandberg Lean in or Luck out?

Photo credit: Photographer: Louis Lanzano/Bloomberg

Photo credit: Photographer: Louis Lanzano/Bloomberg

PART 3 in the Sandberg Saga explores the backlash witnessed toward Sheryl Sandberg and her new book LEAN IN, from the view that Sheryl didn’t lean in to her career as much as she lucked out.

Sandberg seems to have come from a privileged background.  This assessment is subjective of course, but she herself claims to realize that she has “vast resources” at her disposal.  By simply admitting that one thing, she puts herself outside of the realm where the average woman can relate to her.  I know I’m pretty average, and I certainly can’t relate to “vast” resources.

If we can’t relate to her as a person, how are we supposed to believe that she can relate to us?  And if we don’t think she can relate to us, how can we relate to her message?  And how many people take that a step further and look for reasons to justify why Sandberg was successful and they are not.  After all, aren’t we two totally different people?  And as I’ve said before, I feel like she and I come from two different planets.

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Has Sandberg taken us back in time?

Businesswoman.Part 2 of the Sandberg Saga focuses on Sheryl Sandberg putting the blame back on women as a reason for the backlash both she and her book have received.

It seems that we have tried for many years to shift the gender issue from one of ‘fixing the women’ to one of ‘fixing the company’ and Sheryl has taken a stand of re-focusing on the individual.  It feels to me like we’ve gone back in time, and I suspect many others share my view.

When I was selecting a topic for my major research paper for a Masters degree in Leadership, I phoned the people at  Catalyst Inc.  Catalyst is a research-driven organization with a mission to expand opportunities for women and business.  I spoke to one of their senior researchers and asked where they were focusing their research and asked for some advice on selecting my topic.  That day I was told that the ‘fix-the-women’ side of the gender coin had received plenty of research, and it was time to focus on the ‘fix-the-company’ side.  That simple comment helped me decide to focus my research on what companies need to do to get more women in the leadership pipeline. (Click here to access my research paper)

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