In response to HBR’s article on Lean In

If you follow me on Twitter or on LinkedIn, then it’s not a surprised I’m a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg and Lean In.  I came across this article from Harvard Business Review, It’s Not Women Who Should Lean In; It’s Men Who Should Step Back, which I highly disagree with.

Here’s a comment I left for the author:

As a woman in the early stages of my career, I very much disagree with this article and James’ analysis of Lean In.  The book isn’t telling us to copy men but rather guide women to overcome hesitation.  I’ve seen young women new to the workforce who are often time hesitant to speak up at a meeting for the fear of being wrong or going against the grain compared to young men in the workplace.  I, myself have experienced this, and it took a couple of years before I had the confidence to “lean-in” and speak up.  What Sandberg’s book does do is help guide women to gain confidence and a voice earlier on.  She’s bringing to the forefront what society is dictating and how to overcome societal and environmental norms that taught young women for the first 18 years of our lives to be quiet, play nice, and be agreeable.

And to address your question on “why is it the women who should be copying the men? Why can’t it be the
men who could be well served by taking a page out of an entirely different book: that of the very women Lean In is advising to change?”

As I mentioned previously, Lean In isn’t suggesting that women copy men.  But let’s say for argument sake that it was.  The book was written to guide women readers in their development and to provide insight for male readers into the challenges women face in the workplace.  And as much as I would be surprised and delighted if men stepped back, it’s much easier for me to take control of my actions then convince a whole gender to “lean back”.

What do you think? Is he right?  Am I way off the ball with my interpretation of the book?

Out with networks, in with communities

There are so many articles and tips on how to network. From how to effectively network to how to get over network-phobia to winning at networking, the internet is full of good tricks of mastering the art.  But I personally find networking to be rather impersonal – more so transactional if you will.  Networking is very much what you can do for me and what I can do for you.  It is such an old school mentality of building connections.

The world has become increasingly connected and information and stories are shared instantaneous.  With the rise of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Path, it’s time to revisit how we network and shift it to building a community.  Focus on creating authentic connections through knowledge sharing, idea transfer, and story-telling.  People are genuinely more intrigued and willing to maintain a long-term connection with you if the initial touch point is authentic.  That you want to learn something from them, not gain something that would benefit you or help them with a future string attached.  Let’s focus less on networking and more on building an authentic community.