Event recap: Review of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, hosted by Kimberly Farrell

written by Donna Lock, Life Sciences Foundation

On July 24, Kimberly A. Farrell, CEO of Unlimited Performance Training, Inc., facilitated an interactive discussion of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. The event was hosted and sponsored by Theravance.

Kimberly emphasized Lean In is not a “how to” book. Readers must evaluate their own situation and decide what works for them. Here are some highlights and takeaways on the discussion: 

  • Find a mentor and a sponsor: Successful people want to mentor other successful people since a mentor’s reputation is on the line. If you seek a senior person as a mentor, be strategic in your approach. Do not simply ask him or her to be your mentor. Instead, take on stretch assignments, find something in common (e.g. HBA), communicate what you admire about the person and follow up things of interest or updates. If help is offered, such as reviewing presentation slides, accept it. A sponsor is different than a mentor. A sponsor will advocate and speak on your behalf.
  • Speak up: Ask for stretch assignments, give and receive feedback, ask for a raise and request resources needed to be successful.
  • Adopt powerful behaviors: Set boundaries between work and home, expect and do not settle for anything less than 50/50 with a partner and support the success of other women. Getting to 50/50 by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober is a a good resource for this. Banish blaming words:  Instead of saying “If only…”, “I wish ….”  set boundaries with such words as “I choose …,”, “I can … “, “I commit…”, “I agree…”
  • Avoid disconnecting completely from the workforce: Women who leave the workforce to raise a family may later face challenges re-entering the workforce. In addition, studies show women who work are more satisfied.
  • Demonstrate a position of power in meetings: Avoid nodding in agreement when others speak. Instead, sit straight up, both feet planted on the floor and lean back. Also, make sure to adjust your gaze to different people in the room. When making your first point, look at the first person, then a different person when making your second point and so on.
  • Delegate: Think about what you can outsource or delegate. The more senior you become, the more you can delegate.
  • Make a plan: Think about a development plan to get where you want to be.

Questions to consider:

  1. Can women have it all? Many participants felt women could have it all, but everyone's 'all' is different. This represents how one feels and not how others perceive you.
  2. Is it okay for women to show emotion at work? For Sheryl Sandberg it brought her closer to others but in most workplaces crying is viewed as a weakness. Let HBA know what you think.

Email 1-2 sentences on your take of the ‘Lean In’ discussion.  

Lean In