Business Books in-Brief is a new occasional series by the Flagship team, to bring you a snapshot of some of the business and management books we are reading this month.
Sophy Norris read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, below are her top-line thoughts.
Lean In, written in 2013, is perhaps one of the most famous books to empower and inspire women looking to take senior roles at the boardroom table, inviting them to “lean in” – and not shy away – from the opportunities presented to them. In many ways it is unashamedly elitist in its outlook. Sheryl is clearly brilliant academically and in the workplace, and has taken key boardroom roles at some of the biggest companies on the planet. There are, however, truths for all women (and in fact all men) seeking a more gender-equal workplace. Having read this at a time when the gender pay gap continues to dominate news headlines, and in the wake of the #metoo movement, Lean In feels pioneering (written some five years ahead of the publicity maelstrom) in its call for systemic and societal change to see gender balance across workforces across the world.
There is much to inspire (and some to frustrate – we are not all blessed with Sheryl’s fierce intelligence, although she was by no means born with a silver spoon in her mouth) across the relatively short read. The book is filled with personal anecdotes, easily accessible despite Sheryl’s position and fame.
For me, as a mother of two girls however, her chapters and comments on balancing work and motherhood, her split loyalty – and ensuing guilt – between her children and her job, and the eventual rules she put in place to make both work for her were immensely powerful. Don’t retreat, she tells us, re-draw the battle lines (and trust me there are several fronts to address when you are a working mum, and Sheryl addresses them head on).
In the age of #metoo Lean In should be a must read for everyone in the workplace, certainly not just women looking to climb the corporate ladder. Psychologically, emotionally even academically there is much to divide men and women, but those divides in turn make for a stronger and more complete corporate team and should be celebrated and not hidden.
However, the single biggest lesson I took from the book, the one that stays with me as I fuss over deadlines, worry about keeping clients and colleagues motivated, and about my own next challenges at home and at work is her mantra “Done is better than perfect” – and in a world where done is almost never the end point, but something to transform – I could not agree more.
I thoroughly recommend the book.