May 16, 2013

Are You Leaning In?

It’s a simple question. How could the world be different for women? And Sheryl Sandberg is asking it. As the chief operating officer of Facebook and one of Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, Sheryl wrote Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. She speaks of the insecurities that keep women glued to their chairs in the boardroom and the ways we doubt ourselves or underestimate our talents.

We hesitate to ask for that long-awaited promotion, we sit and wait and miss the opportunities that are within our reach because we feel like frauds: unqualified, insecure, not enough. Sheryl’s passion to encourage women to “sit at the table,” take the risk and pursue goals with passion and confidence is one that resonates in my soul as a coach and leader.

Sheryl says: “For women, feeling like a fraud is a symptom of a greater problem. We consistently underestimate ourselves. Multiple studies in multiple industries show that women often judge their own performance as worse than it actually is…”

If this is true, it means we are holding ourselves back from greatness unintentionally; we don’t even know that we’re doing it! You may notice how hard it is for your female friends to accept compliments. They shy away from praise, joke about it or say something self-deprecating. The truth is: we are missing out! And it’s time we started doing something about it. Here are three ways we can begin the process of seeking recognition for our talents and validity as women with something to offer!

  1. Give yourself permission. Trust who you are, what you know, and go with it.

  2. Don’t be afraid to want something more. Dream big! 

  3. Take the blinders off. Let your talent take you somewhere and move the barriers along the way.

Here’s the truth: when we don’t show up to the table we are robbing others of the good insight we have to offer. In my coaching relationships, I spend a lot of time encouraging and affirming women with amazing leadership qualities who have trouble seeing it. There’s nothing more rewarding or powerful than a woman who catches the vision and takes initiative with her talents and dreams!

 As Sheryl says: “I still face situations that I fear are beyond my capabilities. I still have days when I feel like a fraud. And I still sometimes find myself spoken over and discounted while men sitting next to me are not. But now I know how to take a deep breath and keep my hand up. Now I know how to sit at the table.”

It is important for every woman to learn what it means to “lean in” as Sheryl suggests. Stop placing limitations on yourself; it’s time to throw them off. Have you read Lean In and what are some of the light bulb moments you’ve experienced along the way? Leave a comment and share your thoughts on how this idea has empowered and inspired you!  

To your excellence,

Dianna Salciccioli