As part of our leadership development, my Vistage groups frequently select a book to read as a group. Recently, my Vistage Inside group chose the book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandburg.
On the day we discussed this book in my group, the first person to speak was a man. His comment was “This is not a gender issue. This book resonated for me and the challenges I have in my career”.
This book has garnered both praise and criticism and certainly puts to rest the question of whether a book can spark a debate.
The debate centers around two issues. First, given Sheryl’s wealth and position, is she truly able to advise young women? And, is she placing too much of the onus on women who are already struggling to fulfill impossible demands, and too little on government and employers to provide better child care, more flexible jobs and other concrete gains.
Having begun my career in the 1970’s, for me the book initially was a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same. While certainly gender neutrality has occurred in many jobs, the executive suite is one where the numbers say otherwise.
That said, I wonder, is the question really about gender neutrality or is it about the challenges that women and men face as they navigate the path to career advancement?
I wonder if the real questions that Sheryl is suggesting we, women and men, ask are:
- What is the path to a “seat at the table”?
- What risks must I take?
- What personal choices must I make to achieve career success (i.e. choice of mate, where I live, who my friends are)?
And, finally the most key question,
- What must I give up, to get what I want?
For more on this topic, see previous post, Laws of Success: Perfection of The Life or Perfection of The Work