Lessons & Struggles in Leadership

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Lessons in Leadership: Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO

I don’t remember why I followed the link to the NY Times article on Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg (probably something about the $1.6 billion woman), but I did and read an interesting article on this diminutive woman making a place for herself and other women at the social media giant. Read it here. The article intrigued me enough to Youtube her Barnard College commencement address referenced in the article. (I guess you picked up that it’s the video linked above).

I encourage all young women in business and/or leadership to watch the video (a little less than 20 minutes) and read the article. Here are a few things that have stuck with me:

1. Here’s a woman who wants to open doors and help other women. How sadly rare this can be and how very important. Despite Beyonce’s booming 2011 anthem that girls run the world the opposite is sadly true. Men still hold the overwhelming majority of seats at the tables of politics, business, and finance, and until women have more equal representation I’m afraid we’ll keep fighting the same battles of the past 50 years. When a woman does break through and grabs a seat at the table it is vital that she spread out her things and make room for more women to follow. It’s an honor to be the first but a tragedy to be the only.

2. She urges the young Barnard women to keep their options open and not make sacrifices & decisions that will take them out of the race before they’re even in it. Sometimes I think it’s good for us to be reminded that ambition is a good thing.

3. She remarks on some unfair criticism she received in the early days and how she dealt with it. It’s tough to get any sort of criticism but especially when it’s unwarranted or unnecessarily harsh because of one’s gender or race. The lesson is to follow your heart, stay the course, and do what you know is right. Not easy lessons but important ones.

4. She reminds women to own their own success and to not underestimate their worth. None of us does it alone, but you don’t have to give the whole farm away when acknowledging those who have helped you along the way. In short, when you receive an “Atta girl” or “nice job” instead of immediately saying “well it wasn’t all me,” remember thank you is a complete sentence.

I encourage you to take a look at the video–it’s ok to skip to the middle juicy parts. What are the key points that stick out to you?


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