Book Club: Discussing Lean In – Intro and Chapter 1

August 16, 2016

Introduction & Chapter One

Welcome to our first official Book Club post. This past year we’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. So naturally when we were picking our next book club read, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead was the obvious choice. Last week we asked everyone to read the introduction and chapter one, if you couldn’t help yourself and ended up reading ahead, that’s okay too (we might have!).

Below you’ll find a few initial thoughts and takeaways we had after the first 25 pages in Lean In. Read them over and share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Introduction: Internalizing the Revolution

Initial Thoughts

Curt Hammond: It is apparent from the introduction that this book is going to push and challenge myself as a male leader and our culture at Pearl Street. Picking this book was an intentional stretch to check in that we are living out our values and making sure that our culture is one that celebrates and recognizes the strengths of all genders. I am really hoping we can make this an ‘and’ conversation for how we build our team and interact with our clients and community.

Kelsey Walker: A strong introduction that sets the style and tone of the book. We’re going to hear personal and public anecdotes, theories will be backed up by studies and statistics and the writing style is humorous, informative and encourages the reader to think about their own experiences.

Key Takeaways

KW: We need more women in leadership roles, but only if they want it. Some women want “it all” both the career and the family, and some just want one. Whatever combination they choose, it is their choice to make.

CH: The reminder that equity is not the same as equality.

Chapter 1: The Leadership Ambition Gap: What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

Initial Thoughts

CH: Mentorship is SO important to strong individuals and strong cultures. We need to celebrate everyone’s individual leadership journey.  And those of us with privilege need to remind our peers of the social and economic benefits of making sure we break down the barriers that prevent communities, governments and businesses from getting the best from all their team members.

KW: One thing I’m loving about this book is that the blame, for lack of a better word, isn’t solely placed on society as an institution. Sandberg notes that our own internal struggles are holding women back. On pg. 24 she explains that “fear is at the root of so many of the barriers that women face. Fear of not being liked. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of drawing negative attention. Fear of overreaching. Fear of being judged. Fear of failure…” We need to work at overcoming both the barriers of society and our own internal barriers as well.

Key Takeaways

CH: As a father, husband, uncle, cousin, friend, community leader and employer I have an important role to play in empowering everyone around me. And I need to pay special attention to the unique support that the women in my life need.

KW: The thing that struck me the most in this chapter was the sheer simplicity of Sandberg’s final words: “So, please ask yourself, what would you do if you weren’t afraid? And, then, go do it.”

Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts! Make sure to comment below and feel free to get the conversation going on twitter using the hashtag #PSBookclub. 

Mark your calendars for  next chat on Tuesday, September 20th and we’ll discuss chapters 2 and 3.

Happy reading!



One Comment

  • John Borthwick says:

    I enjoyed Sandberg’s take on things and the book gave me much food for thought. I’m sure it will spark many interesting chats with my wife, Kate as I’ve encouraged her to read the book as well. I think my running commentary on what I was reading struck a cord with her. (I’m sorry, I did read ahead… The whole book actually!)

    Two takeaways for me:
    1. The quote from Judith Rodin – “My generation fought so hard to give all of you choices. We believe in choices. But choosing to leave the workforce was not the choice we thought so many of you would make.” I think this is common in the generational debate I often hear in my circles. We hear it when older persons talk about their doctors who don’t work full time… Or comments made about sons or grandsons who have chosen to be stay at home dads. The older generations seems confused by the younger one. People talk about this generation being ‘role confused’ – but I’d suggest that the older generation is confused by the younger. Partnership, equality, equity looks very different in the generation. If it is about choices then everyone should have the option to choose what works best for them without judgement (they will do enough of that internally). However, to pull another point that Sandberg references – we must celebrate or appreciate at least that we all stand on the shoulders of the previous generation and their hard work in making today’s reality possible as confusing as it is at times.
    And briefly on 2. Yes, Kelsey… Fear. Lots of my reading and podcast listening these days talks about that very thing… The fears that are holding us all from reaching out to be the people our deepest desire is calling us to be.
    Go do it indeed.
    Thanks for this forum!
    All the best,

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