Over the long weekend, I read Lee Child’s ‘Personal’. Immediately after that, I got reading ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.’
While the former was personal to Jack Reacher, the latter feels personal to me.
The author, Sheryl Sandberg, is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. In the book, Sandberg explores reasons due to which women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled and offers some solutions.
As explained in the book, research shows that success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. That is, when a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women but when a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.
(Hold the thought: success vs. likeability) Success, of course, may mean many things to many people but for the purposes of this article, let’s stick with careers and ambitions. I have to admit that I feel successful; it would almost be ungrateful not to acknowledge that. But did that mean I was less liked? If that was true, I couldn’t believe how oblivious I had been never to have noticed it?
The thought lingered and as I was chatting to a few friends, and one of them said, ‘I’m surprised you’re being so sensitive, I thought you were strong.'(Again, hold the thought: strong vs sensitive)
Reading on, at one point Sandberg observes that as we learn to speak appropriately, we lose something in authenticity. (And again, hold the thought: authenticity vs appropriateness)
The book is brilliant and I would whole heartedly recommend it to both men and women. But I have to admit, whether you call me greedy or versatile, I don’t want to have to choose. I wish, instead, to change what the analysis says.
I want to be liked in my pursuit for success much as I like those who pursue other aspirations. Not a positive correlation, not a negative correlation – I wish for no correlation. I also wish for both genders to be strong yet sensitive, authentic yet appropriate. In doing so, there will be mistakes; occasions when we feel that we could have been more sensitive, and times when we should have been stronger. Like spices to food, each attribute has its place.
So as I ‘Lean In’, I seek a little more; a world where men and women, don’t have to be either / or.