The conversation in the past few months has been loud… but maybe not so clear. Articles like… Atlantic Magazine’s, “Can Women Have It All?“ and The Wall Street Journal’s, “The Tyranny of the Queen Bee”, seem like the opening act for the launch of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In“ this week. The message is lost on those complaining and whining and even Sandberg’s encouragement is perceived as a criticism of women… the Atlantic Magazine headline reads… “Sheryl Sandberg Gives American Women A Performance Review.” Is the media fueling this fire? Or are they clearing the air? In small type the subhead of the article… “Many of the people trashing this book weren’t the ones it was written for.”
In addition to the external barriers erected by society, women are hindered by barriers within themselves. We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in. We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives… messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve…. Compared to our male colleagues, fewer of us aspire to senior positions.
This is true… I see it everyday in my practice. Smart, accomplished women not owning how incredible they are. I don’t mean in a bragging way… but in a matter of FACT way. If I were to tell you, “I won the business breakthrough book of the year,” is that bragging or simply stating a fact?
Complaining and whining may force small steps… but stepping up to the plate, doing great work, being a colleague everyone can count on and giving every deserving soul a hand up… now that will produce giant leaps.
Own your accomplishments and your expertise. Stand up and lead… lead in your way. I’m with Sandberg, when enough of us are in powerful positions there will be no need for this conversation. In my lifetime… that is MY hope!