Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lean In Discussion

I’m a few chapters into Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg, and I find a few things that strike a chord or are highly relatable.

The fraud syndrome, which is feeling like an impostor, and expecting at any time someone might “find me out”.  Under celebrating successes, having the impression that they came from luck or some outside help.  I can relate to that.  And, as the book points out, silly and self-inflicted.

Needing to balance between stereotyped expectations of feminine traits like community with being dubbed the bitch.  I don’t experience it as dissonant as she describes it.  For example, I am a communal person by nature (not speaking for all women) and part of my expertise is helping teams be awesome. “Nurturing” individuals through empowerment.  I get results from that.

Advice on “we” vs “I.”  I tend to use “we” vs “I” when talking about successes; I am acutely aware and appreciative of  the influences along the way that made up what it is that I accomplished.  It’s a philosophical discussion regarding we are all one.  There’s appropriate uses of I and we, and I could argue that men overuse “I” and would do well to reflect their connections in their choice of language.  If you cut down the tree, sawed it up, hauled it, split it, and stacked it in a pile, “I” is appropriate.  Rarely is that solely a one person job.  “I seeded the idea,” “I created this portion,” “I was influenced by,” “I brought it to fruition,”  sure.

The subject on having to come across as nice as a female leader.  Sure, that exists.  But to me, is not an attempt on making everyone happy, it’s treating people with unfaltering respect and authenticity under any condition, especially the hard conditions.  “Nice” in my mind, is trusting that someone will always treat me respectfully regardless of the hard decisions that  occur.  Having to fire someone is an example of this.  The actions leading up to it, and the conversation of termination combined…respect.  It is not in my best interest to judge a person of their self-worth.  Respect includes being aware of what’s knowable about a person. What I know is how they behave in the environment they are employed into; that is a tiny sliver of insight into a vast human being.  I think because respect can be a very difficult thing to act on in every situation, niceness is sometimes a fluffy word describing under-skilled respect, both genders.  I might argue that men are given the benefit of the doubt when they act like an ass more so than women.

The book does tend to beat a topic to death.  If I weren’t listening to audio, I would probably skim some sections having “gotten it” before she’s done talking about it.  In some instances she talks about characteristics as  good vs bad, whether she means to, and occasionally I think it should be phrased as “this is what women bring to the table, and what makes gender diversity matter”.

I also find, being a mom of a daughter, that I challenge myself not to perpetuate as much of the negative gender biases as possible.  It is deeply ingrained, I agree with the author completely!  Lillian’s generation is our opportunity to learn to embrace our specialties and overcome external and internal barriers of female leadership.

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