Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

by Sheryl Sandberg
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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

The #1 international best seller

In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg reignited the conversation around women in the workplace.

Sandberg is chief operating officer of Facebook and coauthor of Option B with Adam Grant. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TED talk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which has been viewed more than six million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

Lean In continues that conversation, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can. Sandberg provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career. She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment, and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women both in the workplace and at home.

Written with humor and wisdom, Lean In is a revelatory, inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth that will empower women around the world to achieve their full potential. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385349949
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/11/2013
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 457
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

SHERYL SANDBERG is chief operating officer at Facebook, overseeing the firm's business operations. Prior to Facebook, Sheryl was vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, chief of staff for the United States Treasury Department under President Clinton, a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, and an economist with the World Bank.
Sheryl received a BA summa cum laude from Harvard University and an MBA with highest distinction from Harvard Business School.
Sheryl is the co-author of Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy with Wharton professor and bestselling author Adam Grant. She is also the author of the bestsellers Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and Lean In for Graduates. She is the founder of the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to build a more equal and resilient world through two key initiatives, LeanIn.Org and OptionB.Org. Sheryl serves on the boards of Facebook, the Walt Disney Company, Women for Women International, ONE, and SurveyMonkey.

What People are Saying About This

Jeff Immelt

Sheryl is a unique business leader because of her versatility and breadth. She has the two traits that are common in every successful leader I have known: curiosity and determination. Sheryl brings all of her insight to Lean In, an important new book that companies can use to get the most out of their talent. With her ideas and actions, Sheryl will help to define leadership in the years to come.—Jeff Immelt, CEO, General Electric

Condoleezza Rice

Sheryl provides practical suggestions for managing and overcoming the challenges that arise on the 'jungle gym' of career advancement. I nodded my head in agreement and laughed out loud as I read these pages. Lean In is a superb, witty, candid, and meaningful read for women (and men) of all generations.
—Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state

Wendy Kopp

To tackle society's most pressing problems we need to unleash the leadership of both women and men. Lean In shows us the path and is an absolutely invaluable resource for the next generation of leaders and those who support them.—Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO, Teach for America

Chelsea Clinton

Lean In poses a set of ambitious challenges to women: to create the lives we want, to be leaders in our work, to be partners in our homes, and to be champions of other women. Sheryl provides pragmatic advice on how women in the twenty-first century can meet these challenges. I hope women—and men—of my generation will read this book to help us build the lives we want to lead and the world we want to live in.—Chelsea Clinton

Sir Richard Branson

If you loved Sheryl Sandberg's incredible TEDTalk on why we have too few women leaders, or simply believe as I do that we need equality in the boardroom, then this book is for you. As Facebook's COO, Sheryl Sandberg has firsthand experience of why having more women in leadership roles is good for business as well as society. Lean In is essential reading for anyone interested in righting the injustice of this inequality.—Sir Richard Branson, chairman, the Virgin Group

Mark Zuckerberg

For the past five years, I've sat at a desk next to Sheryl and I've learned something from her almost every day. She has a remarkable intelligence that can cut through complex processes and find solutions to the hardest problems. Lean In combines Sheryl's ability to synthesize information with her understanding of how to get the best out of people. The book is smart and honest and funny. Her words will help all readers—especially men—to become better and more effective leaders.—Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO, Facebook

Alicia Keys

The key to opening some of life's most difficult doors is already in our hands. Sheryl's book reminds us that we can reach within ourselves to achieve greatness.—Alicia Keys

Jim Collins

Sheryl Sandberg has done a tremendous service with this work. It offers a vital and sharp message, for women and men. We need great leaders in key seats spread throughout all sectors of society, and we simply cannot afford to lose 50 percent of the smartest, most capable people from competing for those seats. Provocative, practical, and inspired! —Jim Collins, author of Good to Great

Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group’s discussion of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

1. What does “lean in” mean? Why do you think women need to be urged to lean in?

2. The first three words in the book are “I got pregnant.” What does this signal about the kind of business book Lean In will be?

3. When Sandberg says, “The promise of equality is not the same as true equality” (p. 7), what does she mean? Have you found this statement to be accurate?

4. Why is “ambitious” often considered a derogatory word when used to describe a woman but complimentary when used to describe a man?

5. In chapter 2, Sandberg discusses the impostor syndrome: feeling like a fraud, fearing discovery with each success. Why do women feel this way more often than men do? What causes the gender gap?

6. Sandberg believes that there are times when you can reach for opportunities even if you are not sure you are quite ready to take them on—and then learn by doing.  Have you ever tried this?  What have you tried?  What was the result?

7. What did you learn from the anecdote on page 36, about keeping your hand up?

8. Why did Sandberg respond so negatively to being named the fifth most powerful woman in the world?

9. When negotiating, Sandberg tells women to use the word “we” rather than “I.” Why does the choice of pronoun make such a difference? 

10. On page 48, Sandberg says, “I understand the paradox of advising women to change the world by adhering to biased rules and expectations.” How do you feel about her advice?

11. What’s your take on Sandberg’s suggestion that we think of the path to a satisfying career as a jungle gym rather than a ladder? 

12. Sandberg argues that taking risks can be important in building a career.  How have you approached risk-taking in your life?

13. Sandberg argues that mentorship relationships rarely happen from asking strangers to mentor you, but rather from an opportunity to engage with someone in a more substantive way.  How has mentorship worked in your own experience?

14. People who believe that they speak “the truth” and not “their truth” can be very silencing of others, Sandberg says on page 79. What does she mean by this?

15. When considering employment after motherhood, Sandberg suggests that women shift the calculations and measure the current cost of child care against their salary ten years from now. Why is this a more effective perspective than just considering current costs? If you’re a parent, would this change your attitude toward employment and money?

16. In chapter 9, Sandberg blasts the myth of “having it all,” or even “doing it all,” and points to a poster on the wall at Facebook as a good motto: “Done is better than perfect.” (p. 125) What perfectionist attitudes have you dropped in order to find contentment?

17. Sandberg and her husband have different viewpoints about parenting: She worries about taking too much time away from their kids, while he’s proud of the time he does spend with them. Would it help women to adopt an attitude more like his?

18. In chapter 10, Sandberg discusses how the term “feminist” has taken on negative connotations. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why?

19. Discuss this assertion: “Staying quiet and fitting in may have been all the first generations of women who entered corporate America could do; in some cases, it might still be the safest path. But this strategy is not paying off for women as a group. Instead, we need to speak out, identify the barriers that are holding women back, and find solutions” (pp. 146–47).

20. In the book’s final chapter, Sandberg talks about the need to work together to create equality—to allow women to thrive in the workplace, and to allow men to participate proudly in the home and child rearing. What steps can you take right now to begin to make this happen?

Customer Reviews

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Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 187 reviews.
Transplanted_Southerner More than 1 year ago
I'm a man, and I picked up this book to see what successful women are doing to see if I might learn something. Why not pick up a pointer or two from somebody who's gone much further in her career--and with many more obstacles--than I have in mine? The list of things Sheryl Sandberg has done that I haven't is lengthy. Too many times I've not spoken up when I've had things to say. At work gathering after work gathering I've failed to sit at the table with key decision makers. Time and time again I downplay myself for fear I'll be seen as a self-promoter. The book reminded me of something I have done, however. I've moved cross country twice on account of my wife's career. Acknowledging that my wife's profession had more upside than my own wasn't easy, and I feel fortunate that none of my family and friends criticized me for supporting her. Sandberg's book taught me that other men are not so lucky. I knew of the challenges that women face if they choose to assert themselves in traditionally male dominated careers, but I never appreciated the gender based scrutiny and criticism men face when they choose to support them. Husbands and wives shouldn't have to consider gender related stereotypes when deciding who works outside the home and who works in it. Simply pick the best person for the jobs. I give the book 4 stars instead of 5 because I think it spends too much time telling men and women to remove gender from their decisions and not enough telling them specifically how.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a  young woman entering the business world, I found this book incredibly helpful and relatable. I currently have no marriage prospects, but I already have a fear that one day I will have to choose between family and career. Sandberg  made realize that not only am I not alone with this concern, but it is also possible to do both. Her insight, advice, and fun stories kept me up long into the night; I couldn't put the book down. I am so glad I read this book at such a young age. I highly recommend this book to driven females and males of all ages. I also want to comment on a few of the negative posts.  Yes, Sandberg went to Harvard and was the daughter of a doctor. I don't see how this is relevant. She still had the grades to get into Harvard and had the drive and skills to become successful. Not many people will have the same opportunities as she did but every one can relate to the concrete advice she gives you on how to succeed. The fact that people are talking about this issue at all is a gender bias. There are plenty of men leaders who were born with a silver spoon but the comments on that subject are rare. Secondly, Sandberg does not make any negative comments about mothers who stay at home. She mentions many, many times that she respects those women and realizes an executive position isn't everyone's dream. This book is for women who want to succeed and want to balance work and family life. This doesn't mean we are better or worse than the stay at home moms; it simply means we are different. If you do not have the drive to succeed in the business/work/volunteer world, this book is simply not for you.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't normally read career books so it was significant that I was excited to read this one. I enjoyed reading this book which has a lot of examples and plenty of research. By the end of the book, I was encouraged to take a serious look at my career and personal goals and how my own behaviors may be holding me back from attaining those goals. I would recommend this book to all my friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So, being a female member of management on her way up in one of the nation's largest grocery retailers, I had to pick up this book to find out how Sheryl did it and what all the excitement is about. My company has been around for 100+ years and I am proud to say that not only do we have women at the top, but those women are helping other women get there (through networking, real mentorship, and organizations within that promote help and promote women in getting where they want to go: all these helped me realize that I don't necessarily what to be a president but rather the TEACHER of our next one!) What was once a traditional man only club has offered ways for women and minorities to take advantage of opportunities we did not have 25 years ago. With that being said, it does come with a cost for time and time into your "other life" outside of the store. Books like these have helped me shape what I will become later for my company. I am very dedicated and loyal but have often times wondered why grocery retail? I want to provide great customer service for customers and a working environment that makes them want to come back each day for associates that are as loyal has I am. We are far from ideal but Sheryl is right. We will not be "balanced" until we see it for ourselves and DO IT, what we know is right for our families. Her book is for that middle management female on her way up who thinks that working every day and every night, email here, email there, nights away from your kids, is the only way. Ladies, your bosses go home and turn off their blackberries! I have had the pleasure of working with so many leaders in my career who have always told me to spend more time with my son., because the see how much they missed with their kids. After reading Sheryl's book, I can see now how I have missed so much and didn't have to. I can still be GREAT and have my other life, too. I had to figure out that my other life is my first life and in the few weeks since reading the book, I have made small steps in the direction that includes my son and my husband more (no more checking email when my son is awake and I am off, no working on projects during my time off, planning better during the week to get projects off my task lists so that I can have this time with my family). Probably the most important point Sheryl drives home is not taking your spouse for granted. I am that very lucky woman who has a husband who is the primary caregiver of our son, who has moved with me for a job opportunity within my company, who does not take opportunities for himself within his company because he sees the future ahead for mine, cooks and cleans, and puts up with my out of balance life. My husband is a saint and Sheryl has shown me that my husband truly is my life partner and that without him I would not be where I am today. He deserves my time, my attention, and an afternoon in his lazy chair while I entertain our kid. If Sheryl's book does anything for anyone, and no we don't all have companies that we work for that have all the features she describes, but if you can take some of her messages and apply them to your unbalanced life, how much better would it be? I do recommend this book for anyone who is moving up within their company, the men who support them and need to understand why this woman is the way she is, and I recommend this to any mentor of any aspiring associate who needs balance before she gets to where she is headed.
sportygirl12 More than 1 year ago
It takes courage and a boldness to expose these topics. I applaud her and have found each chapter enlightening and relatable. As a female working in a predominately male organization - I found it helpful. From "Sit at the Table" to giving yourself credit where credit is due - gave me motivation and confidence to lean in. It's not sad by any means to find the balance, to empower yourself, and in the end become a role model/better mom for your children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
 The book is engaging and a quick read, but adds little new to the discussion of women in the workplace.  I was hoping to get more out of this book than I did.  However, Sandberg's personal experiences are interesting and worthy of reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An excellect, insightful look at what motivates and hinders women in the work place. This book is not only a great read for any woman, but any manager, or employer who seeks to grow and improve his work force. Lean In uses personal stories, scholarly studies, and collected data to educate the reader about this relevant and important topic. It is well written, and one finds himself (herself!), looking foward to the next chapter. This book has left it's mark on me, I venture that anyone who thoughtfully reads it will be impacted in a positive way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just want to express my gratitude to the author and BN; I enjoy reading every single page. She is insightful, articulate and passionate about her views. It is exceptionality well written. I love how she dismantle all the common views we as women have about ourselves. I love the chapter on “Are you my mentor? “It’s truly open your eyes on what it is to be a mentor and what it takes to have someone mentoring you, I was always going about it the wrong way . Thanks to her I know understand what someone feels when they are asked to be a mentor. Seriously LOVE this book!!!
Todays_Working_Woman More than 1 year ago
Question: When is a book not a book. Answer: When it has 37 footnotes by the 24th page. Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg is nothing more than a thesis paper thinly disguised and marketed by the publishing company as the next "it" book for women. Well...not all women; at least in my mind. Why, you ask? The reality is that most women are never going to get the opportunity to work in a Fortune 500 company as an executive. Now that's not to say that women won't have opportunities to work in large or mid-size corporations. Let's face it. Most top level jobs are already taken, and if the company is worth its salt, the chance for advancement is slim because those at the top like their jobs and tend to stay, especially when the company is well established and appreciates their staff. So what kind of message is Ms. Sandberg sending to the average American woman? On the surface, I can't quite figure it out. Perhaps we need to dig a little deeper here. If her book is merely a dissertation on the battle between the sexes and the inequality of paychecks, then sadly, the author is really behind the times and she hasn't told us anything that we haven't already heard. However, if she is saying that we, as women, will never be happy unless we occupy every top level executive position in the country, well then, I beg to differ? What if our mothers decided they didn't want to be our mothers and just wanted to climb that corporate ladder, then where would we be? What if I don't want to be a top level executive at a Fortune 500 company? Can't I be happy doing exactly what I am doing right now? What if I don't want to be a leader? What if there are other women who don't want to be leaders? Is being a leader the only road to happiness? I think not. I have a lot of will and ambition, but my desires don't necessarily point me in that direction. But, let's take this a little further. Ms. Sandberg says on page 10 (Kindle version) that she "would never advocate that we should have the same objectives. Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire....We each have to chart our own unique course and define which goals fit our lives, values and dreams." This is great, however, the overall message of the book makes it seem that the only correct life choice that we, as women, should have is to be on that corporate ladder climbing toward the top rung to obtain equality. She says on page 10 (Kindle version) "If we succeed in adding more female voices at the highest levels, we will expand opportunities and extend fairer treatment to all." Now that the author has highly advocated that we, as women, should go for that top rung, and we succeed in adding more women to top level positions, where's the guarantee that fairer treatment and equality will occur? Also, while I thank her for supporting us in making choices, but then tell us in the next breath that we, as women, should all be leaning into our careers to level the playing field just seems to send out a mixed message. And, let's not even talk about the underlying subtext of the "you should be doing it this way because this is the way I did it, I know it works, and you will be successful and happy if you do it this way." With so many inconsistencies throughout this book, it makes it difficult to see what the real point is here. To circle back around to the very beginning of my review, this entire book reads like a master's thesis paper for one of Sandberg's Harvard classes. While I can appreciate the fact that she loves to "rely on hard data and academic research" (page 9, Kindle version), some of us would have just preferred her thoughts on the subject backed up by her real life experiences. The 227 footnotes is a little excessive and limits the audience from any opportunity to flush out the details, not to mention the loss of flow while reading due to constantly having to flip back and forth between the book and the footnotes. How are we as the readers suppose to know if these thoughts are really hers or those that were referenced? And, who really has time to read through, in depth, all of these footnotes, including researching the sources of those said footnotes? Certainly not myself. Now, I will admit that there are some principals in this book that can be followed and adapted to fit every women's life. (Note: It took until almost the last couple of chapters to find some kernals of wisdom. Any hope of finding something earlier in the book is simply lost within the text stemming from the research and footnotes.) Perhaps these few morsels were the real intent of the book, but the message simply was too muddied up in her intelligentsia. As a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business school, there is no doubt that Sheryl is a smart woman; however, she would have better served her audience if she had spoken to us and not above us. As a college graduate, I have the capability of dissecting and extrapolating information; however, others might not be able to do so, or if they were it would be with great difficulty. Perhaps there is something here, I just don't see it. Maybe it got lost in the translation. Overall, I think the message to "lean in" to "whatever" could have been delivered with a little less reliance on statistics and information from other sources. The one thing the book failed to mention is after we, as women, work so hard to get to the top rung, what do we do when we get there? It seems that the author and her colleagues have spent too much time climbing the corporate ladder, missing out on having some fun and losing the opportunities to be truly creative and produce something that will leave a lasting mark on the world, other than to say, I was the CEO/COO (or some other high level position) of such and such company. As for me, I would rather not strive for the top rung, but hang back a few steps, and enjoy the creativity and fun afforded to me at that level while enjoying life a whole lot more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Book! Would make a great gift for the graduating college senior.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well, it's hard not to be disarmed by someone who, in the first few pages, tells you that she spent the nine months of her first pregnancy bent over a toilet, gained 70 pounds, and couldn't recognize her feet. Not long after that, she tells you that she felt like a failure when she got a divorce in her twenties. Sandberg's willingness to model that for which she argues, and share her stories, be vulnerable (lean in) increases the books authenticity and increases the likelihood that the reader will be receptive to what she's trying to say, and be motivated to internalize those messages. She wisely acknowledges that her call for women to lean in does not mean that men and businesses and the like don't have some leaning in to do as well, and also that leaning in is not the right choice for all women, all the time. Having dispensed with those inevitable rejoinders, she moves swiftly and crisply through her thoughts (carefully well-supported by data) on women, work, and leadership. She's less about how to do something--sit at the table, for example--than about why she believes that something is important. This more cerebral orientation also aids the book's brisk pace. I think it would be easy to see this book as only for women who have both families, and careers (whether they love those careers or not), who probably make choices with which they feel uneasy every day. There is tremendous value in Lean In's validation of the difficulty of navigating these roles and making these choices. But I hope others read this book, too. I think the only thing you need to be to see the value of living in the world for which Sandberg hopes--the one in which you do as you've dreamed without internal and external obstacles holding you back--is a person.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a woman in a leadership role for a school district I found this book empowering. I loved the variety of studies cited in this book like the Howard/ Heidi study. I now look for more opportunities where I can "sit at the table".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As with all "self help" books, not all scenarios and advice apply to everyone but this is a good book for women (and men) looking to understand corporate culture. I also recommend Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very nice book! Gives a sense to achieve something in the world by providing a strong example that the world is changing. Aptly she is COO Facebook. She is the one of the strongest (and richest) Face of a long lost Book called Woman, which is now being opened to world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although my circumstances are different this book showed me that leaning in is beneficial in every walk of life. Those of us who do not lean in are often afraid and that fear can steal our success.
TTMonster More than 1 year ago
This is the best thing I've read in a long time. Far from the typical women's business book, Sandberg mixes solid advice with stories from her life. This should be required reqding for every woman as she climbs the ladder- and for her male bosses along the way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this should be a must read for women in business school.  
Anonymous 11 months ago
A great, thought-provoking read for college students and grads, and men and women alike! This book immediately caught my attention just from the introduction. The statistics that compare men and women in the workplace today are shocking and eye-opening. Sheryl Sandberg is a giant in the business world, working for huge companies such as Google and Facebook. Her insights and personal experiences are inspiring and encouraging, especially to someone like me who is a young college female getting ready to graduate. As an HR emphasis major, this book has really made me look at women in the workplace in a different light. In order for true gender equality to happen, we must first educate ourselves and learn ways we can make a change. Even as a woman I was never aware of some practices that happen, such as women being afraid to speak out in a meeting or feeling like a fraud when they are recognized for their achievements. This isn't just a book for women, but for men also. Men would be shocked to hear some things that could be happening in their very own workplace that they would never be aware of. In order for us to make a difference, the entire population must be aware of the changes that need to be made. Overall, this book is a very easy read and left me wanting more. I encourage anyone and everyone to pick up this book and learn from one of the business community's greatest female leaders.
Anonymous 11 months ago
As a female business student, I found this book to be incredibly intriguing. Sheryl provides advice that women and men alike can take with them at any point in their careers. Her views gave me a new insight to not only think about my own personal and career goals, but to put them into action. Sandberg’s witty humor and relatable anecdotes come together to create a work that so clearly illustrates the hidden, but enduring issues of true gender inequality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book to read at the beginning of my career.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading Lean In, and am inspired...inspired to be more mindful of how I think and how I act, mindful to start thinking more like a man (while always embracing who I am) and mindful to become a little less fearless - to sit at the table, to keep my hand raised, to not ask permission but rather go full force in my profession with my own knowledge, strength and capabilities. I am grateful for this added insight as it will not only better myself and my clients, but most importantly, my amazing, intelligent, and charismatic nieces. Thank you Sheryl for delivering this gift and also continuing to support and embolden women around the world!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so inspirational - Every Women should read this book!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
10527759 More than 1 year ago
amazing book, so much great points brought up and super inspiring !