You may know Sheryl Sandberg from an array of her impressive “gigs”. Some of which include, Harvard University, The Walt Disney Company, Center for Global Development, Google and her current title as Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. She has what would classify as a pretty solid resume. In addition to extraordinary experience, she also has impressive skills as a fighter for women’s equality. Here are 5 ways Sheryl is fighting for the ladies of leadership and how we can collaborate with her efforts.
- She’s not afraid to win. This statement may at first seem irrational; who doesn’t want to win, right? But the truth is often times we are afraid of succeeding beyond our wildest dreams – especially succeeding at several of our wildest dreams. Why? Because we’re scared of the future measuring stick we will face in all our following endeavors or the criticism that can accrue due to envious sideline spectators. But Sheryl has been an unapologetic and proudly rising star since her early school days. Class President, National Honor’s Society Student at the top of her class, excelling as a top grad at Harvard, earning a Harvard MBA with highest distinction, serving as a Chief of Staff to our Secretary of Treasury, a Google exec, Facebook exec, and is reportedly worth over a billion dollars…whew…and get this: Sheryl is only 45 years old! She is a perfect testament to standing tall and not playing small.
- She knows a fighter has to first be a leader – a liked leader. Leadership is something Sheryl knows a thing or two about. She didn’t “happen” to land coveted positions at Fortune 500 companies. Sheryl learned early on how to reign in her savvy know-how to progress in her affairs. "Leadership is about getting people to follow you - because they want to - and they believe," Sheryl said. "Leadership is the ability to use the full talents of the population to get the very best from everyone regardless of gender or race or background or age."
Part of Sheryl’s likeable appeal in her wage for women’s leadership equality is her willingness to level with relatable scenarios. In one instance she polled the audience to demonstrate how our “modern” society is still stuck in the Mayberry days in regards to raising children at home.
She said, "Women, raise your hand if anyone has ever said to you, 'Should you be working?,'" with many in the room raising their hands. "We constantly tell women they can't have it all." And Sheryl is a living example that YES, we can want
it all and have
- She assembles her fight with the finest fighters. Sheryl knows to change the way an entire society operates; it’s going to take an army –literally. She takes her mission to influx leadership with more women all the way to The Pentagon. There she addressed officers and members of the U.S. military and highlighted how diverse teams make better decisions. She left a packed room speechless with several jaw dropping illustrations she used to show how conditioned our culture is to the male versus female expectations in life. Saying that, “We react [with bias] without even realizing we’re doing it.” She called on the military to kick start the effort saying, "I believe that the United States military has an incredibly important role to play here. If you look at the history of desegregation, the military led; a lot of the good things that happened in our society happened here first.”
"If we want to increase our progress along racial discrimination, if we want to increase our progress along the leadership gaps of women and people of color, the military has to lead," she continued. It’s safe to say Sheryl knows how to build a business from the inside, out and how to build an entire crusade from the ground, up.
- She is not afraid to engage and initiate head-on. A fighter bravely pursues their endeavors with an inspirational “join me” rally in tow (think Braveheart style). Sheryl has repeatedly shown she is willing to spearhead discussions about the subjects that are hard to talk about. Making tangible progress in getting women in leadership roles and discussing the wage gap between men and women are topics that are not exactly popular icebreakers, not to mention conversations to unearth in general. But that doesn’t sway Sheryl from her equality mission stating, "What I think will make the really big difference is if we can make sure we explain this as core to mission-critical leadership."
When Sheryl previously worked as a top Google executive and chief of staff at the U.S. Treasury Department, said she "never spoke about being a woman" when she was advancing in her career. "Because I thought if you spoke about being a woman, the person on the other side of the table thinks you're whining, complaining, asking for special treatment..." she said. "What we are currently doing is not working; the veil of silence is not creating an equal playing field. We need to acknowledge the issues, acknowledge the biases and counteract them," she concluded.
While we may think pointing out an organizational shortcoming conveys weakness, it actually portrays a proactive awareness.
- She takes a proactive stance in her fighting position. When you’re a fighter, your stance is everything. It maintains and supports your balance and sustainability. And Sheryl has some serious staying power with the support of her family and how they show the world what a family of equality looks like. Both Sheryl and her husband have been open about their marriage being a “shared earnings/shared parenting” relationship. Both take responsibility for earning the family's income (sufficient to meet at least half of the family's basic expenses and preferably some reserve) and both identify as primary parents to children, responsible for childcare, meeting children's needs and supporting children's development, and as responsible for half the unpaid work of the home. If this sounds like a dream to you, Sheryl is out to prove it can be our common reality.
Thank you Sheryl for leveraging for ladies – you are a top-notch example of how we should all aspire for top-notch status.
- When the list of Sheryl’s achievements was presented, did you think “overachiever”? If so, that is actually the primary case in point Sheryl’s many lectures have highlighted. When talking about serial success, men are often viewed with more acceptance than women. Has there ever been a time you played small in fear you would be labeled critically?
- Sheryl didn’t beat around the bush when she said to be a successful leader you have to be a liked This can seem confusing when battling the predisposition women typically face in being people pleasers. What is a characteristic you embody that often attracts people to you without you trying? How can you embody more positive traits with that same effortless appeal?
- Sheryl could continue to fight for women’s equality on her own accord, but instead she is enlisting as many powerful core contacts as she can – even encouraging the entire U.S. military to step up to the cause. And in doing so, her fight upgrades from a “fight” to an entire movement. It’s one thing to have a fire for something, but quite another to recruit heavily on its behalf. What is a conviction that you felt so whole-heartedly that you put on your recruitment shoes? How did you go about the rallying process – social media, events, speaking efforts?
- Being the one who calls out the white elephant is never an anticipated role. Nonetheless, it is a vital role. Someone has to bring difficult subjects to light or else stagnancy will drive everyone crazy and progress will always seem unrealistic. What is the most difficult subject you ever had to spearhead? Have you ever had to speak up to a female related issue in the workplace or at home?
- What are your thoughts regarding a Shared Earnings/ Shared Parenting marriage? How did you react to her husbands death? Have you lost someone dear to you and part of your support team? How did you cope?