5 Reasons Why Sheryl Sandberg Is The Lightening Rod That Women Need Today

Far too often we see women giving up one part of their lives for success in another part. I’m sure you could easily think of many inspiring women who have given up the chance to start a family because they were busy “focusing on their careers.” I’m sure you could think of even more women, many that you probably know, that have given up their careers to focus on their family. Well we say “no more!” We are alpha females, ladies. If we want to have an inspiring career we most definitely can! If we want to have a family too, that is our right, and we can do both successfully.

Sheryl Sandberg is just the woman to help us realize these goals. The wildly successful alpha lady has focused her career on helping women make it to the top in a male-dominated world of boardrooms and corner offices. She does so with inspiring advice, great determination and makes no apologies for her motivation. Sheryl Sandberg is the lightening rod that women need today and we have five reasons why. Prepare to be electrified.

  1. Sheryl Sandberg understands the issues and isn’t afraid to speak about them.

What do I mean by issues? Well, let me rattle off a few statistics for you. The business world of today still holds an unfair advantage toward men. In the corporate world, women at the top of the corporate ladder tops out at 16%. Out of the 190 heads of state, only 9 are women, and only 13% of the people in parliament in the world are women.  Women are wildly underrepresented in leadership positions in the business world and no one knows this better than Sheryl Sandberg. On the same token, arguably no one has been able to overcome these statistics as impressively as Sheryl Sandberg. Sandberg takes issue with the inequality in the workplace for women to rise to the top and believes that the key to helping women make it to the top of the workplace is to keep them in the workplace. Her book Lean In is a self-described “manifesto” for women in the workplace. Not only does Sandberg address the lack of female faces at the heads of businesses, but she empowers women to do something about it.

Now, writing a book isn’t exactly speaking, but she does that too! Sandberg’s TED Talks speech in the “For All Womankind” conference has been viewed over two million times and features one of the most inspiring speeches of the day. Sandberg speaks with confidence, determination and grace, leaving the listener inspired to go out and change the world at the end of her fifteen- minute declaration for female empowerment.

How does she want us to reach for our dreams? Sit at the table! Sandberg noticed women tending to sit at the edges of the boardrooms while the men firmly placed themselves at the table. The problem, according to Sandberg, is that “women systematically underestimate their own abilities.” Women are more likely to attribute their successes to external causes, while men attribute their successes to themselves. Women are also less likely to negotiate for their salaries. Women don’t believe they deserve to sit at the table, while men know that they do. Sandberg wants you to “believe in yourself, negotiate for yourself, own your own success.” Sit at the table.

  1. Sandberg is a living example of her teachings.

Of course it’s all fine and good to tell us what to do to be successful, but what about actually doing it? Well, Sandberg has! She is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. Before that she was a Vice President at Google and previous to that was the Chief of Staff at the US Treasury Department. She was named one of Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women, one of Time’s Most Influential People and the 5th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. She has two Harvard degrees and a personal worth just shy of a billion, and if that’s not enough she has two children and a supportive husband. She is the personification of her teachings and someone we can look to when we feel that a life of personal and professional fulfillment cannot be done. Sandberg is here to not only tell you, but show you, that it can be done!

Sandberg manages to do all this while still being someone that you want to be friends with. She’s warm, funny and charming. Sandberg points out that success and likeability are negatively correlated for women and positively correlated for men; but she doesn’t let this fact hold her back. Sandberg continues to stay true to herself and forgets the prescription of a cold demeanor for success. Her humour and friendly demeanor only make her more of the total package.

  1. She believes in us and wants us to believe in ourselves too.

Sheryl Sandberg knows that we are 50 percent of the population and therefore deserve to occupy 50 percent of the top jobs, and she thinks we deserve to believe that too. We need to believe that we deserve to sit at the table. As mentioned above, we underestimate ourselves and men overestimate themselves. We need to have that same confidence. We need to know that our sex has nothing to do with why we aren’t sitting at the table, it’s our confidence. Screw being humble! If you rocked that presentation, if you have great insights to share, if you think you’re an important part of the team, you should own it! You did the work, you deserve the credit, the promotion and the positive outcome. Remember, if you’re not going to toot your own horn, there’s a man standing right next to you that most definitely will tell you about his accomplishments and will probably get that promotion because of it.

  1. Sheryl Sandberg knows that work is not our only worry.

We can climb to the top of any corporate ladder that we want, but without a fulfilling personal life it’s hard to truly feel like a success. If we want to have a successful life we need to have equality at work and at home.

At home we need to make our partners our partners. “If a woman and a man both work full time and have a child, a woman does twice the amount of housework and three times the amount of child work that the man does,” according to Sandberg. When we place these kinds of pressures on ourselves and create an unequal set of responsibilities at home, we as women are most likely to drop ourselves out of work when someone needs to be home more. Sandberg tells us that households with equal earning and equal responsibility have half the divorce rate, and if you’re not sold on that, better sex lives! Talk about a win-win situation.

  1. Even in the face of adversity, Sandberg comes out unscathed.

Of course, Sandberg’s road hasn’t been completely as charmed as it seems. She has faced a barrage of criticism from everyone including mothers, feminists and the general public for her teachings.  Her status as a wealthy woman has found her distanced from women who feel that they do not have the same ability to make tough work choices and negotiate for themselves as Sandberg does. She is also criticized for trying to be too likeable, a problem she addresses herself. Even her Facebook boss, Mark Zuckerberg, addressed this fact in an anecdote from her book in which he sits her down and tells her that her desire to be liked by everybody will hold her back. Sandberg certainly isn’t liked by everybody and she certainly isn’t being held back either. Even the women who criticize her have admitted that her book is one that they’d like their daughters to read. Of course Sandberg will never win in the eyes of critics. In an NPR interview in which she was being criticized for thanking too many people for her success and not owning it, something Sandberg feels all women should do, the women discussing it also point out that they criticized Sarah Palin in the past for owning her success too much. This shows that the business landscape is harder for women.  We are either too likeable, too cold, too nice, too mean, too…something! All we can do is make ourselves proud.

The thing we can’t argue with is her message, one of strength, truth and empowerment for women. She is just what women today need. She is strong, determined, vivacious and utterly inspiring. Her book “Lean In” is here to help us to live a life of success in all sectors. To win it, along with five other books by inspiring leaders on an Amazon Kindle visit Women Who Run It’s page on Facebook to enter our Facebook Sweepstakes for Women Who Run It!

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Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is an Associate Editor at Goddess Connections for the Women Who Run It E-Mag. She graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications Studies. She is a resident of Toronto and she has a passion for exploring topics on health and fitness, and enjoys writing stories about women’s issues. She also enjoys writing about business and how to build a career. When she is not working for Women Who Run It you can find her exploring Toronto, going for jogs, or simply enjoying life as a strong, empowered woman who runs it. Her goal is to share stories that help women of all walks of life take control of their lives and create balance with ease.