Leadership

What Do You Mean, Lean In?

Is Sheryl Sandberg's book on women in the workplace revolutionary or ridiculous?

Written by Staff

Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, released this March, is getting a lot of attention, both good and bad.

Boiled down to its most basic, Sandberg’s argument is that women will only truly succeed in the workforce if they adopt the same attitudes and approaches as men.

For as many blogs and magazines as exist, there are almost as many interpretations of the book’s core message. There have also been countless claims of faulty logic and flawed premises.

Kate Losse’s critical review of the book—the one that led to a Twitter smackdown between the Dissent writer and Brandee Barker, a former Facebook public relations executive who has been promoting the book—argues that Sandberg isn’t really fighting for women. Losse says, “By arguing that women should express their feminism by remaining in the workplace at all costs, Sandberg encourages women to maintain a commitment to the workplace without encouraging the workplace to maintain a commitment to them.”

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New York Post writer Maureen Callahan says that the glaring flaw in Sandberg’s thesis is her assumption that women in the workplace champion each other. She argues that women in the workplace would have an easier time succeeding if only they weren’t so busy undermining each other.

The conversations has centred mainly on high-powered women in the corporate world. What about female entrepreneurs? Do the same rules apply when you’re driving your own company?

In yet another interpretation of the book, James Allworth wrote a blog for HBR suggesting that maybe it’s not women who should lean in, rather it’s men who should step back. “While it might have been written as a treatise of what women could be doing to more of to gain more leadership positions in our organizations, and how we would all benefit from that happening, there was something else that stood out for me: it read as a pretty comprehensive list of things that the men have been doing wrong. More concerning still — it spent a lot of time encouraging women to copy us.”

Jezebel, a site that rarely posts glowing reviews, loves the book. In her review, Tracie Egan Morrissey calls the book “equal parts commonsense and revolutionary, combining practical advice (how to communicate effectively, how to self-negotiate, how to self-advocate, how to split duties in the home, etc.) with big-picture goals.”

The conversations has centred mainly on high-powered women in the corporate world. What about female entrepreneurs? Do the same rules apply when you’re driving your own company?

What do you think? Leave your comments below to keep the conversation going.

Photo: Michael Yarish/AMC

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com