Lean in, self nominate, work hard, have it all but with a smile pasted on your face and whilst pushing away self deprecating statements. Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, a Harvard scholar and experienced leader has some exceptional advice for women wanting to climb the ladder in their career in her 2013 book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Societal norms and expectations mean women have a complex map to navigate when it comes to finances as well as other elements of their lives. For women choosing any career path where they are an employee it’s important to remember, your income is your greatest asset. In this article I draw on three key insights I learnt from Sandberg’s book, Lean In, to apply to my financial journey: to push past the Tiara syndrome, to negotiate differently and to be authentic and real.
Lean in lesson 1: Push past the Tiara syndrome – you have the power
A large difference between men and women, from a career perspective, is that men lean in. Men work through their career asking to be promoted, putting up their hand for opportunities that they are not qualified for and leaping through to the next job.
Women sit back working incredibly hard and thinking their hard work will be acknowledged by their colleagues and employers for the next position. Sandberg quotes Carol Frohlinger Judith Williams and Deborah Kolb’s work in defining this behaviour as the Tiara syndrome, highlighting the importance of women advocating for themselves instead of doing your job exceptionally well and waiting for leaders to acknowledge this and place a Tiara on their head.
Don’t wait for power to be offered – ask, put your hand up and make known what you want but do this very strategically and in line with gender norms and with a smile on your face, this ties into Sandberg’s next insight, negotiate differently.
Lean in lesson 2: Negotiate differently
Women need to actively negotiate differently than men because of the gendered bias and the way women are viewed in society.
Sandberg highlights and names the gendered stereotypes still associated with women in the workforce. Stereotypes that allow for men to be driven, focused and providers and the very same stereotypes that define women as caregivers, sensitive and communal.
“For women, feeling like a fraud is a symptom of a bigger problem […] women constantly underestimate themselves.”
Sandberg speaks of her own experiences of negotiation throughout her career even through to when she was offered her position at Facebook. She wanted the job so badly that she was desperate to accept the first offer. A different tact Sandberg took in her negotiation was to work through with Zuckerberg cleverly aligning her negotiation position with the job in line with the types of attributes that Zuckerberg would want in a leader in the position.
Self deprivation among women in the workforce has become a form of self defense. Women must move away from this.
For a successful negotiation women need to actively align through with female stereotypes of being nice, caring about other people as opposed to naming what they want and deserve, acknowledging efforts as team efforts as opposed to individually earnt endevaours as well as justifying requests with specific research and standards and being relentlessly pleasant along the way. But it is not all bad for women, because of gender stereotypes women can also be more open and create true and authentic relationships which ties into Sandberg’s final point.
Lean in lesson 3 – Be authentic, honest and real
Sandberg shares a very real and open story about being offered a great job soon after her separation with her first husband. Instead of making up a story Sandberg told the company the truth, she did not feel up to being located in the same city as her ex at the time. She muses that a year later when another role came up she felt ready to move and confident in speaking to the company about how much for wanted the job.
Before starting the site and writing my book felt alone in my feelings surrounding the negative messages posed by the media related to millennials and finance. Particularly as a single female going into the process. Part of driving my personal success financially has been naming and exposing how I am feeling and researching and exposing the poorly researched myths surrounding millennials, finance and housing.
By tracking this journey publicly, sharing my hopes and dreams of buying my own place I have made new friends and contacts and shared insights with other young people in my position who are feeling exactly the same as me. Here I was previously sitting back and thinking it was just me because finance, like religion, sex and politics, is a taboo subject. Before being vulnerable and publishing my journey people previously had not spoken to me in relation to their financial situation, dreams or fears. With my stance as The Economiss people have been open to discussions and helping to further educate me with their clever hacks, strategies and personal insights. I no longer feel alone and if I can provide even a small piece shimmer of light for other millennial women to take pride in overcoming gender stereotypes that women are hopeless with finance and instead align themselves with pride in being financial meerkat as opposed to a financial ostrich.
Lean In – Summary
Sandberg’s book had many leadership insights and three takeaways I will apply to my financial journey include moving away from the tiara syndrome in the workplace, negotiating with a different and more effective tact that is aligned with gendered stereotypes and being authentic and real.