Since the book launched, I have met people with who I got into raging arguments around Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In over. There are a handful of people who are against some of the principles espoused in the text but for the most part, a lot of people agree that while not everything applies to everyone, there are a few valuable take-aways.
In fact, only until you have a conversation with someone about their moment of ‘Leaning In’ does the truth hit home – as women we are leaning in a lot more now, just not necessarily defining it in those terms. The battle is far from over though. How do you bridge the gap between being a follower and being more assertive, the latter being what you need in most cases to lean in?
One of my friends recently faced a conundrum. She knew of an opportunity within the organization and in her opinion, it represented growth for her and was the direction in which she wanted her career to grow. For women though, we tend to be very clear on what we want our career track to look like. What we don’t seem to be good at is vocalizing ‘I am the right fit for this opportunity’, and even when we do it is not with conviction.
Research shows that while men will respond to an advert if they have between 60-70% of the required qualifications, women do not apply unless they have between 80-90% of requirements. It’s a cross between a confidence crisis and self-belief. But my friend, when she decided to put herself up for the position posited ‘What is the worst that could happen?’
Starting with your closest contact, the organization you’re affiliated to in order to expand your career not only allows you to take advantage of opportunities, it also lets your superiors know you have initiative and are interested in growth. If they have good faith, they will not let an opportunity you are a good fit for pass you by. Don’t assume that your boss knows you want to grow. Vocalize it whenever you get the chance.
- Do not wait to be a perfect 100% match for a position before you throw your hat in the ring. Early and often, express interest in opportunities that allow you to expand.
- Lean in more whenever you get the chance. Say yes first then learn and put your best effort into becoming good at the role you’re leaning into. Remember that a lot of people are hired for their potential and willingness to learn, not because they could ace the work perfectly the first time.