Lean In – Book Review

2 comments Written on May 13th, 2013     
Filed under: Book & Commentary
Lean InMy wife read this book recently and suggested that I might find it useful, not only in light of my role on the CBGE, but helpful to me personally as a man in leadership vocationally.  As is quite often the case, she was right.  Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, is a book about leadership.  While primarily written for women, many of her premises clearly apply to men also, but more importantly give men (and women) some important insights about why women may “hold back” rather than “Lean In.”

Sandberg, from her own experience, puts forth that while women experience the realities of the many external barriers that have historically and continually kept women from advancing up the leadership ladder there is also the important factor of one’s own internal barriers. (Oh, by the way, she also suggests that advancement in today’s world is not up a ladder, but up a jungle gym, with many routes to higher rungs of leadership.) In this book, she explores some of the life experiences that may contribute to what she calls the “leadership ambition gap.”

Having actually read the book, I find it interesting the various controversies and criticisms of this book or even more frequently of Sandberg personally.  Many criticize her for having the means to enable her to maintain a career while raising children, when many women do not have that choice but must work in order to survive. These are some of the realities of those external barriers that keep women down, or at least from advancing.  Others are critical of her and imply that she advocates for a specific position, such as, women should remain in the workforce or that somehow they are viewed negatively if they choose to remain home to raise their children.  I personally saw none of this as I read the book.  Rather I believe that Sandberg advances the challenge that the discussion needs to continue so that gains made by the work of pioneers of the past are not lost.

After having read this book, and in serving on the Covenant’s Commission on Biblical Gender Equality, I am continually amazed at how one’s personal biases prevent people from an open reading or discussion on the topic of gender equality, whether that be a secular book like Sandberg’s or even the Bible.  I am reminded of a statement made by a teenager that I was seeing in counseling many years ago, “Our minds are like cement…all mixed up and set.”  May it not be so for us.  Our world, and the church need us all to demonstrate the ability to listen with open minds and open hearts to hear and see a whole viewpoint in its entire context before rejecting it or judging it as error.

You may find Lean In at Amazon by clicking here

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Jeff Ondrey, CBGE Member

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2 comments “Lean In – Book Review”

The link to Amazon.com does not work, tried it three times.

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This should work now. Thanks for letting us know.

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