People are taking issue with Sheryl Sandberg’s privileged position as she encourages women to Lean In . That’s not what bothers me though, and in some ways is a red herring…a means to divide women, yet again (rich vs poor as we’ve long done with stay-at-home vs working).
What bothers me is that what’s coming out of Lean In is not really new advice, and the issue is still centered smack dab in our laps. Guidance about leadership style, confidence, and managing time gets old. Sure, then what? We’ve been there and done that; it’s not working for women or corporations which want to be more inclusive and innovative. The issue of women in leadership and work family balance begins and ends with children. This is the frontier we must redefine together.
The privilege of an army of people to care for home and children certainly makes working logistically easier, but it can also disconnect parents (M or F) from the daily lives of their children, which is tough on everyone and affects the culture of corporations too.
We must put children at the center and solve for a new paradigm, F and M together, for how to engage in raising children while including ALL of our talent in work and leadership. It has never been easier to solve for this ideal, which many of us achieve by working independently, leveraging technology and networks. Organizations could choose to do the same. Our children need this, but so do our organizations. Imagine the leaders we would grow if they could lean into their humanity as they rise! Organizational empathy and innovation would be the prize.
What’s most encouraging in this age of social media is that the right debate may finally happen at the virtual water cooler, and to that, we should all Lean In.
Photo: Stephane Mahe/Reuters