Sheryl Sandberg has a point. In her book ‘Lean In’, Facebook’s current COO asks women, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
Sandberg is a public role model. Her book has empowered millions of women to step up. To seek and speak the truth. To claim their seat at the table. It is a noble cause.
What would Sandberg do now if she weren’t afraid? Facebook currently sits at the eye of the biggest of internet storms. Data leaks, creepy settings and shady data deals have shaken the confidence of millions of users. The scandal has even triggered a global privacy debate. Does “free” mean “I pay with my data?” How safe is safe? What’s safe enough? These are fundamental questions, and millions of people are searching for guidance.
But where is Sandberg? She has offered a few apologies here and there. She has not shaped the debate, not publicly leaned in. The former role model keeps a low profile. Who’s stopping her? The legal team? Perhaps. The PR advisors? Maybe. Her own boss? Probably.
There’s more to learn from Sandberg. When you want power, leaning in is a good strategy. When you have power, leaning in is an obligation—and it’s equally hard.
Henry Kissinger once said: “A leader does not deserve the name unless he or she is willing to occasionally stand alone.” Leaning in is an old idea. Not leaning in is an old problem.
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When you want your voice to be heard, dare to lean in. When you are in power, whether as CEO, a team leader, or simply as the smartest person in the room, remember: your voice matters. Your voice can give hope. Your voice can turn the tide. Ask yourself: “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?” Seek and speak the truth.
Lean in, really.
(This is from my Marketing Week column).