So, it’s pretty clear that Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, doesn’t need any help from me in promoting her new book, Lean In. (For more on Sandberg on this blog check out Wondering ‘Am I A Good Leader?’ Take the Sheryl Sandberg Test.) In what is the most impressive book launch I’ve ever seen, Sandberg and her book on women and leadership have received a ton of coverage and conversation online. She’s chatted with Oprah, been on the cover of Time magazine, and featured in publications like the New York Times, Harvard Business Review and the Financial Times. Lean In sold 140,000 copies in its first week and the publisher has ordered 400,000 more copies. It’s number one on Amazon, USA Today, and will be number one in the March 31 edition of the New York Times bestseller list.
The week Sandberg’s book launched I was at a management offsite with one of my executive coaching clients. I suggested to him the first night we were there that we both needed to read Lean In. I haven’t checked in with him yet, but I’m about two chapters away from finishing it. While Sandberg’s primary purpose with the book is to encourage women to lean in to their careers and play big, after reading it for the past couple of weeks I’m even more convinced that men should read Lean In too.
Here are three reasons why:
Be a Part of the Conversation – When a book launches as huge as Lean In has, it changes the conversation. Pretty much every serious business person I know has read Jim Collins’ Good to Great. People talk about that book all the time. Based on the first couple of weeks of performance and buzz, I’m predicting that Lean In will be bigger than Good to Great. I’d argue that it’s a more important book because of the fundamental issues and opportunities it addresses. People will be talking about and referring to this book for a long time to come. If you haven’t read it, you won’t be able to intelligently participate in the conversation.
Provoke Your Thinking – As I read Sandberg’s book, I found myself thinking a lot about how her stories and points applied to my own career as an executive and an executive coach as well as my life as a husband and a father. While there were many points she made that immediately resonated with me, there were others that caused me to question some of my assumptions. Her book also pointed out to me how my thinking and approach have evolved (hopefully) over time while flagging a few current blind spots for me as well.
Benefit from the Wisdom – Lean In is very well written. It’s simultaneously substantive and conversational. It’s an easy but important read with a lot of wisdom acquired through experience. Sandberg’s chapter on mentoring – both receiving it and giving it – is worth the price of the book by itself. She writes as if she’s a trusted colleague who’s giving you the benefit of the lessons learned from working with or being one of the top execs in organizations such as the World Bank, the U.S. Treasury Department, McKinsey, Google and Facebook. The opportunity to learn from her experience is gender neutral.
What’s your take? Have you read Lean In? Do you plan to? Based on what you’ve read about the book and Sheryl Sandberg so far, what takeaways do you have?