Women entrepreneurs, leaders and overall bawses are constantly on the go to change the corporate status of women. One such inspiration is Sheryl Sandberg, who has given career women everywhere some food for thought with her rise to a leadership role in one of the biggest conglomerates of the world. In celebration of her birthday today (28th August), we take stock of the lessons in leadership by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Did You Know?
Sheryl Sandberg is on the Forbes ‘Billionaires 2020’ list, was #18 on their ‘Power Women 2019’ list and stood at #12 on their ‘America’s Self-Made Women 2019’ list.
From defending the social media giant during the Cambridge Analytica scandal to tackling the ongoing data privacy risks for its 2 billion users, Facebook has found a steadying MVP (most valuable player) in Sheryl Sandberg. At 50, she is not just among the top brass at the conglomerate, she’s also cited as Mark Zuckerberg’s second-in-command through the company’s highs and lows.
Lessons Every Girl Boss Can Learn About Leadership From Sheryl Sandberg
“We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.”
1. Invest In Personal Branding
The concept of personal branding is very relevant for female entrepreneurs, as women still have to self-define themselves in the world of gender stereotypes and leadership gap. The idea is to start thinking strategically about the value you create, curate, and distribute. And there are two aspects to personal branding:
- Outer: Dress code, speech style and skills, and self-presentation
- Inner: Self-perception, future goals, aspirations, and self-identification
The key is to understand what elements define you as a brand, acknowledging their value and communicating this to the world. A strong personal brand, that showcases a list of achievements and not just gratitude, can open the door to new business and career opportunities.
“Build resilience in yourselves. When tragedy or disappointment strikes, know that you have the ability to get through absolutely anything. I promise you do. As the saying goes, we are more vulnerable than we ever thought, but we are stronger than we ever imagined.”
2. Take The Human Approach
Sheryl Sandberg continues to balance vulnerability with professionalism as she reaches new heights of success. “People need to feel supported and understood at work”, she says. Expressing your true identity as a leader is in no way hampering your privacy or status. Connecting with employees, from the newest ones to those who work with you closely, is what creates a powerful impact. Sharing professional as well as personal challenges is a way to inspire others. It ultimately benefits you as a leader to see your experiences through the lens of how they may benefit others. Learn to be more empathetic and understanding of situations and people.
“The first thing I would tell men and women is that biases are real, but you can correct them — on every level. For example, when women are getting interrupted, you can interrupt the interrupter, even if you are the junior manager. You can see the biases and correct them.”
3. Break The Bias
Sandberg’s books and thought leadership have revolved around women, women in the workplace, and more recently, resilience and how to tackle challenges. A major change that Indian workplaces need to see is unity among the women staff. Shattering the glass ceiling is not limited to the mere word: ‘Representation’. It is a visible change in leadership roles, male vs female ratio in the workplace, and equal pay for all. And women in charge are bringing about that change, from hiring more women to making their voices heard.
“When you look at successful women, they have other women who have supported them, and they’ve gotten to where they are because of those women.”
4. Build A Community By Networking
The book ‘Lean In’ by Sandberg created waves among women everywhere wanting to take the first step. Many created Lean In Circles for being able to bounce ideas off others and being part of a high-performance team. Connecting regularly with inspirational women with dreams, goals and ideas is the way to learn and grow together. From offering mental support to helping you meet the right people to kickstart your projects, networking has been helping women leaders and entrepreneurs tremendously. Lean In circles makes up one of the largest grassroots organisations of women anywhere. They’re self-organising, getting raises and promotions. They are changing jobs and paving the way for future female leaders.
“Most companies have men in high-level positions. If there could be real female equity with an equal number of women on boards and in C-suites, it would change the work culture much faster than anything else.”
5. Be Your Own Brand Ambassador
Companies are now seeing the value and are often investing in their key leaders to build their personal brand. Sheryl Sandberg’s increased profile visibility has been an asset for Facebook. Her championing of the social media giant has brought comfort and stability in the times of uncertainty presented by Mark Zuckerberg’s cautious style. When an organisation is performing well due to solid thought leadership like Sandberg’s, it proves to be beneficial for all. So be your own rising star that believes in their personal brand and be the ambassador for your hard work and accomplishments.
Sheryl Sandberg is an excellent example of women leaders bringing about a change for good. Her support of the Platinum Rule, ‘treat others as they want to be treated’ plays an important role in her journey. But what makes her lessons and thoughts stand out from the crowd is her ‘Start growing and keep learning’ rule. And it certainly is visible as she continues to apply her own lessons for a successful future on the horizon.