In Silicon Valley, in 2014, only 11% of executive positions were held by women. In 2016, ten large technology companies did not employ a single black woman [while] six did not have a single female executive. It's clear that Silicon Valley has a diversity issue and that more companies need to be aware of this, report on it, and build more diverse teams from the ground up, but how do women excel in a male-dominated culture that seems to be working against them?
Facebook's COO and author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg has encouraged women to feel empowered in their careers and to take control of their success. By climbing the Silicon Valley ladder and encouraging other women to do the same, Sheryl Sandberg's leadership traits embody courage and tenacity. Sheryl's advice for women entrepreneurs helps guide future women to break through the glass ceilings in the working world. Here are four tips from Sheryl Sandberg’s leadership style to help you excel in your career as a woman no matter where your career path takes you:
Seek and Speak Your Truth
"Authentic communication is not always easy, but it is the basis for successful relationships at home and real effectiveness at work."
In Sheryl Sandberg's book, she has a whole chapter on seeking and speaking your truth. She touches on several ways to communicate honestly, one being "less is often more" and "combining appropriateness with authenticity." As a woman, Sheryl shares how fear can cause hesitation when speaking ones' truth. But, in business, it's important to voice your opinion respectfully, without the fear of bringing attention to yourself or criticizing someone else's point of view.
Being honest and vocalizing your opinion will encourage other women to do the same and contribute to the diversity of thought in a discussion. Bringing your authentic self to work every day will allow you to flourish because you can create more meaningful relationships with your colleagues while bringing a different perspective to the business that will contribute to successful decisions, reflecting all points of view.
Sit at the Table
"For a woman, feeling like a fraud is a symptom of a greater problem. We consistently underestimate ourselves. Multiple studies in multiple industries show that women often judge their performance as worse than it is, while men judge their performance as better than it is."
Sheryl Sandberg's leadership style is clear, make everyone feel as if they belong. Sheryl recounts a meeting where four women sat as spectators on the sidelines of the meeting instead of sitting at the table and contributing. Sherly encouraged these women to join her at the table noting this internal barrier and how it affected their behavior in the room.
Women need to show up, not only to the table in a meeting but in their careers. Sheryl's advice is to fake confidence if you don't feel it at the moment. Confidence allows you to reach for opportunities you would otherwise feel underqualified for or to voice ideas you've been holding back. Sitting at the table and faking confidence until you believe it can help you stand out as a leader and propel you forward in your career.
Success and Likeability
"If you do please everyone, you aren't making enough progress."
In this chapter of her book, Sheryl touches on research that proves success and likeability are negatively correlated for women, while positively correlated for men. This truth makes it difficult for women to own their success and negotiate on their behalf. It's important to be proud of and to celebrate your success while advancing your career without the fear of pleasing others throughout every step of the way. It may be uncomfortable to see yourself as a powerful woman, a leader, and an entrepreneur in the making, but if you want to be successful in your career, you need to be your own best advocate.
The Myth of Doing It All
"Trying to do it all and expecting that it all can be done exactly right is a recipe for disappointment. Perfection is the enemy."
In this section of her book, Sheryl brings to light the importance of work-life balance and guilt management. There is no way to do it all at work while living a fulfilling life at home and it's essential to identify your real priorities so that you can focus on what matters. With the internet, it can be easy to take your work home with you and work at all hours of the night without seeing the effect this has on your life. But, you can make small changes like deleting the apps you use to communicate at work off your phone or leaving at the same time from work every day to make your boundaries clear to others. If you begin answering emails at 7 pm, your coworkers will expect that they'll be able to get ahold of you again at that time, so you have to set boundaries, so you can begin focusing on what matters to you.
Sheryl states, "If I had to embrace a definition of success, it would be that success is making the best choices that we can...and accepting them." You will make choices every day, and you can choose to spend that extra hour of your life at the office or with your friends and family. Sometimes, these choices won't always be clear, but make the right choice for you and stick to it.
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This Online MBA program will build your confidence so that you can sit at the table in a meeting, communicate authentically with a newfound confidence in organizational strategy, and negotiate to get to the next level in your career. It's time to take Sheryl Sandberg’s leadership advice and build an international network of contacts while investing in your education and career growth.