Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, previously served as Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google and before that was Chief of Staff for the United States Secretary of Treasury. She is the Author of the best-selling book, Lean In. She was ranked #16 on Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business list, she was named one of the 25 Most Influential People on the Web by Businessweek and has many more honors to her name (Wikipedia). Clearly, Sandberg knows a thing or two about leadership. Certain leadership qualities of Sheryl Sandberg have enabled her to truly distinguish herself, and they are qualities that are worth emulating for any leader.
3 Sheryl Sandberg Leadership Qualities
Team Player – Sheryl Sandberg is all about team effort. She speaks fondly of every team she has joined from Google to Facebook and others. Team spirit has even been at the very heart of her motivation to write the book Lean In and launch the Lean In movement. The whole concept of the book and movement is to encourage fellow female professionals to “lean in” to their goals and achieve. As mentioned in her interview with Katie Couric, Sandberg and her Lean In team have established “Lean In Circles,” which are online communities offering community for female professionals. She describes Lean.org as a global community where people can talk openly about pay for women, work life balance and various issues. The movement also helps women form groups of 8 to 10 people that are a support group. From A to B, Lean In is all about joining together as a team. And most recently she is even teaming up with Beyonce for a Ban Bossy Campaign. Operating with a team mentality is vital for all leaders, and Sandberg has that down.
Compassionate – Her compassion was visible back in her early career when she chose a path of public service in the government. In interviews when she talks about the evolution of her career, it’s clear she thought she would always be involved in non-profit organizations. But even in her transition to the technology field, Sandberg was still drawn by a desire to help people. In an Inc interview, she talks about the power of technology to help people connect and how that ability has improved people’s lives. She wanted to be a part of something powerful in changing lives for the better. Even one of Sandberg’s critics, Princeton Professor, Anne-Marie Slaughter, describes her work on the Lean In book as “compassionate, funny, honest and likable.”
Ambitious – In her career, Sheryl has always kept her eyes on big goals. She’s never backed down because of fear or intimidation. That’s evident in her accomplishments and role as COO at Facebook. But this passion to dream big goes beyond her biography and stretches into the “Lean In” movement. Sheryl published her book titled Lean In and launched the movement to encourage women to discuss their work life situations and how to succeed. Sandberg values ambition and personal fulfillment so highly that she hopes to use the Lean In movement to help others overcome their fears and succeed too. Sandberg has faced heavy criticism, such as Reva Seth’s statement in a Huffington Post article comparing Sandberg to Gwyneth Paltrow, “Ultimately, their stories and advice are more aspirational than inspirational — and, I would add, actually make the struggles that real working mothers face even worse.” Despite those who reject her ideas, Sandberg sticks to her guns. She doesn’t let critics, or her own insecurities stand in the way.
Leadership isn’t a cookie cutter word. The term doesn’t only refer to men. And leadership takes courage. Being able to influence change involves taking time to understand one’s personal values, processing feelings effectively, efficiently working in teams, communicating openly and being persistent in seeking growth. These are qualities everyone is capable of attaining. Leadership is not outside of any person’s grasp. In Sandberg’s words, the questions is “What would you do, if you weren’t afraid?”
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