My Lean In Review is based on The Rubric.
I first read Lean In in 2018, had a false start second reading at the beginning of 2020, and finally got around to a thorough second reading at the beginning of March 2020. I finished re-reading it on March 5th, 2020.
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Lean In Review By The Rubric
Lean In Review – Arguments
Sandberg wrote a well researched, well cited book on a highly sensitive topic… Sexism, feminism, and how to get more women to make choices that advance women and women’s interests in business.
I’d go so far as to say this is a controversial topic, and that Sandberg had to be brave to even broach it.
Sandberg did an excellent job presenting her arguments. She kept it above the belt, acknowledged many of the counterarguments and alternative hypotheses she was sure to encounter, and delivered a well timed and well placed blow to those who maintain that a lack of women leadership in business is a non-issue.
If you’re going to attack her arguments in this book, you’d have to go back to the sources to do so. Her premises are well founded as far as I can tell (without researching her research), and she states them clearly and crisply.
I typically dislike too many citations, as the opportunity cost of going back to the sources to counter is so high, and I’d rather critique arguments on their face. But I can’t think about how to do this book – to write this book – and be taken seriously without all the citations.
Sandberg made strong claims, backed them up, balanced them, and then presented them in the least confrontational way possible.
And, she wasn’t just countering those who think sexism in business is a non-issue. She also took aim at those who think it is THE issue, and focused on what women are choosing for themselves that is counterproductive to eliminating sexism in business.
Regardless of your position on sexism, feminism, and female leadership in business, to ignore this work is to be ill-prepared for the argument at hand.
By The Rubric, Lean In scored “Excellent” for arguments.
Lean In Review – Practicality
This book is mostly challenging the way we think about women in the workplace and business, especially in leadership positions. It’s not meant to be a how-to for any particular goal, although there are some helpful hints along the way on what we might do to change our minds and behaviors.
At one point, I considered not reviewing this book because of its lack of practicality, but I couldn’t ignore its position on many lists I’ve encountered, and after several years it still maintains a high place on The List, so I decided I couldn’t (shouldn’t) ignore it either.
By The Rubric, Lean In scored “Decent” for practicality.
Lean In Review – Readability
This book is littered with citations, and yet somehow is super readable. I didn’t find the citations distracting or necessary to evaluate the arguments.
The writing supporting the purpose of the book is solid. I would not, however, say that the book was written by someone for whom writing is considered a “craft.” It is purposeful and well executed, but not beautiful.
By The Rubric, Lean In scored “Excellent” for readability.
Lean In Review – Enjoyability
There were a few chapters that pulled this grade down from 75%, but most of the chapters landed solidly at 75% and I think that’s worth noting.
I didn’t mind this book. It didn’t bore me. But there were definitely places where it failed to excite me. Where I didn’t find it particularly interesting or motivating.
And there were some spots where it frustrated me. That mostly happened when the logic faltered or it felt like the text transitioned into preaching/pleading instead of explaining and articulating.
By The Rubric, Lean In scored “Decent” for enjoyability.
Lean In Review – External Resources
Lean In was not written to sell anything but the ideas it contains. There were no references to external resources besides the citations. Therefore The Rubric was neutral on this aspect.
Lean In Review – Rhetoric
Lean In was written by the right person at the right time promoting only the ideas within its pages.
By The Rubric, Lean In scored “Excellent” for rhetoric.
Lean In Review – In Total
I wish the book Sheryl Sandberg felt she needed to write wasn’t about her “adjective” as a female COO of one of the largest companies in the world.
But it was.
And I wish my Lean In Review could fault her book for being unnecessary or untimely, but it can’t.
And since sexism and the challenges women face, internally and externally, are still facts of life for us of the female persuasion, I would say this book is an important – even critical – part of the conversation. For everyone, male, female, and other.
I think the book is worth reading as a whole, but if you were to read just one chapter, make it Chapter 7. It is one of the best chapters of any book I’ve graded thus far.
By The Rubric, Lean In scored “Excellent” in total.
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