Many women — and men, even — articulate in playing along that they are empathetic to “leaning in.” In actuality their actions and words speak the total opposite. As a 30-year-old female professional, it is outstandingly frustrating when there’s a lack of integrity from upper management “Sheryl Sandbergions” whose actions are hypocritical, no matter how well-intentioned they are.
Here are a few scenarios that I’ve personally been stuck with, and how — instead of getting angry — I imagined Sheryl Sandburg applauding me and you (if you applied them, too).
SCENARIO: Sandberg says that with under-performing employees that bosses should, “Help them and get out of their way.”
I was asked by the editorial team to remedy a social media strategy, but when I asked my boss if she had time to discuss the situation, she flat out said “no” through her headphones. I went ahead and took initiative, taking care of the problem, and then CC’d my boss on what had been solved since she prefers emails as her main form of communication.
When she received the email, she turned around (because she sits behind me), and reamed me out in public — in the middle of Cubilcleland — where she said that I had no true strategy behind the decision and that I had to consult her first.
LEANING IN: Instead of getting defensive and then mentioning that I had originally asked for her direction, I asked if we could talk somewhere in private instead. I then calmly asked her her how she would like for her to me to handle the situation next time, and who I should go to for help if she’s unavailable. I then apologized in person and then took the rest of the day as a personal day as we both needed space from one another.
As horrible as this sounds, sometimes you need to over-validate people — especially your bosses until they can see the kick ass work you do on your own. I took Sandberg’s advice that would be better for my boss: “Help her and then get out of her way.”
SCENARIO: One of Sandberg’s chapters focuses on “not asking anyone to be your mentor.”
My graduate degree is in teaching and, this one was difficult for me to swallow jumping into the corporate world. One of my interview questions at my current company was, “What were your expectations of this position?” And of course I said: “I would love a mentor to guide me.”
Except, I didn’t get that.
I had mentioned to the vice president in my marketing department that it was difficult to receive that promised mentorship from my director. My VP (another “Sandbergion”) offered to mentor me, until the boss I had previously mentioned was to navigate that role.
This female “Sandbergion” has also didn’t have the time to teach me the items assured with this new professional role I was taking on. And then I realized this: I was putting the idea of mentor on a pedestal.
LEANING IN: Instead, find your support group; they are your mentors. Men or women, openly talking to your select few who help emotionally and logically navigate work politics. I want to distinguish something: Don’t gossip. Talking through work politics is not only is it beyond cathartic, but you’ll find kindred spirits and learn more about other departments than otherwise.
There are other examples that I’d love to share, like openly taking risks, not caring what you say (objectively), or not taking things personally with your boss (or those passive aggressive co-workers) — but those are little tidbits from Sandberg that’s helped me keep my “corporate sanity.”
Just let your actions speak. Oh, and take those personal days.