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Did Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg Write the Book Lean In to Address Her Guilt?

Executive Summary

  • Sheryl Sandberg proposes that she has an important vision for women to move into leadership positions.
  • But, then in an interview, she says something odd about why she did this.

Introduction

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook. She has been a major proponent of placing women into leadership positions. However, in an interview, she made a peculiar statement about why she wrote her book Lean In.

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This is the book we will be discussing, called Lean In, written by Sheryl Sandberg.

Sandberg’s Lack of Reasoning

Sheryl Sandberg does not have anything interesting or unique to say on women’s topics in leadership roles. The method Sandberg uses for presenting her ideas is simply making assertions like “it is time for XYZ.” How did we determine that it was time for this or that?

Sandberg also makes assertions without providing the evidence to support her contentions. As I cover in detail in the article Facebook’s Hypocrisy on Workers and Discrimination, Sandberg either relies on references that don’t prove what she says they do, relies on inferior sources – like McKinsey, and generally makes unsubstantiated assertions about everything improving as soon as women move into leadership.

As there is no evidence behind what Sandberg asserts, the question arises, why besides the fact that Sandberg is a powerful executive, did Sandberg write Lean In?

This video analysis seems to go some way to explaining why.

While being interviewed, Sandberg states that she feels so guilty about her choices (for being a high powered executive and most likely having nannies raise her kids) and that every woman she knows feels guilty that she wrote a book about it. 

In the video, she states..

I feel guilty a lot (for not being around my children a lot), you know, I think I am a little intimidated, to be a little honest. Then I think because we all feel a little bit insecure about our own choices, we get pitted against each other. Every woman I know feels guilty about the choices they have made. I feel guilty. In fact, I feel so guilty I wrote a book about it.

Wait on a second. Sandberg wrote Lean In because she truly thinks that women need to take more leadership positions, which will lead to better outcomes for society — or because she is trying to justify her decisions to put family second and her career first?

This admission goes a long way to explaining why she has concluded first and then backward engineered the data to support this view.

What is Lean In About Again?

The book Lean In is not about how Sheryl Sandberg feels guilty about choosing a high powered career over her family. The book is about how women need to push for leadership positions — which apparently will end up with them feeling guilty about the choices they have made?

This book is then inconsistent.

It seems to be Sandberg making herself feel better about her choices. Who is this book for exactly? Is this a book for Sandberg or a book advising women what to do?

The person providing analysis in the video states the following upon playing that clip.

There you go. She says the reason she has for writing the book is to validate herself and her own life choices. Why is this a problem? So she is looking out for the interests of Sheryl Sandberg, billionaire CEO. The problem is she is destroying the interactions between men and women at large.

Sandberg Restates the False Wage Gap

This video also shows Sandberg irresponsibly supporting the wage gap myth, which is only based upon average earnings of employed women versus men and does not account for hours per week worked, different professions, and countless other differences that explain differential pay between the sexes.

What gap is Sandberg not interested in discussing?

Sandberg’s Selective Concern Around Wage Gaps

Sandberg will restate the faux male-female wage gap while not discussing the gap between CEOs and workers. This degree of the gap, where CEOs are now making more than 500x the typical workers, is a form of control fraud — where the executives steal from the company.

Even as a billionaire, Sandberg wants to focus on an illusory area, which, even if true, would be small potatoes compared to how much the executive class is pulling out of companies. If US executive compensation were brought into line with historical standards, all of the employees — both male and female could receive enormous raises. However, Sandberg’s money has squirreled away is money that cannot be used to pay workers.

How Sandberg Wants The Term Bossy Converted Into “Leadership Skills”

In the video, Sandberg also states.

“This is deeply personal for me, I want ever little girl who is told she is bossy, to be told you have leadership skills.”

Does Sandberg think this is a reasonable translation of the accusations being bossy? I ask because I don’t think that a group of either men or women would accept the translation of “bossy” into “leadership skills.”

Note to Sandberg, people that are told they are bossy normally don’t have leadership skills. They, instead, are overbearing. Many bossy people do so when they are not the boss or employer of someone, and telling someone they are bossy is a way to get them back off. But here again, regarding how this is personal for Sandberg, how many times has Sandberg been told she is bossy?

Let’s talk about Sandberg’s communication style.

Sandberg condescends to her audience by telling them, “it is time” for this or that thing, without providing evidence or by presenting concocted evidence to support whatever she happens to want.

All of this leads me to conclude that it is straightforward to see people telling Sandberg that she is overbearing and bossy. In the video, Sandberg states..

Because I was told I was bossy.

The egotism in this statement is rather jaw-dropping. Imagine any of the unflattering things about yourself, and then writing a book to in part try to have these unflattering characteristics turned into a positive.

But Sandberg wants ALL bossy girls and women to be encouraged to take on leadership roles. However, are the people that are just overbearing and bossy?

Sandberg wants girls and women who irritate other people to the degree that they call them bossy to the elevated into leadership. This seems to be a way for Sandberg to PERSONALLY (it’s deeply personal for her) to whitewash her overbearing and controlling behavior into being a positive thing.

Conclusion

Sandberg had a tremendous set of baises before writing the book Lean In. Sandberg wrote Lean In, not because she moved from the evidence to a conclusion, but by having her own personal reason for writing the book for making herself feel better, and then backward engineering evidence to support how she came up with the conclusion before the fact.