Even though we’ve discussed many of the leadership techniques highlighted Learning to Lead: What Really Works for Women in the Law, I realized there is more to cover. So Leadership Tuesdays will remain for a while as we discuss ways to effectively learn to lead.
I received a text from a good friend asking me if I had watched Sheryl Sandberg’s 60 Minute interview. I hadn’t. But I heard her interviewed on NPR and then I went back and watched some of the 60 Minutes interview. As most career women know, Sandberg is held out as the Holy Grail: Harvard undergrad, Chief of Staff to Treasury Secretary Summers, the first business unit general manager at Google in 2001, and then Chief Operating Officer at Facebook. She’s married with two kids and her book, Lean In, released this year.
I found the juxtaposition of her book and how it illustrates the yin and yang of both the Learning to Lead series and the We Are What He Calls Us bible study interesting and relevant. I highlighted in my introduction to We Are What He Calls Us that constantly chasing those promotions and achievements without being grounded in faith results in cycling between two harsh ends of a spectrum – pride (the yucky kind) and insecurity: “Let me emphasize that success is not negative or problematic if you are also walking in faith and deepening your relationship with God. The problem arises when you purse the award or the achievement over everything else. When the pursuit of success takes priority over examining whether or not God calls you to walk that road, you are in trouble….”
Sandberg highlights what a lot of career women, and moms, have struggled with – she discusses her struggle with guilt over not being around enough for her kids, her desire to avoid the “most likely to succeed” label in high school for fear she’d not have a date to prom, and how she ducked congratulations when she was named the Fifth Most Powerful Woman in the World by Forbes in 2011. Her interview certainly made her relatable to many of us with the exact same struggles as we achieve, or target, greater success in the workplace. Her book is admirable; in fact, I found several practical tips I could quote in Learning to Lead. Her goal is to get more women into power in America. Bravo.
However, you see the constant battle over what might generally be termed over and under confidence. She highlights not feeling like she belonged, that insecurity end of the spectrum, but also wanting to land the next best role, that superhero/I-can-do-anything-without-anyone end of the spectrum.
So where does your grounding come from? You can practice all the tips and tricks in the leadership play books but if you aren’t grounded in something constant, then your self-worth will constantly be hitched to an ever changing target. You must be centered by an immovable constant force. The Bible, while warning against boastful, selfish price, recognizes the value in being proud of good work. But it can not be a comparision against the women around you and against the yardstick created by those without a core faith.
Galatians 6 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.
Additionally, God delights in seeing you suceed at what you do as you work hard in the opportunities you are given.
Deuteronomy 28 – The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him…The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity…The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.
The most important reminder for me though as I seek to lead is to be clear what I’m leaning into. We have to Lean In to our faith and the strength of God’s hands holding us strong and guiding our path rather than leaning into changing and unstable direction from the other voices we encounter on this journey.