Here’s What Sheryl Sandberg Can Teach Women in Business

Sheryl Sandberg is living proof that any woman can succeed in business. Discover how she flourished in a man’s world.

Sheryl Sandberg’s life is not something straight out of a fairytale. Instead of being a damsel in distress, she has chosen to become a corporate warrior who serves as a symbol of hope and inspiration to millions of women around the world.

How so?

As one of Silicon Valley’s most successful women, Sheryl is famous for holding executive positions in Google, Yahoo!, and Facebook. She is one of Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women in business. Plus, she also ranks #15 on the Forbes list of America’s Self-Made Women 2021.

But Sandberg’s most important work is not something you can find in her impressive resume.

It’s the fact that she is a strong advocate for women in leadership positions. She actively takes part in shaping the future of women in business and has published two books on the subject.

Her first book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, became an instant best-seller published in 2013. The book started an international movement that made feminism mainstream again and advocated for more women sitting at the table.

On the heels of grief, Sheryl Sandberg wrote her second book in 2017 and titled it Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Here, she discussed the events following the death of her loving husband, Dave Goldberg. Sandberg wrote the piece to point out how important a supportive partner is to career-building, among others.

Drawing upon these experiences, Sheryl Sandberg has many invaluable lessons to teach us about taking charge in our respective industries. Here are five lessons you should keep in mind as you enter and conquer the corporate world.

#1 – Fantasize About Your Career

Have you ever thought of finally quitting your boring office job to start a new and exciting adventure?

Have you been stuck daydreaming about that promotion you’ve wanting to receive for so long?

Are you jealous of your friend who has finally landed his dream job?

These are classic symptoms of something called professional stagnation. Unfortunately, Sheryl Sandberg says she has seen far too many people fall into this trap.

The good news is there’s an easy fix for this kind of problem, and that’s to allow yourself to fantasize about your career. Start having a long-term dream. Plan for it as much as you can. Then put your thoughts and words into action.

To help you get started, answer this question from Sheryl Sandberg: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

#2 – Stay Resilient Through Setbacks

Setbacks are part of human life. We all have to go through challenges that would test our hearts, minds, and souls. Sometimes, the only thing we can do is to wait for the storm to pass and move on.

Take it from Sheryl Sandberg herself.

Everything was going perfect in her life. But then things suddenly took a turn for the worse with the death of her husband in 2015. The former SurveyMonkey CEO died due to a mix of an accident and a heart problem at the age of 47, leaving his wife and two children to fend for themselves.

“We all face challenges. Some of them are huge and traumatic, and some of them are daily challenges. But we need resilience for all of it,” says Sandberg.

We may not experience the same traumatic event that happened to Sandberg over six years ago. But that does not mean we shouldn’t train ourselves to be resilient and power through all setbacks, especially in our careers.

Remember, when we hit rock-bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.

#3 – Be Confident in Your Achievements

“Feeling confident — or pretending that you feel confident — is necessary to reach for opportunities. It’s a cliche, but opportunities are rarely offered; they’re seized.”

This is one of the most important and controversial lessons taught by Sheryl Sandberg to women in business. She believes that women fight an internal battle and keep themselves from advancing because they aren’t as confident as men. Career women supposedly tend to undermine their capabilities and lower their expectations. But that just won’t do!

Like it or not, the corporate setting remains a man’s world. Even in the 21st century, there are still more men in positions of power than women.

Here are some data to back this up:

  • Despite the growing calls for diversity, Lorman reports that for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 85 women were promoted to the same position.
  • At the start of 2020, women only got 38% of manager-level positions worldwide.
  • In the 2020 Fortune 500 list, there were only 37 female CEOs as compared to 463 male CEOs.

That’s why it’s even more important for us women to stop doubting what we can do. Recognize your potential. Believe in yourself. Seize every opportunity to grow.

That’s what Sheryl Sandberg does, and look where it got her.

#4 – Follow the Platinum Rule

The Golden Rule has existed for centuries to guide people on how to treat others. Various versions of the Golden Rule have been popularized by famous figures like Confucius, Buddha, and even Jesus Christ during the Sermon on the Mount.

But Sheryl Sandberg found that sometimes this rule is no longer applicable. For her, a better way to handle social situations and show support to your loved ones is to follow the Platinum Rule.

The Platinum Rule dictates that you should treat others the way they want to be treated. This takes more effort because you must customize your reaction depending on a person’s circumstances and personality.

Sandberg adds that knowing what to do is just half of the trick. You must be willing to act on it, too. By doing so, you come off as someone who listens, engages, and takes charge. Those are already three qualities of a great leader!

As Sheryl Sandberg puts it:

“The act of just doing something is much better than the offer of what can I do.”

#5 – ‘Lean In’

The final piece of advice from Sheryl Sandberg is to ‘lean in’ to one another. This means acknowledging that you need support. While you have to embrace the challenges and risks of your job, you should know that you don’t have to do it alone.

For Sandberg, this became painfully obvious after losing her husband. Previously, she leaned on him to help balance her work and personal lives. But after he passed, Sandberg found herself leaning on other people for help.

Sandberg emphasizes that this must be done, especially by all women in the workplace. We already know that we are the minority. But that doesn’t mean we’re weak. We should stick together and support one another to gain mutual benefits at work.

Remember, Sandberg also once said that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Steer Your Career to Success

Sheryl Sandberg continues to prove that women belong in the workplace, especially in positions of power. She has also gone to great lengths to elevate the position of women in the corporate world.

Therefore it’s safe to say that Sandberg is one of the most popular icons of modern feminism. Her brand of feminism may not apply to all women, but it certainly appeals to those dreaming of climbing up the corporate ladder and smashing the walls of patriarchy one promotion at a time.

And if there’s anything Sandberg’s life has taught you, it’s that nothing is impossible if you truly believe in your potential and have a support system you can lean on.

If you want further guidance on how to apply Sandberg’s lessons to your specific industry, feel free to book my speaking services at your next event.