Sandberg’s manifesto has received mixed reviews. I have only read excerpts and reviews but I have added to my Kindle. Trait research decades ago found confidence a key factor in leadership, be it the confidence to lead a large organization or confidence to lead a small team. Developing confidence, being confident, regardless of gender, is important to being an effective leader.
But I agree with those who counter organizations should be more proactive in creating and supporting leader development for women. Historically men (mostly Caucasians) have dominated our organizations and continue to do so. A disproportionate percentage of women drop out of corporate America as they near the top level. The predominance of men in leadership positions perpetuates male cultures where masculine norms (and roles) are pervasive --and sometimes decisive. When a woman rises near the top, the question may become, is she one of the boys? The "boys" have the rules they play by, the games they play, the subjects they talk about. Will the woman fit into the group? Business is conducted on the golf course, in the locker room, on hunting trips. And then there is the comfort factor, will we be comfortable with this woman around? Will we be comfortable with her on our executive retreat in the Caribbean?
Compounding this is the fact that as you go higher in organizations, norms or group pressures tend to become stronger. And they extend beyond the workday. Those who lead our organizations are available 24/7. There are social engagements, dinners, parties, plus the work that must get done, the decisions that must be made. You will entertain, you will be at these functions, you will see that our main client has a great time. When you are "on" all the time, disconnects between thought and deed are more likely to be revealed. Your actions must fit the group norms or you will not remain part of the group.
In spite of this male culture, some women break the glass ceiling. The long term answer to the predominance of masculine norms is more women in our organizations, women in positions of leadership. Perhaps more “leaning in” could make the difference. Sheryl Sandberg thinks so.
Image of Sandberg by Dan Farber from http://www.flickr.com/photos/farber/2533555758/
Used with permission http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/deed.en