Women and Leadership: Sheryl Sandberg and the Facebook IPO
I’m a fan of Sheryl Sandberg – the COO of Facebook and much of the reason that, coming into its IPO, the company is valued at up to $100 billion.
Let’s face it, Mark Zuckerberg might have had a great idea – but he didn’t know how to turn it into a great company. Sandberg did and that’s exactly what she accomplished. She took the concept and turned it into a juggernaut.
A lot of how she did so was by looking for, at and to women – both within the company and in its partnerships with advertisers and other revenue-generating relationships.
I started focusing on Sandberg because of her speech to the Barnard College graduating class last year. In it – and in others – she has as good as become the voice of women empowering themselves in this new generation of up and comers.
And that’s why one particular segment of the New York Times article about Sandberg and the Facebook IPO struck me as so very, very interesting. It shows the other face of women and the way they disempower each other.
It comes from a comment made by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, president of the Center for Talent Innovation and a director of the Gender and Policy Program at Columbia University. She said:
“I am a huge fan of [Sandberg’s] accomplishments and think she’s a huge role model in some ways, but I think she’s overly critical of women because she’s almost implying that they don’t have the juice, the chutzpah, to go for it….I think she’s had a golden path herself, and perhaps does not more readily understand that the real struggles are not having children or ambition. Women are, in fact, fierce in their ambition, but they find that they’re actually derailed by other things, like they don’t have a sponsor in their life that helps them go for it.”
And there you have it. The typically passive-aggressive, indirect way that women take other women down – and do a much better job of it than men ever can.
For women reading Hewlett’s comments, the underlying message is, “You might want to listen to Sandberg but don’t ever think that you can achieve what she’s achieved because she had all the breaks – from money to the right husband to the right mentors. She’s an anomaly so lower your personal expectations and you’ll be just fine.”Continued on the next page