We’re loving on Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook Inc., because she knows what we know about professional development. And she’s talking about bringing your whole self to work so much, we’re excited to induct her into the Whole Wide Work Hall of Fame as the inaugural member. Hats off to Ms. Sandberg!
Starting today, the Hall of Fame will distinguish prominent figures who promote the ideals of engaging your whole self at work. Think someone should be inducted? Tell us who, and we’ll investigate, with a shout out to you!
So what’s the fuss about Sandberg? We’ve been wanting to write about her since Brad Stone wrote a profile in Businessweek a short while ago. The article referenced the TED Talk from December 2010 in which she spoke about women and leadership, and still somehow we couldn’t find the hook we were seeking to feature her on WWW.
Until now. In the mid-July edition of the New Yorker, Ken Auletta wrote about her in the context of men in Silicon Valley. The way she manages her self as a worker and what she demonstrates about bringing your whole self to work is pretty brilliant. From the story:
David Fischer, Facebook’s vice-president of advertising and global operations, recounts a performance review of a female executive that he and Sandberg conducted. Fischer says that he told the executive numerous times that she wasn’t assertive enough, but he felt that she wasn’t hearing him. “Sheryl jumped in after I finished and said, ‘I don’t know what you’re feeling, but I can imagine what it might be. Let me tell you about when I was younger.’ ” She recounted her own insecurities, and, he says, “I just watched this woman go from sitting there listening to me but just hearing a bunch of business-type words. . . . It just opened up the whole conversation.”
It gets better:
Molly Graham, who worked with Sandberg at Google and followed her to Facebook, where she now helps produce mobile Facebook products, says, “With Sheryl, everything is personal. There isn’t a separation with this thing we do at work and everything else.” Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice-president of global communications and public policy, and a close confidant who came over from Google, says, “The people who are her friends at work are her friends outside work.”
Conventional wisdom holds that getting so close to employees can compromise objectivity and the ability to make tough management decisions. “I dramatically disagree with that,” Sandberg says. “I believe in bringing your whole self to work. We are who we are. When you try to have this division between your personal self and your professional self, what you really are is stiff. . . . That doesn’t mean people have to tell me everything about their personal lives. But I’m pretty sharing of mine.” Being open with your employees, she believes, means that nothing is a surprise to them—even if you fire them.
Reading this makes us want to sing and dance! She’s a total proponent of what we espouse, and she’s the inspiration, really, for creating the Hall of Fame.
Not surprisingly, we aren’t the only ones feting Sandberg. Barnard College invited her to speak at the commencement exercises this year in May, and we love what she told graduates. “Don’t let your fears overwhelm your desire,” she said. Check out the full transcript plus video of her address.
Pat Mitchell, a colleague of Sandberg’s, states that in addition to her role as the social network’s COO, and in the context of the ever-powerful old boys network, “Sheryl is putting together a new-girls network inside Silicon Valley.”
Doesn’t she kind of make you want to work in corporate America?