Sheryl Sandberg, President Obama and the Importance of Sitting at the Table

Okay, let me start by saying that I have no idea whether Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, and President Obama have ever met.

What I do know is that in Michael Lewis' fascinating article in Vanity Fair about President Obama's decision-making processes, the President made the case for a point that Sheryl Sandberg has been making for women for quite a while now:

Sit at the table.

In Lewis' article, he tells a story about a discussion that was going on in the White House Situation Room regarding what to do about Libya when, not satisfied with the answers and options he was being given by the Big Players (who were all at the table), the President began asking those who were not at the table - the junior, support types - what their thinking was.

That was great - but, let's face it, how often does that happen? Pretty much never.

That's where Sheryl Sandberg comes in - because one of her key messages to women is and has been exactly that:

Sit at the table.

She's right. Too often women, for a variety of reasons, don't take their seat at the table. Even when it's offered.

And that makes it worse. Because, very often, a seat at the table - literally and figuratively -  is offered to women and they turn it down.

As Sandberg said in her TED talk (which is wonderful):
"No one gets to the corner office by sitting on the side, not at the table. And no one gets the promotion if they don't think they deserve their success or they don't even understand their success." (emphasis mine)
I have no idea what the gender mix was in the Situation Room that day with the President - but I do know how rare it is that a person in the chorus gets the chance to sing the lead...no matter what the industry.

So, women, learn from Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Obama - because they're both telling you the same thing, albeit from different perspectives:

Sit at the table.  Grab a chair...and I mean grab it...and take your rightful place.

You have so much to offer. It's time for you to shine the light you deserve on yourself - because no one else will.
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Read:
Obama's Way by Michael Lewis (Vanity Fair)
Watch:
Sheryl Sandberg: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders (TED)