I’d like to take a closer look at the notion of “leaning in.” As a phrase, it has extraordinary resonance. I’d like to “lean in” to the phrase itself – by which I mean, embrace it – and in doing so, trust (or, lean into it) because none of us can succeed if we fail to trust and thus hold ourselves back.
Several years ago, I was playing Monopoly with my then ten-year-old son. He was having so much fun – mortgaging properties he just acquired, suggesting extravagant trades and building little empires. Meanwhile, I sat there counting my cash, worrying whether I should buy a utility. I had to laugh at myself, but it nicely illustrates the Lean In dilemma. My son knew instinctively that, as the lottery tagline says: “You can’t win if you don’t play.”
Women are famous for being reluctant to treat friends as work possibilities for fear of appearing imposing or manipulative. But, sidelining ourselves from cross-pollination diminishes the chances that we will stay in the game, much less succeed. Watching my son relish every turn and bold move, I was reminded that enjoyment is infectious. More importantly, failure to take appropriate risks – to lean in – diminishes how engaged (and engaging) we are. When we trust and assert ourselves, we do better because we are not second-guessing from the margins.
Equally critical for me is not only the reminder to lean in, but that women leaders must help ensure when other women take the risk of leaning in, the world that meets them is hospitable, fair and receptive.
Leaning in requires an act of faith. We should all make sure that trust isn’t misplaced.