Influencing The F Factor


In the pursuit of a successful career, there are a few things which can cause us to stumble, trip and sometimes fall. Being a woman, there appears to be additional manholes which we encounter:

Female – those two letters F & E, make all the difference in the life of a woman

Facebook – whether you’re the subject of discussion or the Chief Operating Officer, you’re on the back foot copping criticism more so than favouritism

Feminist – seeking equality in the workforce, let alone in life, still appears to be a dirty word

Family – being the natural caregiver doubles the workload caring for children and the home.

Sheryl Sandberg, author of the still popular bestseller, Lean In, holds no bars. In her tell-all life story, from cradle to Facebook’s COO she reveals what it’s taken to become who she is. I’ve never encountered anyone who is so open and candid about life, especially a woman holding such a prestigious position.

Sheryl has gifted us with the licence to be vulnerable and have a voice at the table. Writing this book was Sheryl being ambitious and facing her fears: picture her writing this book, possibly ‘leaning in’ at the kitchen table, after she’d shared a meal and put the children to bed.


Are you this Authentic?


Being an authentic leader has been a very topical subject for the past ten years and Sheryl role models through every page (maybe too often for my liking) but I take my hat off to her for putting it all out there, as we do in the land of Facebook.

Given my recent read of The Wife Drought by Journalist, Anabelle Crabb, I became overly cautious reading Lean In’s lengthy Foreword by Belinda Hutchinson, Chairman of QBE Insurance Group Limited - I thought I was in for another lecture on the history of the woes of being a woman. However, I was immediately engaged with the first chapter devoted to closing the Leadership Ambition Gap, Sherly asks: WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WEREN'T AFRAID?

Sheryl reminds us of why we fall into these manholes, exploring why women are less likely to aspire to the powerful roles, believing that ambition is a dirty word and assuming that having it all vs losing it all equates to good employee vs responsible parent.

Lean In is a call to action, hence the reason why so many women have found it uplifting and inspiring. There’s even a Lean In Facebook page which you can join upon reading the book – sharing uplifting stories of the book being acted upon.

My five favourite pearls of wisdom:

·        Women need to be relentlessly pleasant when negotiating; smiling frequently, expressing appreciation and concern, invoking common interests, emphasising larger goals and approaching negotiations as problem-solving. All this appears like crossing a minefield backwards in high heels!

·        We need to withstand criticism. The cost of speaking your mind will inevitably offend someone – so allow yourselves to react emotionally and feel whatever anger or sadness being criticised arouses in us and then we should quickly move on… just like children do.

·        When you identify a weakness, do something about it. Turn to a coach to help correct it. Trying to overcorrect a weakness is a great way to find a middle ground.

·        Get a mentor and you will excel. This is a common message for aspiring talented people.  However, flip this: Excel and you will attract a Mentor; impress others and they will want to invest in you.

·        Sharing emotions builds deeper relationships. Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about. To really care about others, we have to understand them – what they like and dislike, what they feel as well as think.


As leaders, you can exercise leadership by supporting, encouraging and role modelling the F Factors:

Fraternity – Create your own women@google to help each other out: gather a group of women, share a meal, practise boasting about your successes and then share these women’s success stories in your own circles

Fearless – rid yourself of debilitating norms and stereotypes; tell yourself that you can do a job even if you only possess 40% of the job requirements (it’s the only time that I suggest you be like a man!)

Face time – leverage off 21st century technology and stop measuring facetime but focus on the results. Which goes in hand with …

Flexibility – offer flexibility together with accountability, encourage parents to be with children, adults to be with elderly parents … allow them to work around what’s important to them and they’ll respect you

Failures - reflect, learn and see it as an opportunity as you spruik your successes

Fast – the faster we act to break the cycle of the patterns we’ve inherited from our parents e.g. doing more housework than our partners, we will reach greater equality.

Forward – look to the future, be forward and be bold.


If you haven’t kept up to date with Sheryl’s life, in May 2015, her husband Dave died suddenly while on holiday. The world of followers were in shock after Sheryl had declared her love for him in this book – in particular how reliant she was on him to continue in her successful career.

On the anniversary of his death, this year, Sheryl addressed UC Berkeley, it was her first public discussion about life after Dave – being challenged to the core, surviving through adversity, relying on your muscle of resilience and realising that we must show gratitude for the joy that there is in your life.

This YouTube, from Sheryl’s own account is a must watch, just like her book is a must read for every woman and man and our children.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!