I have received an assignment from the International Leaders and Organizational Behaviour course that I am currently completing. The assignment is to identify the leader of an international company, and to make a case for a particularly outstanding individual who can serves as an inspiration for the company’s cadre of leaders.
Given that today is International Women’s Day, it seems only pertinent that I discuss Sheryl Sandberg.
Sandberg is of course the COO of Facebook, and rose to prominence as Chief of Staff to the US Secretary of the Treasury during Bill Clinton’s presidential terms in office. Here she worked on forgiving debt in the developing world during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, and in 2001 became Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google. In both of these roles she demonstrated a deep appreciation of cultural differences and practices whilst very much keeping her eye on the global needs of the organisation for which she was working. Since 2008 Sandberg has worked as COO of Facebook, and has transformed its approach to advertising and sales. In 2008 Facebook’s revenue stood at US $272 Million; in 2014 the figure was US $12.5 Billion. Sandberg also takes a strong stance on the issue of gender equality, in both the workplace and in society in general. Her 2013 book, Lean in: Women, Work and the Will to Lead is heavily centred upon encouraging women to pursue business leadership careers, in which Sandberg states that “…a truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.”
Sandberg embodies all of the principles that mark out a successful leader:
- She has developed her own leadership style and is very at ease in articulating her opinions to a variety of observers. Her background in the US Treasury and Google makes her ideally suited to increasing revenue in such a globally recognisable organisation as Facebook
- She personifies the deceptively simple Facebook mission statement of making the world more open and connected, particular in terms of female empowerment
- She operates in a truly global enterprise, and is highly adept at leading across cultures and territories
In short, Sheryl Sandberg is articulate, opinionated, operating highly successfully in a highly male dominated world, and the true embodiment of a modern, adaptive leader.