GLS Session 2: Sheryl Sandberg


I didn't know much about Sheryl Sandberg before her talk today other than that she is an executive leader in Facebook. Bill Hybels interviewed her in what was essentially two unique topics: gender equality and grief. I found her talk to be deeply profound and insightful. Also, kudos to Bill Hybels for conducting a powerful interview with sensitivity. 

Gender Equality: 

"When you see a little girl being called 'bossy' say, 'she's not bossy, she has executive leadership potential."

Women have five percent of all fortune five hundred CEO jobs, twenty five percent of congress. Still not equitable.

"Recognize the small and unconscious biases that we all (including women) have against women."

We interrupt women more than men. Beware assigning office housework.

We blame women for not doing housework and child care perfectly and we applaud men for doing any of it at all.  

Whoa. I think this is true. She spoke about natural guilt and how we pile it on and how our standards are so radically different. 


Sandberg shared about her husband suddenly dying on a vacation in 2015. My immediate thought was "whoa, that's not very long ago" and yet she had some amazing nuggets to share about grief and moving toward hurting people:

Sheryl's Stages of Grief:

1. Personal

We blame ourselves for things that aren't our fault and things that are our fault, but it is human to make mistakes. I blamed myself for my husband's death, even in illogical ways. "If only I had become a doctor, I would have seen the signs." Even if it is my fault, which it wasn't, there is no point in self blame.

2. Pervasiveness:

Grief invades every corner of your life until you start to believe it is everywhere. 'Everything is terrible.' Actually, my kids are alive. Actually, I have a lot of good in my life. Her friend, a psychologist invited her to consider, 'You should think about what could be worse.' It helped her get perspective on her pain.  Grief is not as pervasive as it tells you it is.

Here is why I loved this part – Sheryl was in no way downplaying how awful and paralyzing her grief is – she was actually quite vulnerable sharing her inner world, she was showing how grief can invade but doesn't get the last word. 

3. Permanence:

It won't be like this forever, but it makes you think your life will never be good again.

'Don't ask how much resilience you have. Resilience is a muscle. Ask how you can build it.'

– Many talk about PTSD. It is real and must be treated, but Sheryl wanted to talk about 'post traumatic growth' – trauma can make us grow, it's not always just stress and trouble.

– Joy is something you have to look for. 'I would have joy after Dave's death and feel guilty, but you have to go on the hunt or joy and my kids deserve moments of joy.'

– After Dave died, People were so afraid of saying the wrong thing they didn't say anything at all. Now I know how to speak to people who are hurting.

– People who are battling a huge personal challenge-  they need relief, yes, but they also need to be counted on. It was very important to me, while I was deep in my grief to be counted on.

– At the end of every day write down 3 moments of joy. Happiness is in the small things.

Final Question from Bill: "How do you grow as a leader?" 

"If you want to grow as a leader, make it easy for people to give you real feedback about yourself. People aren't used to giving candid feedback to the people they work for. You have to build an environment where people can be honest so you can grow."

2 Replies to “GLS Session 2: Sheryl Sandberg”

  1. Steve, one of my go to people is Dr Berne Brown of Houston. She had years of research on guilt and shame and how women and men process differently. She’s gifted and her info is helpful and always spot on

    Sent from my iPhone



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