Leaning 'Til You're Dizzy

The Book (image c/o wired.com)
Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook gives advice to women in government and industry - she says they need to 'lean in' to demonstrate their abilities. Sheryl has come in for some criticism about asking women in management to act like clones of men in management. However, I love this idea. I don't know whether it will break the glass ceiling, but I do know it is hard to get a job done when you are leaning back. And it is hard to reflect when you are leaning forward.

I propose two complementary and critical states: Leaning in to get the work done. And leaning out to think, really think.

I am leaning in now - as I type I am leaning forwards. I also do this when I am totally engaged in a meeting - I lean forwards and pay close attention to what people say, and I project my voice into the mix.

I also want to promote leaning out. I just leant out to think about how I could phrase this idea. I lean out to get some space between me and what I've just written, so I can better see whether it makes sense. I think that in meetings by leaning out every now and then we can get a helicopter view of what is going on. This might help to think more strategically, and should assist in avoiding groupthink.

So what has this got to do with facilitation?

I suggest that I need to 'lean out' some more when I am writing new stuff - to consider how to phrase things; to visualise how people are going to respond; and to give an opportunity for new ideas to appear.

And I need to keep 'leaning in' when I need to get things done - whether it is planning a session; cold calling a potential client; digging through my files for an activity I've used once before; or writing up outcomes from a previous session.

While facilitating, leaning in can show you are engaged; and leaning out can help you to figure out what you are going to do next. Consider leaning in, and out, a little more decisively - you might find it makes a world of difference.