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Careerwomen's day icon“Are you leaning in?” is the question Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, posed in a commencement speech at Barnard College in May 2011. The same theme is the basis for Sandberg’s new book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.”

Sandberg’s premise is that leaning in can actually promote a virtuous circle: based on the assumption that you can juggle different priorities — ie work and family — you take on challenges and carve out success for yourself; this automatically puts you in a better position to ask for what you need, and to influence changes that can benefit others.

Sandberg’s advice to women, which can be applied in Pakistan is:

Make the right choices. The concept of leaning in addresses the lives and choices of working women. Sandberg urges women to believe in themselves, give it their all, “lean in” and “don’t leave before you leave” — in other words, it is focusing on the positive, looking for possibilities and seizing the day instead of selling themselves short and pulling back too early from their careers.

Believe in yourself. “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” — This means addressing the self-doubt that still holds many women back. The key to being successful is being attentive, objective and focused on opportunities that emerge in life and work, about knowing your passions, being bold and taking calculated risks. And above all, it is about not allowing pressure and fear guide you.

Be more ambitious. Due to internal and external forces, women make small decisions throughout their career that hinder their progress. Whether it is planning ahead for a family, feeling obligated to think of others before themselves, or shying away from their achievements, women tend to opt out of good opportunities in expectation of the time when they may not be able to dedicate the time and effort to their career because of family pressures.

– Fauzia Kerai Khan
The writer is Chief Consultant, i&b Consulting, Training, e-Learning. fauzia@iandbconsulting.com

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 2, 2014.