A Perfect Storm: The Leadership of Sheryl Sandberg

In the distance, a storm was brewing. For years, many saw the storm coming, others could identify the storm but didn’t dare speak of it, while others sat in denial that the storm existed at all. For the millions who were waiting for someone to lead the rest out of harm’s way, Sheryl Sandberg’s ascent in the business world and subsequent meteoric rise onto the scene of the business world’s social consciousness, Sandberg’s unmatched combination of skill, power, and influence started a universal movement simply asking that everyone wake up and Lean In.

It would seem logical to assume Sheryl Sandberg was born with many admirable traits such as intelligence and determination, but these traits exist in other individuals who don’t start a movement. Therefore, the differentiator for transformational leaders like Sheryl Sandberg is what they choose to do with their talents and what they choose to actively do, “emphasizes the competencies of leaders” (Northouse, 2016, p. 69) through their skills approach. As an effective and skilled leader, Sheryl Sandberg has been able to leverage her combined skills and experiences to speak from a position of authority and exert her own influence in recognizing and talking about the disparity of women in the workplace which organically evolved her role as someone who is in a position of power to speak about the issues and seek permanent, meaningful change for women (and men). Sheryl Sandberg is the perfect storm of someone who found herself amidst a serious situational issue that called for someone who possessed unmatched skill, the power to make change, and the ability to influence a culture and a movement. Sheryl Sandberg stepped up and lead the way.

Knowledge seems to be the foundation of any leader’s success. Sheryl Sandberg states the, “ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have” (Sandberg, 2013, p. 38) noting that the to be successful, one most take the opportunities afforded and make them work for the individual by learning quickly and adapting. Gaining knowledge builds confidence. Confidence is necessary for leaders. Sandberg also states, “I also know that in order to continue to grow and challenge myself, I have to believe in my own abilities” (Sandberg, 2013, p. 41) which underscores her continued efforts around building knowledge and capabilities Knowledge is what earns Sheryl Sandberg’s credible seat at the table and what makes her so successful in problem-solving skills.

Sheryl Sandberg has shared many personal stories of triumph, failure, and loss. Through her humility and humanity, Sheryl Sandberg has been able to make a notable change in the conversation regarding women in leadership. Unafraid to talk about the truth of her own experiences, Ms. Sandberg gives credence to the cause that many are quietly and courageously fighting on a daily basis to get ahead or to simply get equal.

A Harvard graduate, mother of two, widow, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and devoted pioneer, this reluctant leader has started a movement by leaning in.


Northouse, Peter. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Sandberg, Sheryl. (2013). Lean In. Women, Work, And the Will to Lead. New York, NY: Penguin Random House, LLC.

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