To lead in this competitive world, you need the ability to communicate authentically: Sheryl Sandberg : Global Organisation for Pravasis Urakam (GOPUR)

Published On: Saturday, June 30, 2012

To lead in this competitive world, you need the ability to communicate authentically: Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook and now a member on the company's board, graduated from Harvard Business School in 1995. One of Silicon Valley's newest billionaires, she returned to the campus recently to deliver the Class Day keynote address to graduating students. Sandberg, 42, offered career advice and spoke of what she thinks makes a great leader. Excerpts from her speech: 

It wasn't really that long ago when I was sitting where you are, but the world has changed an awful lot. My section, section B, tried to have HBS' first online class. We had to use an AOL chat room and dial-up service (your parents can explain).

We had to pass out a list of screen names, because it was unthinkable to put your real name on the Internet. And it never worked. It kept crashing...the world wasn't set up for 90 people to communicate at once online.

To reach more people than you could talk to in a day, you had to be rich and famous and powerful, be a celebrity, a politician, a CEO, but that's not true today. Now ordinary people have voice, not just those of us lucky to go to HBS, but anyone with access to Facebook, Twitter, and a mobile phone.

This is disrupting traditional power structures and levelling traditional hierarchy. Voice and power are shifting from institutions to individuals , from the historically powerful to the historically powerless, and all of this is happening so much faster than I could have imagined when I was sitting where you are today and Mark Zuckerberg was 11 years old.

As the world becomes more connected and less hierarchical, traditional career paths are shifting as well. In 2001, after working in the government, I moved out to Silicon Valley to try finding a job.

My timing wasn't really that good. The bubble had crashed, small companies were closing, big companies were laying people off. One woman CEO looked at me and said, 'We wouldn't even think about hiring someone like you' .

After a while, I had a few offers and I had to make a decision. So what did I do? I am MBA-trained , so I made a spreadsheet. I listed my jobs in the columns and my criteria in the rows, and compared the companies and the missions and the roles.

One of the jobs on that sheet was to become Google's first business unit GM, which sounds good now, but at the time no one thought consumer Internet companies could ever make money.

I was not sure there was actually a job there at all. Google had no business units, so what was there to generally manage? And the job was several levels lower than jobs I was being offered at other companies. So I sat down with Eric Schmidt, who had just become the CEO, and I showed him the spreadsheet and said, 'This job meets none of my criteria' .

He put his hand on my spreadsheet and he looked at me and said, 'Don't be an idiot' . Excellent career advice. And then he said, 'Get on a rocket ship' . When companies are growing quickly and they are having a lot of impact , careers take care of themselves. And when companies aren't growing quickly or their missions don't matter as much, that's when stagnation and politics come in.

credits: economic times

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Posted on Saturday, June 30, 2012. Labelled under , . Feel free to leave a response

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