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Sheryl Sandberg says one thing will abolish the gender gap in leadership roles

Jillian Denning is a writer, blogger, and teen soap specialist. Her go-to karaoke song is “Heartbreaker” by Mariah Carey. Follow her on her blog at Jillian Lorraine. and on Twitter @jillianlo.

Ambition is key

Sheryl Sandberg and her "lean in" mantra have swept through business and popular culture in the last year. The Facebook COO is famous for telling women to go for their dreams, realize their worth and be brave enough to break down stereotypes in leadership. According to Sheryl, in order for women to do these things, leadership ambition is key.

"I'm going to ask you to do something for me, no cheating," Sheryl Sandberg says to a group of women on Levo League's Office Hours. "I want to know if you've ever said the following sentence out loud. You have to have said it out loud to another human being. Not like your dog. Another actual human being. 'I'm going to be CEO of the company I work for.' I want you to stand up if you've said that sentence out loud."

A few women stand up, cautiously. Everyone else stays seated.

Sheryl continues, "I'm going to give every single one of you not encouragement, but permission to stand up next time that question is asked."

Sheryl points out that this type of hesitancy from women is quite common and needs to be addressed. Men say "yes" to leadership opportunities more than women do, and this creates a leadership ambition gap.

In order for this gap and the world to change, women need to stand up and say "yes."

Our favorite quotes

"We will not close the leadership gap until we close the leadership ambition gap."

"If we get more women into leadership roles, we will no longer have the stereotype which associates leaders with men. If this changes, it changes with your generation. So, stand up. Stand up for that one thing you are going to do."

"Pretend to have self-confidence you don’t yet feel, because by reaching for those opportunities, you will prove to yourself that you can do it."

"When people are too focused on moving up at the expense of all else, we miss opportunities. Be willing to move sideways and even down to get more experience."

"Think about what you would do if you weren’t afraid. Think about leading, because when you lead, you get to change things. And I am really excited to see the type of world this amazing group of women can build."

More Sheryl Sandberg

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