Sob Your Way to the Top

Article excerpt

Byline: From Tom Leonard in New York

WOMEN should not be afraid to cry at work and it could even help them to succeed, a leading businesswoman has claimed. Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, said women should be honest with themselves about their femininity rather than trying to compete by behaving like men.

The 42-year-old is one of the few female executives to have reached the top in Silicon Valley and has been instrumental in the success of the social networking service.

She made her surprising assertion - which goes against the conventional wisdom that crying at work is career suicide - in a speech to US students at Harvard Business School.

'I've cried at work. I've told people I've cried at work,' she said. 'I don't believe we have a profes-sional self from Mondays through Fridays and a real self for the rest of the time.

'I talk about my hopes and fears and ask people about theirs. I try to be myself. Honest about my strengths and weaknesses, and I encourage others to do the same. It's all professional and it is all personal, all at the very same time.' Critics said it was all very well for a woman in her powerful position to advocate such ideas but it was unrealistic for those further down the career ladder. Research shows that women are much more likely than men to cry at work, as they are in general - primarily because boys are taught not to cry. …