Postcards

How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Sandberg on GM chief Barra: Yes, she "leans in"

March 11, 2014: 8:49 AM ET

Two of the world's most powerful women, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and GM CEO Mary Barra, seem to have different formulas for success. But they're more like-minded than you would think.

140306095147-lean-in-240xaFORTUNE -- It's a year this week since the launch of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, and Facebook COO-turned-author Sheryl Sandberg is leaning in to her career-counsel crusade fiercely. Having sold 1.6 million books in 27 languages, she's now gearing up for printings in eight more languages (including Arabic and Mongolian), preparing to launch a new book called Lean In for Graduates on April 8 and rolling out, with the Girl Scouts, a public-service campaign called "Ban Bossy" to urge girls to assert themselves proudly -- and change the ways of anyone who dares deem them too aggressive.

For all that -- and for her success as Facebook's (FB) COO, by the way – Sandberg placed No. 11 on Fortune's recently released Global Most Powerful Women (MPW) list. Given her clout and the force of her feminism, we wondered: What does Sandberg think of the career approach of Fortune's No. 1 Global MPW, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who told us that she has never asked for a raise or a promotion?

Leaning in, Sandberg responds, is not necessarily about asking for more. "Lean In is about getting the jobs you want and deserve, whether you get them by asking or without having to ask," she told me recently.

She's not talking about clawing your way to the top, of course. But if you work hard, put in extra hours, travel to the point of exhaustion at times, and you work at the right company, you may not have to ask for either a raise or a promotion. "There is no doubt that Mary Barra has been leaning in at GM," Sandberg says.

So, does Barra think her own behavior -- never asking for a raise or promotion -- is "un-Sandberg-like"? Definitely not. In fact, the GM (GM) chief agrees with Sandberg that women should negotiate for higher pay rather than accept an original offer. Given her own recently disclosed $14.4 million pay package, did Barra negotiate that up from a lower amount? Neither she nor a GM spokesman will say.

Barra, who lately has been leaning in personally and aggressively to fix GM's mishandled product recall, explained her formula for success in my recent Q&A with her: "Do every job you're in like you're going to do it for the rest of your life and demonstrate that ownership of it." Here's the GM chief talking about her that and how she got to the top.

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    - Dec 13, 2013 11:48 AM ET
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    When Barra assumes the top job from current chief Dan Akerson on January 15, she'll be running MORE

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