This is the first post in my “Leading Ladies” series. I am honored and humbled that Alli Polin is my first leading lady.
Alli Polin is Founder and CEO of Break the Frame, LLC. As a leadership coach, consultant and speaker, Alli focuses her work with people and organizations that are ready to break from the status quo, lead, and engage with renewed passion and purpose. You can connect with Alli on her blog www.breaktheframe.com or on Twitter @AlliPolin.
Leadership Reflections from Alli Polin
Leading Ladies of the 21st century are fortunate. We have paths available to us that our parents and grandparents never contemplated. We redefine what it means to have it all, intentional about our choices and leaders of our own journeys. Here’s mine…
When I meet people on Social Media I think I confuse them. My profile says I live in Australia, which I do, but I am not Australian. I’m an American expat living in the Outback, a 16-hour drive from the nearest city. My story started in Philadelphia, moved to DC Metro, a few more unexpected turns, and here I am running a global consultancy and executive coaching practice from the middle of nowhere.
I was always one to do the unexpected. Being told, “I can’t” made me want to show the world “I can!” After all, if we don’t believe in ourselves, who will?
In college I was told: It’s not possible for a Sociology Major to get a position with a top management consulting firm. I was hired and thrived.
In consulting I was told: We’ve never tried that approach and this is important. My team trusted my ideas and together we took traditional training and successfully flipped it on its head.
In HR I was told: We’ve done this for a long time. You’re over your head- do it my way because I said so. I took on one project after another, built relationships, and implemented programs that humanized HR.
Leadership lesson #1: Believe in what’s possible, and the roadblocks move out of the way.
My first job was not my forever job. I made a choice that shocked many people who only knew the driven, career-focused Alli. I quit my job to stay home with my children full-time. I said “no” to the travel and long hours and said, “yes” to my marriage, family and figuring out who I am without my title.
Leadership lesson #2: Every time we say no to something, we say yes to something else.
Happily, a career detoured is not a career derailed. After 11 years in the workforce in senior roles, many women told me that leaving meant I had to say goodbye to my career forever. I felt caught between the judgment of my stay-at-home and working friends for my personal career choices. Ultimately, I decided I’d be a better Mom if I had a career too. Thanks to my network, I on-ramped as the head of a Talent Management consulting practice for an RPO provider.
Leadership lesson #3: The naysayers are projecting their own fear; listen to your own heart and gut.
The career achiever in me was unleashed once again. I was on the go as a VP of People and Innovation for a large Fortune 500 company. People would ask me, “How do you do it all?” Here’s my secret, I didn’t. I not only had a team at the office, but also a team at home including my husband, friends and a full-time live-in nanny.
Leadership lesson #4: No woman is super woman. We all make choices and we all make sacrifices.
Turns out big titles don’t make me happy, but doing great work that I am passionate about does. I finally made the leap and started my company partnering with individuals, leaders, and organizations that are no longer willing to accept “because that’s the way we’ve always done it” as an acceptable choice.
Leadership lesson #5: I am not my title and success is not one size fits all.
Now, here I am, an expat in the Australian Outback, proving that change is an opportunity to find strength and creativity. I’m living an adventure, playing more and having fun while continuing to build my business from the opposite side of the globe.
Leadership lesson #6: Enjoy the journey.
Given all of the choices and possibilities available to us today, have women leaders “arrived?” I believe that the answer is “not yet” – but we’re on our way. Women need to support one another, not judge who is on the right or the wrong path.Leading Ladies of the 21st century need to fully embrace the truth: there is more power in WE than ME.