It's Not About Confidence, It's About Courage with Pollyanna Lenkic

Pollyanna Lenkic is one of Australia’s leading professionals in creating high performance cultures that transform results. For the past 20 years she has supported clients across Govt, Blue chip Corporate, NFPs and Mid tier professional services organizations.

She achieves this by helping her clients to develop consistent high-performing teams, elevating leadership  capability, lifting employee engagement and maturing the potential of all.

Among her accomplishments are building a multi million pound business from the ground up, author of the book Women & Success, she was a regular contributor to Australia's best business blog, SmartCompany for 13 years writing as their expert on teams. Pollyanna is a regular contributor to Arianna Huffington’s Thrive. 

As part of the leadership team of Homeward Bound Projects, a global initiative to elevate the influence and leadership of women in STEMM globally. She was the onboard Leadership facilitator for HB3 which took to Antarctica supporting 80 women from 26 countries.

A core focus of hers is working towards building a gender balanced workforce. Her Women & Success programs support women to navigate specific challenges that women face in the workplace.






Inside This Episode

  • Using Public Commitments to Create Accountability and Action
  • The Power of Creating a New Identity
  • The One Thing You Need When Your Chute Doesn’t Open (Literally)
  • Micro Steps to Long-Term Success
  • The True Power of Muscle Memory
  • Prepared Spontaneity
  • It’s Not About Confidence, It’s About Courage
  • How The Success of Others Can Limit You
  • The Unbelievably Long Timeline for Gender Pay Equality

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John Ryan
You're listening to key conversations for leaders. This is episode number 41. Welcome everybody. In today's episode, we'll be discussing how it's not about confidence. It's about courage with Pollyanna Lenkic, we'll be talking about how focusing on confidence can actually hold you back the power of creating a new identity. And the one thing you need when your chute doesn't open literally, and much, much more.

John Ryan 0:24
Leadership is about vision. It's about creating a vision and sharing that vision with others in a way that inspires them to walk with you towards its fulfillment. Along the way, leaders encourage, motivate, guide and even challenge people to bring their best each and every day. And it's all done through conversations. That's what this show is about better conversations for better leaders. Hey, everybody, and welcome to key conversations for leaders. I'm your host John Ryan, and today we have a very special guest Pollyanna linkage. Pollyanna is a coach, mentor, facilitator and speaker. She's one of Australia's leading professionals in lifting professional performance in global and national organizations. She achieves this by developing high performing teams, elevating employee engagement and maturing the potential and of all having built a multi million pound business from the ground up. Pollyanna knows the importance of rewards of high performance. She's also the author of women in success and is a regular contributor to Australia's best training business blog blog, which is She is considered their expert on teams for the site. Welcome to the show Pollyanna.

Pollyanna Lenkic 1:33
Welcome. Thank you so much. It's a pleasure to be here. Thanks for the invitation. John,

John Ryan 1:37
You're welcome. I'm looking forward to our conversation. You know, want to start out I know that you're obviously from Australia. But when you started out, you actually built your business in London, you went to London with not a lot of resources or network. Can you tell us a little bit about how how you build your successful business from scratch literally.

Pollyanna Lenkic 1:59
Thank you. Well, we it's always on this on the shoulders of community and giants, isn't it? We all build from support around us. However I did, I landed in London with 40 pounds in my pocket. I think it was traveler's checks back then because it was the late 80s. And yeah, I didn't know anyone I had no return ticket home, you could do that back then you could turn off as long as you went through Dover and not Heathrow they let you in. And then I just had the so that was back in 86. And in 1990 I had the opportunity to partner in a business that was already set up but my business partner at the time wasn't able to leave his full time role to work on the business. I think that's a common thing that happens with entrepreneurs you start your side hustle and it had been a side hustle for him for a long time so I took it on board full time not really intending I wasn't really sure to be honest it was an industry I didn't know and specialist it recruitment consultancy it specialized in had a nation unit trust investment management business sector with with it, you nothing about that you nothing about recruitment. But what propelled me was a bet, actually, I was out one night and, and one of my business partners, friends that have pretty much tapped me on the knee when you're going to be doing a bit of secretarial for the business. And I took offense to that I thought that was a little bit sexist, and dumb, made a bet and just said, Hey, you want to be earning double your salary by the end of the year, which was complete bravado. And I had no context for that. And I woke up the next day and went all that was some kind of got to do this now. And for context, I left a 14,000 pound a year job as an EA to two managing directors of a media company. And this person was earning 1000 pounds. I think he was earning 800 pounds a day. So if you do the numbers but was like a very out of reach. And and I did I actually I achieved that goal. In that first year I was just became very focused and driven. So yes, that was the sort of not so salubrious beginnings, but it was. It was an incredible experience.

John Ryan 4:11
So in that situation, it was obviously it was a challenge. It was a risk. What do you think was it inside that that really drove you to commit to doing that and obviously, achieving that result?

Pollyanna Lenkic 4:25
I think I was 24 you know, and I was in a place where I didn't have history. And I think there's power to them. JOHN, when you go somewhere else and nobody knows you, you can actually reinvent yourself in a way that strips away those boundaries, the box that we put ourselves in, because we know that the box we put ourselves in is is far more damaging than the box others put us in. But you know sometimes coming out of that box, there was no one there to say Hang on a minute. That's not you I came from a at a regional Victoria town here in Australia, which was about an hour and a half from our main city in Victoria, which is Melbourne, which is where I now live. And look compared to cities in the US. Melbourne is a country town. Yeah, we say we're a city. But really, we're just, you know, globally, we're not really we're not a massive city. So coming from the country was even smaller.

Pollyanna Lenkic 5:23
And you know, there was often signposts to remind yourself of where you came from, and who you were, and others to reinforce that, which is not always helpful. So I just fear of failure, I think, I made that bet. And I took it, I just thought I'm not, I'm just not stumping up and going, I didn't do this. And I remember, you know, I spent a long time clearing out the spare room was like, in the UK, every house has what they call a box room, like a really small room, you wouldn't even get a single bed in there. But it's just like this really small room. And so that's why I put a desk and a phone because we didn't have PCs or internet back then we had landlines you might have to Google that if you're younger than me, which you probably are if you're listening to this. So I had a phone and a notepad. And I remember just sitting down going, I've cleaned this office, I actually have to get to work now. But I didn't know what that next step was. So I just burst into tears. And I can't remember that point of like being this dribbling mess on my desk going, I don't know how the hell I'm going to do this, to suddenly going, I'm doing this. And that bits a little bit blurry in my memory. But I just remember being distraught, just going, Oh, my God, the first step I took was I contacted people in the industry, and said, You know, I'm doing this work, I gotta say, I don't really know what I'm doing. But it's a great opportunity. Can you tell me what are the things that you really value in the service you get from people who are doing this work? And what are the things that really bog you off that you just sort of, you know, a recruitment consultants back then in the 80s, in the 90s, didn't have, you know, as good a reputation as they have now, it wasn't yet a profession that was mainstream, if that makes sense. So I found out the good, the bad, and the ugly, and decided I'd focus on the good. And and I think that was a massive turning point. And by seeking out for help, john, now, if someone comes to you and says I need some help, you're not going to say get lost, you're free can put a restraining order on them, I'm hoping that you would do that. So people were really generous, and they were helpful. And if you think about all the great work that brene Brown does. You know, it's that vulnerability, that honesty piece, it wasn't trying to be something I wasn't, I was genuinely looking to find excellence in the work I was doing.

Pollyanna Lenkic 5:34
So I'm hearing inside of that one, you were able to shed the confines the box from the past, like no one, you're in a new country, you're here, the role of who you can show up to be from a game perspective was unlimited. And you had that vulnerability to recognize what you know, and what you don't know, and to ask for help in that space. So it sounds like being comfortable and taking that risk. And being authentic and vulnerable, as you said, is a major part. Is that one of the things that comes up in your work with teams too.

Pollyanna Lenkic 8:16
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, there's, there's the, there's no, you know, and if you think about leading teams leading, you know, being a leader to another individual person where you're mentoring them and supporting them. No, no, no leadership is isolated. It's not a single person game. It's, you know, we all stand on the shoulders of others, we all you know, embraced by our community, we all need others to do the work we do. So when I work with teams, I work from a systems thinking lens. So you know, the first part is you must know yourself, Know thyself, Be courageous enough to be vulnerable. And, you know, and not be messy about it, you know, there's, there's really messy, and then there's, you know, vulnerability. So how do you take that vulnerability and build, you know, step by step, you think about all that great work that James clear talks about, Michael, you know, those atomic habits. Now, those micro steps a little bit each day.

Pollyanna Lenkic 9:17
And I think that I think that is a game changer. And I think without realizing, that's what I did. You know, because I had no context. I had no coaches. I had no mentors, like then. So I found them. I didn't even know that there was this thing called a mentor that existed for the work that I was doing. So it's sort of something that happened organically, but it was just getting up every day having a process having a routine. You know, finding out what I didn't know I was never frightened to say I don't know how this works. And that I believe was a pivotal strength. You know, because when you do that bravado piece, and I know it all in I'm doing this now I don't think I would have got the same help that I got back then. And I worked my buns off, you know, I worked really hard and, and loved it the first time I helped somebody else get a job. It filled my heart. I can't tell you the joy that that was, you know, so it started to have real meaning for me. And that was definitely something that changed how I approached the work and the success that followed.

John Ryan 10:27
Well, I mean, you've identified you know, taking risks, one moving to another country, taking on new roles, expressing even your own vulnerability is a risk as well and how you do one thing is how you do many things, including you're a bit of an adventure like I know that you have done skydiving, can you share us a little bit about your experience? I understand there's some things that happen when you were doing skydiving in Kenya, I believe, is that correct?

Pollyanna Lenkic 10:51
Correct. You've done your research. I was very fortunate to skydive for over a 15 year period and junk food some extraordinary people around the world did a lot of skydiving in Arizona as well. Which was fabulous onto the desert there they lots of fun stuff to have good adventures. But yes, I won't depends on other very lucky or very clumsy depending on on your lens here. But we were skydiving in just outside of Mombasa. And on one of the trips that I did, I did a couple of trips there. I we jumped from 18,000 feet. So 15,000 feet, you need oxygen but we were in a fast plane, we're probably a little reckless. And we said let's just go up a little bit higher. So you know i'm sure we won't get hypoxia because you know we're going up fast. So that was obviously a decision that wasn't a smart decision.

Pollyanna Lenkic 11:39
We were doing an eight way formation over Malindi beach sunset, oh my god, best time to jump out of an airplane, you know, the skies are pink and blue. And it was beautiful. The problem was, as we jumped down, I was a when you either have what they call floaties, or divers, I was a diver. And I sliced my head. There was a there was a like a little hook on the door. And I remember early on in the day going, you know, we got to take that up, some Muppets going to slice their head open on that door if they don't duck. And of course, that was me. So I came out and raised up a little bit, smacked my head sliced my head. And the next thing I knew it was 5000 feet. And the tricky you know, so 8000 18,000 feet to 5000 feet. And when I came to I remember an instructor in my early days when I was training, do my skydiving ratings. He said three seconds to save your life when it goes to hell. And so my first thought was can you vomit in freefall? That's not a high saving thought. Because I was feeling really noisiest, I couldn't see very well, because this gooey stuff, you know, on my goggles, I was bleeding. My second thought was, I know there are sharks in the water because there was we had a warning in our briefing. That's obviously two seconds gone probably a little bit longer. My third one was, you know, okay, here's what I'm going to do. But the tide was in. So we had a really narrow landing area crosswind landing. And look at that, well, I'm here talking to you today. But I'll often say to people, john, you know, what, what do you think saved my life that day? You know, because when we looked at the video, you know, the formation built over here, and I'm falling completely stable over here. So nobody knew I was in trouble. So someone coming to get me not not not what saved me that day. What do you think?

John Ryan 13:33

Pollyanna Lenkic 13:35
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. training. And you know what most people say when I asked that question, they'll say things like, I got lucky. Someone helped you. You're confident, or whole manner of things. And they go Yep, none of that muscle memory, muscle memory from training. And exactly, to your point earlier on the steps that I took, in my early business with naive naivety is a great thing when you're starting out when you're 24. But you don't know what you don't know. And there's power to that. Yeah. So those micro steps every single day. Built skills, capability, habits, you know, really good productive habits. And in my skydiving, muscle memory I was I was out for the count. And when you look at the video, the fact that I was falling, completely stable, that's muscle memory, that's training. And if you've ever jumped but before every jump, and we used to do eight to 10 a day on holidays, eight was my happy place. We did 15 minutes of reserved drills training like physically, verbally, physically, we went through the whole motions.

Pollyanna Lenkic 14:47
We had a we practice the dive so 15 minutes times eight jumps a day or dying 10 that's a lot of muscle memory. Muscle memory saved my life and it's that prepared spontaneity, spontaneity peace. What can we do so that when we have to stand up spontaneously and be ready, that we're prepared for, and I think, you know, muscle memory saves your life and continues to save me, on many ways. So it's a really important skill to develop, whether it's a physical skill, or whether it's a, you know, a verbal or work skill, or if you're nervous about presenting, then that muscle memory, you just keep on doing it. Regardless if you nervous, you know, which is why I, I throw big rocks at confidence, we don't need confidence to do this, we just need to practice we need to process we need to create good habits, all stuff, I'm talking to the converted here, or stuff that you know, so re looking at our beliefs and what we believe and sort of flipping back to something that you said earlier on, john is, I didn't know what the ceiling or the cap was when I set up my business.

Pollyanna Lenkic 15:52
And I was 24. And started working on that full time on my own. And I remember going to my very first how to be a good recruitment consultant course. And I was so nervous, I really go. I've been doing this job for two years by that point. And everyone was at least 10 years older than me. And I used to always think that, you know, I was working with all these old men, they're probably only 35, bless them. But you noticed 2425 I think probably 26, by Telmo into this course. And I was so nervous, because I was saying words like, pipeline, and funnel, and I'm going, Oh, my God, what's the pipeline? Do I need one of those? Because I just didn't have any of the terminology, I didn't have a clue. And I still want to uncheck this gun. All right, darling, you know what you got to do, right?

Pollyanna Lenkic 16:33
When you're when you're successful, like me, you're going to have beers, you're going to have that you're going to have that. And this light bulb went off and went, Oh, my God, I'm triple billing this guy. You know, and he's, I'm so glad I didn't meet you two years ago, because I would have put a ceiling on what I thought was possible. That that just clicked something for me. And when you know, it's really important who you take advice from, it's really important that that advice doesn't create a lower ceiling for you. Because that if I hadn't listened to him two years ago, I would have got to his level, and thought, Oh, I made it. I've made it. Whereas I had no idea that was a very pivotal moment. So I hadn't created, I'd created the muscle memory in the work I was doing to exceed those. You know, those limits? Does that make sense?

John Ryan 17:24
I think it does. And I'd like to clarify a little bit. So one on the you don't know what you don't know, sometimes it's good to not know what you can and cannot do, because you can surpass that. And also connecting it to the the skydiving the muscle memory. So when you were unconscious, when you're falling, you were stable, the stable dive in to make sure I understand the terminology was your body was in a freefall that was sustainable.

Pollyanna Lenkic 17:47
Right, flat flying, just because if I was buffering, I wouldn't have if I was buffering, I would not have come out of that. If I was because if you think about spinning at terminal velocity being coming to I very much doubt I would have been able to get out of that.

John Ryan 18:04
Okay, so that literally unconsciously, because of your training, the muscle memory that there was there, your body knew I'm in this environment. This is how I behave when I'm in this environment, even though you were not conscious at the time. Phenomenal. Love that story. Thank you so much for sharing that gift, but also goes to, you know, and you've written extensively about confidence, and the dangers of of what you label the confidence quest. And I think of course, many people out there are like, well, I just want to be confident and I just feel confident. What are we missing for those that are on that delusional quest, as you might say?

Pollyanna Lenkic 18:45
And look, I do think it's a little bit of self deception. And it's, it's a group self deception. I about look about in 2000, when I was arranging to sell my company I started thinking about, I just have to give some context how women see and perceive themselves through the lens of success. And confidence was a theme that just kept coming up. If only I had more confidence if I knew I could always be confident if I know could be confident when I needed to be confident. So this confident narrative was you know, was there and I was just going I don't know that we need confidence because I didn't have any confidence, probably for the first you know, eight years of my business. But I still just got up and did it anyway. What if we connected with our courage instead? And I know Bernie Brown is also done some great work on you know, connecting with courage. Be courageous. And we already have that courage within us. And you know, for anyone here who is listening to this and saying but I like when I feel confident. Yeah, we all do. Awesome. Enjoy it, but it's a roller coaster. So therefore if you're riding the high of confidence, just enjoy it.

Pollyanna Lenkic 19:55
You know, however, know that we see What plays out in the world when overconfidence is played out as well, I just don't think it's some, I think it's a false, you know, we're worshipping at false gods here. Whereas if we look at our courage, then we can see what we're capable of. And if we know what we're capable of, then we're limiting ourselves. Because we don't know what we're capable of what we are capable of, is doing hard things. I think the the past 12 months is showing that and, you know, I do a Google search this morning, 51 seconds, 887 million responses are shown when you're typing confidence in women, I'm sure it's gonna be different now. And, you know, all these titles are popping up, Bruce, Dr. build confidence, tell us about your confidence gaps, and how to fill them, you know, let me help you be empowered and be confident, you know, I just saw it go, you know, it's like a little bit of a vitamin D deficiency, isn't it, maybe we just need a inoculation. So that women, you know, can be cured of this terrible demise of lacking confidence. So all the research points to women are lacking confidence.

Pollyanna Lenkic 21:05
And a lot of men who are supporting women to be successful in their lives and in the workplace, and misguided and the coaching them on confidence. So stop and stop, Coach on skills capability, give stretch assignments, Shadow mentoring opportunities, you know, do practical things that creates that muscle memory, so that when the time happens, and you need it, it's there for you that we don't need a jab. You know, so just remember, women are already powerful, we're already talented, we're already created, we're already resourceful and we already hold like every other human being on the planet, men and women. However, we seem to be coming towards women's development and have done two decades on a deficiency based model. It's time to stop that. So women are not lacking now systems are lacking.

John Ryan 21:58
I love that. I want to find out more about that, as well, as we continue this conversation, let me clarify, make sure I understand where you're coming from. So from that confidence, she said, there's nothing really there's nothing wrong with having confidence. And there's a problem, of course, with having too much confidence, because that's when your competence does not match your actual ability, I suppose. But really why wait until you're in that zone of competence before going for what you want and developing that muscle memory. Because just doing the work, getting this skill is practicing daily, develop muscle memory, get to that place of confidence. And if you don't make it right away, who cares? You're still getting the skills anyways, which is what you need to get the results.

Pollyanna Lenkic 22:36
Correct. One of them running a virtual online mentorship program for a beautiful group of people and one of the participants just in it has a thing in her team where they talk about failing forward and I just love it. I'm like, Justin, I'm stealing now I'm going to use that all the time. You know, building that muscle memory means we need to fail, but let's fail forwards rather than failing backwards. And I think it's a really beautiful phrase that she shared with the cohort in the team because you know, you're going to fail. It just that's that's the stretch goal. And there's a coach in the US called Rick Tamblyn, who has a program called the big game I work with Rick, years ago. Fabulous chap. And he sort of talks about, you know, when we want to play a bigger game in life, if we know what if we know how it's not a bigger game? Yeah. So it's really interesting. How much we diminish what's possible, because confidence is It's that thing that will never always be there, it's a vapor. So we're, we need something more solid to hold on to.

John Ryan 23:40
Is that our box that we put ourselves in that I'm not confident we're making a outside judgement about our competence in worthiness that's really limiting us and holding us back back to the first thing we talked about?

Pollyanna Lenkic 23:55
I think it's a it's very, I think there's complexities it's like a kaleidoscope. We know thyself is a reason Socrates wrote that on the temple of Delphi delfy. And is the reason that any, any great leader or anyone who's done the magnificent things in the world knows themselves? You know, so some of it is that self piece, you know, what's my relationship with confidence and what I feel I need and when I feel I'm lacking, and how does that either disable progress or enable progress? The other one is, you know, that context of others. What does this mean for others in my life? What does this mean for the people I lead? What does this mean for the people dear to me? How do we have those conversations? And how do we mentor and support from whether to formal mentoring or peer situation?

Pollyanna Lenkic 24:43
And then there's what does it mean for an organization? I mean, look at any any sort of inquiry that happens on an organization, I think you'll see a lot of inflated confidence and decisions that have been made there. So it's not thing I think the first thing to do is, what is your relationship with confidence and the feeling that you that something that is needed. It can be something that can be enjoyed. But I think the danger is the narrative over the past couple of decades, is that's what women need. And I think that's the piece we don't say, men need more confidence to step into something we do say, women need more confidence. So there's a global collective, I think it's the misguided holy grail of, of the of our times.

John Ryan 25:33
Well, on that differentiation from a gender perspective that you shared with me when we talked previously. And something that I hadn't known was that the projected amount of time it's going to take to have pay equality and parody really occur is anywhere from 70 to 200 years before that happens is that is that right?

Pollyanna Lenkic 25:55
It's frightening isn't it really does depend on the research, you read that that's the the guide. So in 2019, the World Economic Forum published the global gender report 2020. And they stated that none of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes and nor likely will many of our children or their children, that's a really sobering finding of that report, you can actually you can, so they're saying it will not be attained for 99.5 years. So that was one of their reports. Here in Australia, the gender pay gap is 20%. So in data released in November of this year found that men earn 20% more than women in 2019, and 2020. So that's about equates to about 25,500 a year, which is down point seven percentage points over the last year.

Pollyanna Lenkic 26:48
And that then brings us to gender equities take is going back backwards during COVID. And during the pandemic when women are being impacted more, and I was having a conversation with someone, I'm partnering with Lee gastner recently, and he said, actually, what's really happening is the global events have just exposed the fault lines of gender inequity. So it's, it has to change. And this is why our focus on fixing women, and the narrative around confidence is all about fixing women. We have to fix our systems while we support our women. And while we actually help men understand the dangers of patriarchal upbringing, what that does to keep gender equity out of our reach, and how it's harming men. So it's just a big, you know, we'd have to have a lot of conversations here and a lot of change that needs to happen. Sure. It's certainly systemic change that is lacking right now. Well,

John Ryan 27:54
I don't know, if everyone I mean, that's maybe the reason why the gender inequities continuing to exist for a ridiculous amount of time. How does the patriarchal society, can you talk more about how that impacts not only women, but men as well?

Pollyanna Lenkic 28:11
Yeah, absolutely. Well, as a man, john, think about the beliefs that you, you know, that you feel that you have to live, to live with, or live towards, or be. Now you talked earlier on about, there's, there's who we are being while we do what we're doing in the world. And often from a coaching perspective, it's, you know, here's what we do in the world, all the important stuff, who's who we're being in the world, when those two things intersect. That's when that alignment and magic happens, things change. So, in I don't know what the situations, I think you're a little bit ahead in, of us in bed in Australia with regards to parental leave, and, you know, men actually, taking parental leave, I know, the Nordic countries are leaving us all way behind. Men still here believe that taking parental leave is a career limiting move. You know, and that that's, that's patriarchy in action.

Pollyanna Lenkic 29:18
It could mean all of that, or I'm not the provider or, you know, it's, it's opens up a whole raft of belief systems of who you feel you need to be in how you need to show up in the world. And then, you know, privilege is invisible to those who have it. It's a phrase that we all know. So there are privileges of being a man in the world that women don't experience. You know, we're constantly having to push and fight on those so called ceilings, it's exhausting. You know, it's to resolve this, we need to resolve it together. And there's a there's a gap in the understanding Have men collectively because they haven't done the work, they haven't done the exploration or they just haven't thought about it. You know, here in Australia, when the sunsets tonight in Melbourne, in Australia, eight men would have taken their lives to suicide. And World Health Organization did a report in 2018, that shows a direct correlation between gender inequity and men's mental health. So the cost to men of patriarchal beliefs, habits, ways of showing up in the world are harming men, as much as they are harming men. And then there's that sort of middle road where I was having a conversation with a leader who's someone I actually know, his daughters asked me if they could interview me on some gender issues for a school assignment a couple of years ago. Now, at the end of that interview, just when they had line of sight, you know, some of that line of sight on the swimming pool, I thought yet we're out of here. When the two twin girls, when that goes go out and say, You know what, my dad, my dad said, we just can't afford to pay women more right now. Now he's a leader of in an organization that has when reporting into him, that's an example of just, you know, those conversations are still happening, that belief still exists, love to pay women more right now. What, how? How is that even in conversation? So that's again, that's, you know, and then a financial justification of why it wasn't possible. We've had some conversations since. So yeah, you'll have to rein me in. I could keep talking about this.

John Ryan 31:39
Well, you've said before, we need good men to be great men. What does that look like?

Pollyanna Lenkic 31:47
So good to Sloboda who's the author of good men great talks about the devastating impact of patriarchy on men and what's required to shift from being a good man, to choosing to be a great man, he's got a TED talk IQ. He's a good person for me to introduce you to and I'll walk and talk about that after his interview. So it's actually recognizing the privilege that that you have as a man, and how you can be a better how you can be able to LA and how you can support gender equity in a real meaningful way. So that's some great expertise and work, they're going to have some, we're partnering up on some work next year with regards to this. Because at the moment, what's missing is how uncovering the Deep Impact of patriarchy on men and women and on the system, and how we can start to bring that awareness about and then come, then bring men and women together to actually solve this problem. So that it's not 200 years, or 99.5 is the World Health Organization report. Shed.

John Ryan 32:54
You've said before also that, you know, there's a tendency in our society to study the unicorns, the extraordinary leaders, like Steve Jobs, Aaron, Huffington Bill and Melinda Gates. You also caution us against caution people against doing that, what's wrong with studying the iconic leaders that we all know and look up to?

Pollyanna Lenkic 33:16
Oh, absolutely. And all extraordinary accomplished leaders and, you know, have done remarkable things in the world. It's not that study, it's, it's some, it's, again, the beliefs that we have around that. So we love mythical creatures. Yeah. And who doesn't love a unicorn? You know, it's part of our growing up, you know, the magical unicorn fairy tales to the unicorn businesses. I think the problem that happens is when we elevate them as idols, and we buy into the instant success stories that are never instance, you know, so elevating our idols is, I don't think that's helpful for us. And I think it's helpful for them. So there's no magic formula. There's just a lot of grit, they all worked really hard and have achieved remarkable things in their lives. And obviously, many like Arianna Huffington and Bill Gates, etc, is still achieving remarkable things. The danger is that we look at that as a society and we go over that success. Bang. They're brilliant, we can't touch them, because that's them over there. And it somehow helps us to feed the narrative of diminishing our own potential. That's the problem when I saw my company in my trips and shareholding of my company in 2000. You know, all of a sudden, people were wanting to interview me about it. It was such an instant success. No, it was a 10 year slog. There's nothing instant about it. I believe that's what's damaging.

John Ryan 34:47
So idolizing putting it out of reach, rather than focusing on the skills and the endurance and the resilience that that's involved in the courage that you've had in that So many people have been successful have, what are some of the skills that you think would help people on that journey to focus on that they can start doing now to create more success in their lives and the people that they serve?

Pollyanna Lenkic 35:11
Absolutely go back to know yourself. Develop your, your emotional intelligence, or EQ. And that is life's work with the fundamental foundation of our lives. And when built really strongly, it's like those deep roots of a tree that no matter what passes, whether it's a light breeze or a cyclone, you can enjoy it, you might get battered a little bit, but you won't lose who you are, you'll know what you stand for, what your purpose is in life and what you what you care for deeply enough to make a difference in the world. You know, what get you out of bed, mentoring, coaching skills, and as leaders and as, as a leader, rather, a trained coach and it's one of the best decisions I ever made was to invest four years of my life in this training.

Pollyanna Lenkic 35:57
However, as a leader, develop good coaching mentoring skills as a leader and know when to move between, you know, that coach, mentor stance, or you know, when, when needed being more directive. I think Situational Leadership, by poor person, Ken Blanchard is still a really good, really, really great book there was at the one minute manager and leadership environment manager. So just you know, get yourself some good resources, and absolutely, you know, read up on all of the great leaders that you've mentioned, but know that it wasn't magic, they got up every day, even when they didn't feel like it wasn't Madonna says, pedestals are for statues, not people. So it's the idolization of that, that is the issue, not what the people themselves have achieved.

John Ryan 36:47
You know, as a coach, as a leader, in large part comes down to conversations with self, that's the Know thyself part and also conversations with others. Would you mind sharing? Is there any specific, you know, conversation that you've had either with yourself or with other people that has had a significant impact on you either personally or professionally?

Pollyanna Lenkic 37:07
So many 57? There's a lot? That's a really good question. I love that question. You know, I think probably one of the most pivotal conversations goes back to when I was seven. And my heritage is Croatia, my father left Croatia in the late 50s. And escaped his country, there was no political turmoil there at the time, and he left and ended up in Australia, a year or so later. And he wasn't allowed to go back to Croatia for a long time. And then in the 70s, when I was seven, he was a we're allowed to, he was allowed to go back. And I remember, it was very tense, because he was very nervous. And there was a lot of fear. There's a time I I, that is visual. For me, it's a real powerful memory, both in my bones as it were, but it also sort of, from a memory point of view. And dad gave me some mum and dad gave me some money to go buy some sweets, so myself and my cousins will trot it down to the local shop, and I bought yet king of the kids, you know, I bought a bunch of sweets for everybody. And I didn't understand the currency at the time, and the currency was a bit unstable. And you know, I gave them some money. And I felt like I got a truckload of change.

Pollyanna Lenkic 38:20
And I went, Oh, my God, Wow, I've got some more money. let some you know who wants more sweets? And my cousin? Yes, no, who is a year older than me? just looked at me with a mixture of confusion, dismay, judgment, probably. The energy of the way she looked at me created a stillness. And then she said, Why? Why would you buy more sweets when you could buy food and take it home to the family. And it really jolted me because it was probably many years before I really understood the depth of it. But it jolted me to my core, that was the first time I understood privilege. It was the first time that I understood what it means to have it, you know, and to glimpse what it means not to have it. And I never lost the understanding that when we went to visit them, it created financial burden. And then I understood that my father always made sure my mother always made sure that we didn't leave, you know, that financial burden footprint on their lives, if anything, you know, change that. So that really shaped me as I grew up, and it's definitely a deep memory that I'm deeply grateful for. Yeah,

John Ryan 39:33
that's a amazing story. And one that I can imagine echoes through what you do, as an example of service and the value of being aware of your impact on the people around you and the people that are supporting you and being a support for them, not not just the burden. Thank you so much Pollyanna, for sharing that story as well as all of your insights, what's the best way for people to stay in touch with you and get connected with you and your message and your organization?

Pollyanna Lenkic 39:59
Thank you. I'm going to my website, which is planning on linkage calm, and I've got a ton of resources on there that people can avail and use. And there's some other online videos and leadership content that they can jump onto as well. So, yeah, I think we just have a wonderful end of your year. And you know, we have sort of saying earlier on when we've shut down here now for for the holiday season. So wishing you all well, but jump onto my website, all the contact details are on there, and reach out and would be an absolute pleasure to to connect my women's success. My book is available on Amazon. So you know, please feel free to jump on there as well.

John Ryan 40:44
I'll put all the links in the show notes. Thank you again, so much for being here.

Pollyanna Lenkic 40:48
Thank you so much. It's a pleasure to meet you and stay well and be safe.

John Ryan 40:52
And same to you. and thanks for watching and listening. Thanks so much for being here and until next time, develop yourself, empower others and lead by example. Thanks for listening to key conversations for leaders with your host john Ryan. If you enjoyed the show, please let us know. Give us a rating or write a review. And if you'd like to connect with me and other like minded leaders, I invite you to join our Facebook group called Develop Empower and Lead where I deliver free live training every week. If you go to It will redirect you right there. Hope to see you there soon.

John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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