Janet Polach started her professional career in the U.S. Marine Corps. She had trouble finding a teaching job, so she decided to join the Marine Corps. She spent twenty years there, both in active duty and in the reserves. Ms. Polach also met her husband there. Her experiences in the Marine Corps. helped to shape how she thinks about leadership. She was inside and outside organizations doing human resource and organizational development work for twenty years.
Then, about fifteen years ago, she left the Marine Corps. She began doing leadership development and organizational development in a variety of settings. Next, Ms. Polach and her husband took a sabbatical and worked in Shanghai, China, for three years. After returning, she struck out on her own. All these experiences she's had inspired her to write her book, The Seven Mistakes New Managers Make: How to Avoid them and Thrive.
She started writing her book when the pandemic hit and when the opportunities for her to do her work decreased due to shutdowns. "It proved to be a great time to write a book that I'd been thinking about for a long time," Ms. Polach explained. "And I didn't have anything else to do." Ms. Polach, during this time, also joined together with a writing partner. After a project with United Health Group, she met a young man who had a similar background, even though she was fifteen years ahead of him, career-wise. Ms. Polach asked him if he would co-write the book with her, and "I don't think I have time, but I think I can provide you with counsel and support." "Rick is the reason I got the book done," Ms. Polach said. "We met every other week, and he reviewed initial drafts, told me where I was too heavily loaded with information or too light on content. I was very fortunate to have him."
Ms. Polach's favorite moment in the writing process was when her husband, an English teacher, helped her with her first edit. He said to her, "Janet, this is really good." "You work on these things for so long before you have anything to show for it," Ms. Polach said, "and you have to get pretty far along before you can show anything to anybody else. So to have somebody say my content was good was a great moment."
Ms. Polach doesn't have a favorite line from her book, but she does have a favorite concept. Her favorite concept from her book is the transitional stage from manager to leader and the challenges facing them. The section talks about how difficult the transition stage can be.
As for literary experience in her childhood, Ms. Polach didn't spend a lot of free time reading. She was diagnosed with dyslexia, so reading was difficult for her as a child. "I'm not a voracious reader," she said, "even now. Lots of people with PhDs are, but I am not. I like fiction, but I'm more of a labored reader."
As for the final message Ms. Polach hopes her readers walk away with, she wants readers to know that we can all become better leaders. "Great leaders aren't necessarily born," Ms. Polach said. "You can become a great leader, but you have to work at it. You have to learn what good leaders do, and you have to get feedback." Furthermore, great leadership doesn't come about overnight. It's something that comes through trial and error, experience, and growth. All those concepts can be read about in The Seven Mistakes New Managers Make.
Now for my favorite question: what advice would you give to a young writer? Ms. Polach said for her answer: "Start small. Don't start with a book: start with a blog. Maybe you can use those blog posts in your book. I did." As someone who prefers the end goals to the smaller steps needed to get to the end goal, I need to hear this from Ms. Polach. "Another piece of advice I would give you is that you may not be successful in getting a book put together the first time," she said before the interview concluded. "This book was my third attempt. So don't give up."
After my conversation with Ms. Janet Polach, I feel confident in my ability to grow my skills in any profession or endeavor. Her ideas about being persistent and learning through trial and error inspire me to be persistent when trying to learn how to be a better leader and professional. And I hope you learned something new by reading this post.