Success and Impactful Leadership - Niki Allen

Talking Trends
3 min readJul 21, 2021

I was featured in the ‘Breaking the Tinted Ceiling in Tech’ discussion with Blacks in Technology, the largest nonprofit community dedicated to the advancement and promotion of people of African descent in technology. I was fortunate to share my thoughts on how I have been able to become a successful executive and tactics on how to become an effective leader.

Read my thoughts below:

“Success really comes down to grit and perseverance. I combine that grit and that perseverance with this insatiable appetite to understand. In this business being a technologist is foundational to what I do in my discipline, but understanding how to leverage technology to enable business outcomes is so important. Then, speaking of outcomes, you have to have an outcome mindset and I think that’s one of the things that’s been really helpful for me in my career is understanding it’s not about output rate delivering things it’s about the outcome and enabling organizations to be successful. I would also say what has been most important is a relentless focus on diversity equity and inclusion, and making sure that I show up as a leader who’s authentic and that I create environments for people around me to feel like they can show up as their authentic selves as well.

“There’s something that I learned about impactful leadership a few years ago, which is a really good acronym: P-I-E. The P stands for performance. Performance is table stakes as a leader having strong technical skills and document is table stakes as an employee, it is table sake. So performance is expected that gets rewarded in different ways for some people it’s a paycheck, for others maybe who are entrepreneurs it’s revenue or growth but performance is what you have to do to earn your right to be there every day.

“But, that alone is not enough to warrant promotion or to warrant growth, so then comes the I, which is the image. So, how do you show up as you’re performing? Are you curious? Are you open to new ways of thinking or are you just dead set on your way? Do you inspire other people? Do you create inclusive environments so that people feel valued when they’re part of your team? When you interact with people is it just transactional, does it always feel like you want something from them or are you truly trying to foster relationships? It is your executive presence, it is whether or not you show up as someone who can command the room and influence others. If you are not, are you aware of that and are you working towards it? And then most importantly, back to my original point, are you authentic? So image and how you show up really matters.

“So the P is performance, the I is for image, and lastly, the E is for exposure. If you’re performing at or above expectations and you’re showing up as a strong leader with the potential to do even more,

what does your impact look like? In other words who knows about your impact, your contributions, the value you’re adding, your potential? It is not only who knows about you and your personal sort of PR campaign but it is about how are you helping others, how are you exposing others to your lessons learned, and your subject matter expertise. Exposure is a two-way exercise but it’s still really important as you think about continuing to develop as a leader so it’s that simple: P-I-E.”

About Niki: Niki Allen is the senior vice president of technology at Kohl’s. Niki emphasizes that technology is the basis of all successful organizations. She uses her background in data and analytics to strategize how to help businesses operate more effectively through the innovation of new technologies. As a transformational thought leader, she actively works to use technology to create a more diverse and inclusive future with greater opportunities for all.

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