Log in

Shannon Polly


Member profile details

First name
Last name

My Story

Fun Facts About Me
I've written a one-woman solo show about my wedding called:

Like Mother: One Woman's Musical Journey Through Six Showers, Three Receptions, and One Ice Sculpture of the Empire State Building

Personal information

Shannon is one of the first 100 people in the world to get her degree in positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She was honored to be part of the US Army Resiliency training team where she trained over 1,500 soldiers. Her mission in life is to increase the well-being of every person she interacts with – through facilitation, consulting and leadership coaching.

She is an experienced organizational development and coaching professional with a passion for using innovative and empirically-based approaches to create resilient leaders, teams, and organizations. Her experience as a coach and facilitator spans mid and senior level clients across the private, public, and non-profit sectors. She has done keynotes for Google and GE and facilitated workshops in Kenya, Thailand, Haiti and Bangladesh. She is known for using innovative, engaging, and science-backed approaches to create resilient leaders, teams, and organizations. She finds a way to balance the rigor of the research with the warmth and play that make a training engaging.

She coaches and facilitates workshops on a number of leadership development goals ranging from career advancement, management skills, executive presence, leading as a woman, leading a global team and building strategic relationships. A number of her clients were promoted to senior levels in their organization at the conclusion of their coaching.
She graduated from Yale College with honors, has a Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) from the University of Pennsylvania (where she was also an assistant instructor) and a Certificate in Leadership Coaching, Georgetown University.

As a coach, Shannon has built her coaching practice on three pillars. First, clients need to increase their awareness of how their thoughts and beliefs impact their behavior. Significant changes in behavior and improved outcomes are more likely when grounded in these insights. Second, she leverages her decade long professional acting career to help leaders find their most powerful performance. Somatic (physical) coaching helps leaders understand how their physical presence impacts others and, by doing so, increase their ability to see how their ‘performance’ drives leadership and interpersonal effectiveness.

She is a contributor to the book, Positive Psychology at Work (Wiley) and the European Handbook of Positive Psychology. She co-authored and co-edited the book Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life. She conducts appreciative inquiry summits all over the country. In addition, Shannon translates her experience as a Yale trained actor to teaching presentation skills and executive presence.

She has a degree from Yale College, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, coaching certification from the Georgetown Leadership Coaching program, and is an International Coaching Federation Professional Certified Coach.

She can be reached at shannon@shannonpolly.com.

Professional Information

Lead Well Work Well ++ Shannon Polly
Job title
Primary Focus
Leadership Development - Corporate Training and Coaching
Primary Focus Details
Facilitation and Training

Executive Coaching

Professional Area
  • Business
Active Professional Interests
  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Business
  • Coaching
  • Consulting
  • Family/Parents
  • Human Resources
  • Humanities
  • Military
  • Wellness coaching
Professional Skills
  • Consulting
  • Entertainment
  • Facilitating groups
  • HR specialist
  • Leadership development
  • Speaking
  • Teaching resilience
  • Writing
ICF Certification
Coach Training
  • 60+ Hours Coach Training
  • Professional Certification
Fluent in Languages
  • English
Certificate in Leadership Coaching - Georgetown University

International Coaching Federation Associate Certified Coach


Degrees Before MAPP
B.A. with honors at Yale University

Graduate degree at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art

Social Media


Speaking Experience

Interested in Speaking Referrals
Speaking Topics
Present Like a Rock Star

What's Right With You? (Strengths Based Managing)

Resilience and Stress Reduction
Experience speaking to large audiences


Blog logo
Book 1 Cover
Book 1 Title
Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life
Book 2 Cover
Book 2 Title
Positive Psychology at Work: How Positive Leadership and Appreciative Inquiry Create Inspiring Organizations
Book 3 Cover
Book 3 Title
Chapter in Positive Psychiatry: A Casebook
Media: Radio, TV, or podcasts
Journal Articles
Applying Strength and Appreciative Inquiry to Westin Hotels

Polly, S., & McCarthy, J. (2011). Applying Strengths and AI to Westin Hotels. International Journal of Appreciative Inquiry, 13, 1.


Polly, S. & Bowling, D. Does Happiness Really Drive Results?

Talent Management Magazine, July 2012


Reaching for Cultural Change

This paper describes how Shannon's cohort from the University of Pennsylvania applied appreciative inquiry to a non-profit organization in Australia.

Capstone title and abstract
Positive Management Training:

Using Positive Psychology to Improve Employee Engagement

Louisa Jewell and Shannon Polly



Capstone Project

Master of Applied Positive Psychology

University of Pennsylvania

Advisor: Kim Cameron

August 6, 2009


This Capstone project encompasses a four-module training program on the topic of Positive Management. Positive Management Training translates the empirical research of positive psychology into tools and techniques that managers can implement in the workplace in order to improve employee engagement, performance and well-being. We highlight the compelling evidence that improving both employee well-being and engagement results in better business performance for organizations. William Kahn’s three components of employee engagement – psychological meaningfulness, safety and availability – serve as the theoretical framework for the four Positive Management training modules: Positive Communications and Feedback; Managing Challenging Conversations; Strengths-Based Managing; and Optimism and Resilience. Other relevant research used to design the workshops and to explore employee engagement is also discussed. All of the workshops were piloted to ensure their efficacy and to refine the structure. A high level overview of each workshop is included along with the results of the pilot and the evaluations received from the participants. The paper concludes with possible future directions for training modules.

Contact data

MAPP Geography
  • USA - DC Area

MAPP Information

MAPP Graduation Year
Board Role
Budget Finance Fundraising
Board sort key
Class Rep
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software