This month in our ‘Ask an Avenger’ series, we’re spotlighting LJ Sevick, our Senior Field Sales Manager, who was recently recognized as our Avenger of the Month for ‘Coach It’.
Coach It: Avengers light a fire within others, not under them. As coaches, we expect our teams to push the limits of possibility and performance. We give timely, direct feedback. We foster trust by getting to know each other as individuals.
Sales is an invaluable part of our company. Inspire’s success so far is largely due to the success of our sales team — and LJ has been an incredible leader in this department. LJ leads three different sales channels: Events, Retail, and our Sr. Sales Consultant team. He consistently exceeds expectations and crushes our goals. As we jump into our release of smart energy, he will be using his coaching skills to inform both our marketing and sales teams about what it’s going to take to get smart energy into the homes of new members. We sat down to discuss what mentorship means to him and how that translates to his management style. Check it out:
Q: What makes a good mentor?
A good mentor is a great listener. Your team should always feel comfortable expressing their concerns or beliefs with you. If someone doesn’t feel a leader is actively listening or showing an actionable next step that builds substance, the trust begins to dwindle. A good mentor is also able to facilitate challenging conversations, and empower their team to progress by proactively providing the tools to help. When I think about “Coach It,” it means being able to serve your team in a way that helps each member progress and grow. It is not about an end game or title, it’s more about being able to share experiences that help my team navigate through challenges, and watch their confidence, leadership, and communication skills grow as we go along. Most importantly, I believe a good mentor leads by example. I try to understand the perspective of my team members, knowing that it would be hard for me to trust a coach that hasn’t been through the same experiences, or supported me in the trenches. So, I always make it a point to never ask my teams to do something that I wouldn’t do.
Q: Who has been the best mentor in your life?
My Mom, Nancy. Her ability to fight against all odds, has been a true inspiration to me, and has helped me shift my mindset to view failure as a platform to learn. I watched my Mom take on the responsibility of transitioning into being a single mother of two kids when I was 6 years old. She had no real prior career experience at the time, and somehow was able to persevere and be relentless with a "failure is not an option" attitude, to provide for my brother and I, which I will forever be grateful for. My mother also recently beat breast cancer at the end of 2017, and through her relentless optimism against challenging circumstances, she again showed why perseverance alone is omnipotent. Nance has taught me too many life lessons to count. In the facet of the core value “Coach It”, she has instilled in me the importance of active listening, empathy, humility, loyalty, and most importantly — that through hard work, perseverance, grit, and determination, opportunities will follow.
Q: What’s your favorite “Coach It” moment at Inspire?
The Philadelphia home show last year was my favorite “Coach It” moment. Since it was our first time testing our smart energy product in the field, there was a lot of pressure and excitement around the event. We had various trainings and ideas going into home show, however, we weren’t able to truly understand the challenges and opportunities in pitching smart energy until we were out in the trenches in front of potential members. On day one, we learned a ton, we adjusted, we tried different things, and I had the opportunity to bring feedback to our Product, Marketing, and Tech teams once I better understood our customers’ needs. It was amazing to watch our products develop from day one up until the last day of the show. By the second weekend, we almost doubled sales, which was crazy for a first time launch. Just being able to facilitate and see that success was by far my proudest “Coach It” moment here.
Going forward, I’m excited to continue tackling the great opportunity we have of being the first company in America to offer a smart energy package. It’s a pretty compelling product offering - a smart home powered by renewable energy that empowers you to use less electricity. It’s something that’s rare and unique in the market today and I’m excited that our team is going to be the tip of the arrow to facilitate that launch.
Q: What’s one thing you try to instill in everyone that you lead?
I really try to condition my team to take a how vs. why approach to a problem. It’s very easy to identify a problem. If an event doesn’t go well, it’s easy to bring up issues with the event, or our placement, or the promotion we had to offer. What’s more challenging, but in turn, more productive, is to think about how we can solve the challenges we face. I’ve learned that once you condition your mind to work this way, you not only start to see more success in the workplace, but also in your personal life. We have to get out of the habit of venting about challenges, and move towards being more solution-oriented; pushing ourselves to think outside of the box to solve challenges we face.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone leading a team of their own?
My advice to others who are leading teams of their own is that leadership is simply the ability to influence others, and you can’t do that without trust. In order to build trust, your team needs to know that you genuinely care. It’s so important to get to know your team on a personal level and invest in them to gain trust. Once you have trust, your team will always work harder and try to exceed goals, based on the foundation that you truly believe in them. When you create that bond with your team, you’ll see that they want to see you be successful, because they know that your success is their success and you genuinely want to see them succeed.
I would also encourage all leaders to focus on making their teams feel empowered to make decisions. At Inspire, we have this “Own It” value, which directly correlates to the “Coach It” value. It’s great to give guidance and recommendations, but the only way to make someone truly feel empowered is by giving them the autonomy to make decisions themselves — letting them “Own It”.
We value Avengers like LJ who go the extra mile and take pride in personally investing in their teams. If you’re passionate about mentorship in the workplace, Inspire may be the place for you! Check out our open positions here.