Digital Sales Associate
Upper Marlboro, Md.
Shelby started in the industry in June 2014 and currently serves as a Digital Sales Associate for Capital Electric. She focuses on embedding Capital Electric’s digital platform into customers’ and associates’ processes to save time, money, and effort. Here she talks about some of her thoughts of and approaches to leadership.
How would you define your leadership style?
I tend to lean towards democratic leadership. I feel there is great value in collaborating with my peers and seeking their input. We all have our own unique experience and skillset that creates the way we approach our work. I feel best results are produced when a variety of people put their heads together and work towards a common goal. It also seems that when you involve other people in your project, ideas, or process, you give them an opportunity to become invested in its success.
What is your favorite part about leading others? What is your least favorite?
My favorite part about leading others and collaborating with a team is being able to watch people work vigorously towards a certain goal or solution and eventually accomplish what they set out to do. It is truly rewarding to witness their hard work and the excitement that accomplishment brings. On the other hand, my least favorite part of leading is their disappointment when that same hard work does not lead to the result they wanted. These failures are just as important as the successes because they create an incredible learning opportunity and allow us to improve for the next time. However, that does not always make the original outcome an easy pill for them to swallow.
What values are most important to you as a leader?
Excellence and innovation are important values. Excellence drives people to be the best at what they do. It is the reason they pursuit the highest quality in what they can offer and are consistent in their pursuit of the things they believe are of value to their organization and to their customers. This goes hand in hand with innovation. Innovation is more than employing the latest technology. It is a commitment to keep an open mind, welcome change, and constantly improve in order to provide the highest benefit possible.
What are some of the most significant or memorable lessons you have learned about leadership during your career?
As a leader, it sometimes feels that people look to you to always have the right solution ready to go at a moment’s notice. I have learned that I rarely, if ever, have all the answers. While this may seem cliché, one of the most important realizations I have had in my career is the fact that there is no shame in asking others for their help. I learned this lesson early on in my career. Here I was responsible for getting something new off the ground. I was eager to prove myself, and I was trying to do it all on my own, even though I still had so much to learn about the business. After a few challenging months, I finally asked a few of my co-workers how they would approach the project. They immediately helped me define several action items and outline a plan to drive the project forward. Each time I got “stuck,” I would solicit more advice from my colleagues. There were dozens of people who played a part in each win I had that year.
How does your company encourage leadership education/training?
Capital Electric, and our parent company Sonepar, have invested in several resources to help our associates grow professionally and advance in our career. Our Learning and Development team not only offers an extensive suite of online trainings that cover everything from management and leadership basics to teamwork and team building, but they also work closely with people throughout our company to identify areas in which they would like to develop as a leader and then create a training plan tailored to those needs.
Who is your favorite leader, and why?
I am fortunate to work with several fabulously talented leaders that inspire me to do and be better. If I had to choose a favorite, I would name John Hardy, former president of Capital Electric. Mr. Hardy was the first person to offer me an opportunity in the industry, and while he retired six months after I started, his leadership during his time here continues to have a positive impact on Capital Electric. Anytime his name comes up in conversation, at least one person in the room will pause to say, “Gosh, I love that man.” People look to him as a leader because he makes you and your work feel valued. The fact that people still look up to him and solicit his opinion, years after retiring, serves as an indication of the leader he is and an inspiration for the type of leader I can only hope to emulate.