Leading by Example with Alex Jorgenson
When looking at Alex’s work, the first words that come to mind are monotonous and tedious, but when he brings his energy and attitude to work, he is able to uplift his team to run smoothly and achieve their goals every period. Working as a shift manager and sales representative at Sherwin-Williams Paints is not a job title that sounds like a leader would be born out of, but Alex Jorgenson has exceeded the expectations of his role, and his managers have taken notice.
When working part-time at Sherwin-Williams, I was introduced to Alex, initially as a trainer in sales before eventually being in the same location as him on a regular basis. From the initial training provided all the way to my last day in the warehouse I saw how he lead his peers to be the most effective team they could be. Choosing Alex to interview meant picking an individual that went above and beyond the expectations of his role to influence others to follow suit.
Alex began his current role at the commercial branch of Sherwin-Williams in Lincoln after initially working at a smaller location in Kearney Nebraska. Upon arriving, many of his fellow sales representatives were far less experienced with the many products and services offered by the business, as well as many of the procedures involved with running the store. There was frequent turnover due to unsatisfactory employee performance. Alex stood out as a valuable employee and was asked to have a hand in educating new hires for multiple Sherwin-Williams locations in Lincoln. Fortunately, Alex was able to impart his experience at his previous location as well as his years of painting experience to help his fellow sales staff to understand better and distinguish the qualities of their products and to understand what customers are in search of. He was asked to continue assisting in product education and training new employees. When asking one of his supervisors, Perry, about this decision, they said “Alex is very charismatic. This helps him build relationships with new hires quickly and to learn how they will best be able to learn about our products and procedures, and in the long run, meet our goals.” Additionally, Perry said that Alex brings his contagious enthusiasm to the store every day. When asked directly, Alex said he believed that his best leadership trait he possesses is his natural ability to empower those around him. “I find myself praising the accomplishments of others often, and notice moods and efforts improve which helps us get through the slower days in the store,” Alex said. He went on to say that he has developed this skill to help understand which of his peers respond best to what kinds of praises and constructive criticisms.
I asked Alex about how much he leads remotely and was surprised to find that since I had left Sherwin-Williams he had taken over the responsibility of managing sales reports and reporting them to the rest of the branches throughout the state as well as providing information and training tips about new products being offered via email to other branches, but he says that this is a process that he feels he could do more efficiently. “There are a lot of variables between each of our products and even more that we can do to customize each of our paints for customers right here in the store, but there’s only so much detail that I can put in one email. That is one thing that I have wanted to improve.” While there is still room to grow, Alex has begun taking advantage of technology to reach more workers more effectively.
Alex encouraged people seeking to lead in their organizations to capitalize on their strengths. “You can’t go wrong by using your talents to set yourself up for success.” He also said that leaders embody the culture they want to lead their workplace toward. In summary, he said, “Be the energy that you want to see around yourself.”
Talking with Alex helped to highlight that leaders can lead from any position in an organization when they use their skills to do so. By going above and beyond, you can lead your team from any standpoint. This is very encouraging as it shows that as an employee my voice can be heard, regardless of the title that I hold, if I use my strengths to be a high achiever.