From a very early age, Alosha Pederson has been on a journey of personal and professional exploration.
Pederson was born in Russia and at age 9, he was adopted and moved to Rogers, Minnesota. It would be a major change for anyone, especially such a young child, but he adapted well to his new life in the U.S.
Once he reached adulthood, Pederson bounced around from job to job for a few years. Like many young adults, he didn’t have a clear career path and he wasn’t quite sure what he ultimately wanted to do.
“Then I got a job that essentially changed my life and brought me to where I am today,” Pederson said. “And it taught me an extremely valuable lesson that I used to get my company going.”
But we’ll get into that later. First, we’ll focus on Pederson’s life-changing job, which initially didn’t seem like it would have such a major impact on his career trajectory.
“I was hired on to a fabrication manufacturing company in Minnesota with zero knowledge,” he recalled. “When they hired me, it was more of a ‘hey, let’s just put this guy in the corner without a real job description and see if he shows up every day.’”
And that’s exactly what Pederson did.
“I did a mindless task for months on end and then I got an opportunity,” he said. “That opportunity fast tracked me into a supervisory position within two years.”
Suddenly, instead of running machines and welding – both of which Pederson excelled at – he found himself in charge of 30-40 other employees. And he quickly realized that he had no idea how to manage people.
“I was an awful leader. Just the worst,” Pederson said. “A lot of my ‘leadership tactics’ were to get in front of everybody in the morning huddle and ramble off all the things I wanted done. All day long, I was going around being demanding of people because it was always about what I wanted and never about them.”
Then fate stepped in and Pederson had the opportunity to attend an eight-week Dale Carnegie leadership training course. And it completely changed his management style.
“The biggest thing I learned was that nobody cared what I wanted as a leader,” he said. “It was ‘what does my team want and how can we give them what they want while also accomplishing what we need to do as a company?’”
Immediately, he began to see his team in a different light. They weren’t just employees – they were people, too, and Pederson became a lot more mindful of that. As a result, he was able to build stronger relationships and lead much more effectively than ever before.
Now that we’re caught up there, we’re going to shift gears to 2022 when Pederson founded Ostego-based Endless Poxybilities, a company that does garage floor coating, patio sealing and basement concrete coating.
Thanks to the leadership lessons he’d learned from his previous job, he knew that it was crucial to get buy-in from the people he recruited for his new venture and that approach helped him create a framework to get things started on the right foot.
“I knew I was taking a huge risk with this new company,” Pederson said. “I needed these guys to be as invested in this as I was without having any physical skin in the game.”
Pederson began having deep, meaningful discussions with his new team members. Instead of telling them what he wanted them to do – like he might have done in the past – he turned the focus to them. What did they want out of their careers? What were their motivations? Were they interested in financial freedom? Did they want to buy a home? Or was their goal to have a flexible schedule so they could spend more time with their families?
“Those were incredible conversations,” Pederson said. “And because of those conversations, we were able to place people in the positions they aspired to and right from the start, everyone began working toward what they wanted to accomplish. It really got them excited about the possibilities that existed for them.”
Now after just a little over a year in business, Endless Poxybilities is thriving and has grown to a team of six. And Pederson is committed to scaling and building the company to help his team turn their visions into realities.
“Our goal is to build a company that creates positions for people to get what they want,” he said. “That’s just kind of our mindset.”
Whether you’re looking to start your own company or you’re hoping to take on a management role with your current organization, here are some of Pederson’s tips on how to be a strong and effective leader:
- Give your employees something to work toward every day: Pederson and his team recently worked a 16-hour day – and it wasn’t fun for anyone. “No one wants to do that,” he said. “And they didn’t do it because they love working a 16-hour day. They did it because they’re working toward something.” Whether it’s a pay raise or a promotion to a new position, helping your team set goals and encouraging them to keep their eyes on the prize can be hugely motivating in getting even the toughest jobs done.
- Set clear deadlines and provide a roadmap for people to follow: Let’s say one of your employees tells you she wants to move into sales. Well, it’s a lot easier for her to get there if you can show her a clearly defined plan that outlines the training she will have to complete and the timeline that she needs to follow. This not only helps empower your employee to take control of her career, it also holds you as a leader accountable for making sure you’re setting her up for success.
- Continue the conversation: Talking about your employees’ ultimate goals is great. However, it can’t be a one-and-done discussion. Pederson has weekly meetings with his crew leaders and his salesperson to discuss operations, but he also does company retreats where everyone can talk about their goals and visions and clarify and change them if need be. It’s also a time where people can ask questions, voice concerns and talk about any roadblocks that may be holding them back. By keeping the lines of conversation open, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and committed to working together toward a common goal – even if their individual goals are different.
- Involve everyone when making decisions: Pederson, who acknowledges he’s “the least creative person out there,” was initially doing things on his own when it came to developing marketing materials. Then he started getting feedback from his team and thought “why didn’t I talk to them ahead of time?” From there, he realized the value of gathering input from his employees. Now, when they’re considering making a large purchase, he involves everyone in the decision making process. “I made a couple of purchases last year that, in hindsight, weren’t such a great idea,” he said. “Now I know that it’s important to get other people’s ideas and thoughts and we’re doing that a lot more now.” Not only can this kind of collaboration lead to better outcomes, it also helps reinforce the sense of ownership among your team and shows them that their opinions are valued.
- Have faith in your team: “I have this belief that anybody can achieve whatever they want,” Pederson said. “If someone doesn’t believe they’re leadership material but they want to be a leader, they can learn how to do it. I’m living proof of that, and if someone on my team wants to achieve something, we’re going to work together to make it happen.”
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