How I ‘Duplicated the Success’ I Had as an Individual Contributor in a Leadership Role

Sponsored by Sunrun

Kendra Boost. Photo courtesy of Sunrun.

Kendra Boost. Photo courtesy of Sunrun.

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Kendra Boost got her start in the solar industry 11 years ago when she answered a door-to-door solar sales ad on Craigslist. Although she didn’t know it at the time, this would be the first step in a spectacular career journey. 

In this role, Boost tells Fairygodboss that she was the top sales rep for a few years before making the move into management, albeit reluctantly at first. “I was nervous about it because I really liked being an individual contributor and was nervous that I wouldn’t be as good at leading people as I was at accomplishing things myself,” Boost recalls. 

Flash forward to today, however, and Boost has shown that she is a fantastic leader — in fact, she’s the director of sales for Coastal Southern California at Sunrun. In this role, she oversees 15 managers with teams of their own, some of which are in-home sales teams and others of which are in-store lead generation teams.

Even though at first it was challenging as a leader to figure out how to “duplicate the success” she had as an individual contributor, Boost now finds her job as a director incredibly fulfilling. “Being a key part to growing a business is rewarding,” Boost tells us. “You have a really big hand in the success of your territory… You have to figure out how to select the right people and work through them — help them be the best leaders they can be and guide them with what you’ve learned along the way.”

Reflecting back on her journey to management, Boost says that the top piece of advice she has for women moving into leadership roles like she did is to “isolate the 20% of your business that is going to move the needle 80%.” In order to achieve this, “be relentless about that priority and be able to explain it simply,” she elaborates. “This will provide you with clarity on what does and doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of your (and the company’s) goals. It’s that focus that enables you to work and speak effectively about priorities, and put to the side the small things that might cloud your impact.” And this is only the beginning of her great advice!

Here, we caught up with Boost to learn more about finding her passion, her top advice, and more.

You’ve gone on an amazing journey! Can you tell us how you found your own passion, purpose and voice at work?

Besides being passionate about winning, like any salesperson, I’m also passionate about two things (both of which I struggled with early on and had to learn for myself): 

  1. Teaching people how to gain influence over their work and lives.

    • This is useful in business and in life. A large part of increasing your influence is understanding what things you don’t control (e.g., the weather, interest rates, the Rams winning) and becoming more effective at figuring out how to influence things on the fringe of what you do control, so that you can be super powerful.

  2. Helping people see opportunity where others see challenges.

    • This is fundamental to working in an industry with a lot of change. The longer you spend being frustrated about a new challenge or change, the less time you spend finding a solution and winning. One value my teams live by is: “Where others see challenge, we ditch the excuses and look for the opportunity.”  While everyone else is out whining about a problem or taking a break to feel out a dilemma, we see the chance to figure it out faster and better than everyone else and be the models for success.

What advice do you have for others who are looking for their passion or voice at work?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people is one of several books that helped me understand influence and self reflection. If you’re short on time, just watch clips on “Circle of Influence” on Youtube.

Looking back on your career, what would you say has been your most valuable career mistake?

Being reactive instead of proactive. You can let the day happen to you, or you can happen to your day!

Next, let’s talk about Sunrun’s culture. What’s your favorite aspect of it, and how does Sunrun Solar help you succeed?

I love Sunrun’s culture of fun and recognition. We aren’t afraid to give props to the people who show excellent contributions and skill sets in various areas. We all want to learn from each other and become the best we can be by adopting the best practices from others. We really tackle this Frankenstein approach in our daily pursuit to be better than yesterday.

What advice do you have for someone new to your industry?

Start on the ground floor and be humble. Reflect, learn, watch, and implement. Be the master of your current role to earn your next one. The more you pour into being effective at the role today, the more you’ll stand out tomorrow.

Finally, what’s the most memorable piece of career advice that you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve received is to understand that every other department has a unique set of challenges and priorities. Working effectively across departments is figuring out how to better understand their circumstances (or at least approach with curiosity) and use it to unify you in your purpose to get the results you need.

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