Five years ago, I called Matt Plante and asked if he’d be my co-founder to build a distributed energy resources company that would allow us to spend our days “doing well by doing good,” or, put practically, making a good living making the world a better place, doing our small part to tackle the global energy challenge. After a comical pause so characteristic of Matt’s charm, he said yes and we got to work immediately.
In agreement that we wanted to set in motion something world-changing, we knew that we needed to think about the fundamental expectations of leaders, which in those days were me and Matt, soon to be joined by our CTO, Neil Lakin.
In honor of our five year anniversary (and the fact that we’re doubling our team size over the next 12 months with a need for more leaders across every function), we’d like to share the five expectations we have of all leaders at Voltus, which we nurture to this day and work hard to live up to:
- First and foremost, they exemplify our values: A Voltus leader needs to be among the brightest, grittiest, and good(est). At the leadership table, we talk about all candidates, leadership or otherwise, along the spectrum of bright, gritty, and good, because our cultural values are our true north. When difficult decisions need to be made, our leaders make those decisions through the prism of our values. The leadership team, pictured above, exudes these values.
- They innovate: We started with a fundamental mission of delivering more dollars for DERs than anyone in any market. If you’re going to start a business, you have to have a great idea and you have to continually innovate to stay ahead of the competition. Leaders develop great ideas, champion those ideas to gain support (i.e., make a great business case), execute the ideas, and deliver the results expected. Practically speaking, this can take many forms: a new product idea, a process that makes us more efficient, a newly discovered market opportunity, a hidden source of capital. We need and expect our leaders to extend our competitive advantage, and that happens through innovative ideas.
- They build world-class teams: Great leaders attract, hire, retain, and inspire teams to accomplish great things while ensuring happiness and productivity. You know when you’re working with a great leader because you’re locked into the mission with them. You don’t feel like you have a boss. You want to work hard because you have an amazing teammate who helps make you better and supports your success. Matt and I said, “We gotta surround ourselves with people far more talented than us or we’re not gonna get very far!” When I review the LinkedIn Voltus roster, it’s an embarrassment of riches, and for that we’re most grateful and proud.
- They are passionate practitioners: We don’t hire leaders who hire consultants to tell them how to do their job. We hire leaders who are passionate about being functional experts, who seek out, formulate, and implement best practices in their functional role. They are fascinated with the craft, comparing their results to world-class benchmarks and honing their skills and their team’s skills to be the best. Look no further than Dana Guernsey (the world’s leading DER energy markets expert and product guru), Fran Parker (the world’s best salesperson), or Jon Wellinghoff (the godfather of DERs!) … these are the women and men in the arena!
- They deliver results: Great leaders make no excuses. They take 100% accountability for their results and they find a way to deliver on the plan. If they don’t, then they learn, they share lessons, they reformulate, and they double down. The great news is that our leaders architect our plans, charting the course ahead. But, let’s face it, banks require us to pay our mortgages. The tax collector never gives us a pass. Our kids are accustomed to eating three meals a day. Leaders have to deliver or it all falls apart.
We’re incredibly proud of the work accomplished to date. We’ve created 150 exceptional jobs, we’ve delivered more than 2,000 MWs of distributed energy resources to all nine US and Canadian power markets, we’ve delivered millions of dollars in cash to our customers, and we’ve done it with the cleanest electricity market resource on the planet (the cleanest kW is the one never used).
Yet, there’s so much more to accomplish. Today, the vision may remain the same (to be the distributed energy resources platform that accelerates the promise of the energy transition), but our sense of urgency and the market opportunity is exponentially bigger!