Being able to lead a team has its challenges, whether it be from an office or while out in the field, the job of a leader isn’t an easy one. But great leaders take those challenges head-on and do everything they can to support their team from their office or alongside them on the front lines.
Kevin Green is a leader both in his office and out with his team on the front lines of the waste industry, ensuring to stay in the loop of every aspect of his company and putting a face on the hard work he does. That hard work has paid off professionally inside and outside Waste Connections by earning one of Waste360’s 40 Under 40 awards.
Kevin Green, district manager, Waste Connections, has been with the company for nine years, where he is responsible for district operations that earn over $100 million in revenue annually. But he didn’t get there alone. Green attributes his success to the people around him.
“I’m definitely blessed. Waste Connections really focuses a lot on people. Helping people grow [and] giving them the tools they need to learn. If you have a goal in mind on where you want to go, the people around you are going to help you get there,” said Green. “[The] people around me took and chance and wanted to see me succeed and then supported me and made sure that we had the support and help along the way.”
Green has never shied away from being on the front lines with his teams. When discussing the importance of having an office role but continuing to be in constant contact with his frontline workers, Green stressed the importance of being seen and being a felt presence with his teams. In addition, knowing them personally and understanding people is the right thing to do when building a strong fellowship and creating the best team possible.
“I can’t stress enough, from a leadership perspective, how important it is to be seen, how important it is to be available to people, how important it is to set the tone, and make sure that the expectations are clear,” said Green. “And then, getting to know people. Being out in the field and knowing people’s names or families’ names and their hobbies. Just really understanding and knowing people, I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Green spoke at the Rising Leaders in Waste panel at WasteExpo 2023 alongside other 40 Under 40 award winners. When asked about his philosophy on what makes a great leader, Green shared that at Waste Connections, they take the servant leader approach, meaning the needs of the employees are put first and empowering teammates.
“Our servant leadership approach has been very important and a very valuable leadership style for this company and the way that we operate. It’s really helped [to] empower folks,” Green said. “I’ve had a lot of frontline folks bring ideas to me where I’m like, “That’s a great idea; let’s give it a shot.”
“Watching other folk’s personal and professional growth has been very cool. I think that’s a very important part of being a leader, making sure that you’re helping others be successful.”
On how to grow within an industry or organization, Green stresses the importance of being hungry. Hungry to be successful, hungry for knowledge, and hungry for what’s next. Offering advice on how to be seen and stay on track, Green suggests finding a mentor or sitting down with a superior and having regular conversations with them to share experiences, learn, and get advice for growth.
Green admits that he is not great at putting himself out there and that even he gets nervous but taking that leap and knowing that just raising your hand and telling someone you want to keep growing can be very important. Make it known that you’d like to grow within the company and ask questions about how you will inspire leaders in your organization.
While the commitment to being a great leader at Waste Connections has earned Green a 40 Under 40 award, winning wasn’t his favorite part of this process. That distinction belongs to the process of being nominated by his peers and knowing that his team believed he was doing a job worthy of an award.
“I was stoked, man. It’s cool to represent the company, to represent the industry. It’s really exciting that we have so many young people doing so many great things in the business, right?” said Green. “What I do, I love doing it right, and I think my favorite part of that is that people nominated me to be there. There were people out there that felt like I was doing a good enough job to put in a nomination to get this award. That’s pretty cool.”