Four Lessons of Leadership From Startups to Corporations

Early in my career, I joined a technology startup as employee #19 of what would later become a midsized technology company, delivering cloud-based services before the term “cloud” even existed. It was exciting to be at the forefront of technology – a place I have also often found myself during my four and a half years here at Jabil.  

It was an amazing experience working for a startup; it was a time of team work, successes, failures, many long nights and lots of pizza, but it wasn’t until I had been in the industry for many years that I realized all the things I learned from those early-career experiences. Working as employee #19 shaped the rest of my career, including the way I work, innovate and lead my team now.  Four lessons have guided me throughout my career and helped me find success in my professional development.  

First, work over your head, and by that, I mean, if the work is easy, then you’re doing the wrong work. People, companies, teams grow by pushing beyond what comes easy. This is a fundamental part of the Jabil culture, too – work with ingenuity and innovate. We can’t progress if we don’t push ourselves or our teams.  Recently, my team has been working on a new AI based Virtual Assistant for the Enterprise.  It’s an exciting new technology but the key is to understand your customer and to solve real business problems.  

Second, goal setting is critical.  A team with a truly common goal, a single mission, will find a way to work together to be successful.  Last summer in St. Petersburg, I participated in our Joules Regional Power Forum and spoke to my discussion group about this exact topic. It’s important everyone understand everything down from our company goal to our department one and finally the team goal. Then, we can each individually find out how each of us has diverse strengths that combine with our team’s to play an integral part in the overall success of our company.  

Third, don’t quit, often you’re closest to the solution just when things seem impossible.  Find a way.  A recall a time early in my career on a project, with a tough customer, where nothing seemed to go right; resource issues, technology issues, schedule issues. I pushed through by putting in the extra time to be prepared, transparency with my customer and most importantly sought out candid feedback from people I trusted. In the end, the project was given the highest customer satisfaction rates on any project to date.  

Finally, “pick up the broom.” If there’s work to be done, then do it; if a coworker is struggling with something, then help them. It can be as simple as cleaning-up the breakroom to picking up a tough task or presenting a team project, but along the way, you will learn something new, meet someone you hadn’t known before and ultimately, help your company.

Ande Johnson
Article Contributed By:
Ande Johnson
Senior Information Technology Director

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