Significant is Successful: Latest Guest Speaker Shares How to Add More Meaning to One’s Professional Relationships

Shawn Jones profile picAs part of the “All I Know So Far” series, Toyota Industries Commercial Finance welcomed Shawn Jones, President of Toyota Material Handling Midsouth, who shared how he developed as a leader by communicating with honest compassion, prioritizing a positive mindset, and breaking down what “success” really means. 

During his more than twenty-year career in material handling, Shawn Jones has lived in nine different cities, visited all fifty states, and stepped foot in every Canadian province. Despite his frequent flyer status, there’s one thing that has remained consistent in his career: a great mindset.

Shawn worked hard to develop a positive mindset. He once defined success by the material things he could achieve, such as higher pay or a better title, but this only left him unfulfilled with his work. He recalls wondering why he was striving so hard—and what success really looked like to him.

The answer lied within his perspective. “When my career shifted from focusing on being monetarily successful, to focusing on being significant to those I worked with, everything changed,” he says. “I really believe that success is a byproduct to being significant to the people around you both in your personal and professional life.”

“Success is a byproduct to being significant to the people around you.”

To Shawn, being a valued and impactful member of the team and organization is a better measure of success than any title or position. There are many ways to increase your significance and contribute to your team, he explains, but taking the time to develop a solidly positive mindset is key.

As a leader, Shawn regularly checks in with his team. If someone is going through a particularly stressful time, from COVID-19 to cancer to career decisions, Shawn makes sure to offer encouragement and support first and work on strategy second.

Shawn also recognizes the importance of communicating with honest compassion. Positive affirmations of a team member’s actions are not always warranted, he explains. As a leader, Shawn knows it is his responsibility to have difficult conversations, and that sometimes a redirection can allow a team member to truly thrive. Shawn calls this compassionate accountability. The careful balance of accountability and empathy is one way Shawn values significance over success.

Shawn also offers advice to new, individual contributors as well. Again, he stresses the importance of becoming a significant contributor. He asks, “What have you, as an employee, done to get better engagement with leaders as it relates to your personal development, and what you need to do to be successful?” He explains that taking initiative and asking for career conversations can help fast-track personal growth.

Ultimately, becoming that valued contributor means understanding how to be significant to other individuals, to teams, and the organization.