We are excited for you to meet Jeff Flowers, COO, and CFO at OneRail. Flowers holds an extensive background in leading high-level operations and finance for organizations across multiple verticals, including supply chain shipping and access control technology. As an early investor turned COO and CFO, Flowers has played an exponential role in bringing the OneRail vision to life. Flowers’ experience as the General Manager for one of the nation's largest building products distributors gives him a general awareness and unique perspective to the problems our shippers feel on a daily basis. As a leader here at OneRail, Flowers aims to lead collaboratively by offering his advice and expertise, while ultimately watching others take the lead. OneRail is lucky to have him on the team!
How would you describe your leadership style?
“My leadership style is very collaborative. As cliche as it is, it really is about the team. It has to be. It can’t possibly be an autocracy; it has to be a democracy. We all have to have a voice that needs to be heard.
I really believe in the concept of “presenting the fish - which represents the importance of sharing all ideas. If you leave the fish under the table, it becomes a problem - in so many different ways. As a leader, I encourage thoughtful contribution by everyone, whether it is good or bad. This is how we can ensure all ideas are heard, and not wasted.”
What is one piece of advice you can give to up-and-coming leaders?
“Pick up the phone. I think too much time is spent in the digital world - and while I know there is value and productivity, I think we are missing out on the relationship side of it. Relationships are absolutely critical in tough situations, especially when you are working through complex or complicated problems. It is important to have both the trust and belief of a relationship to get to a result, that everyone agrees on. If I could advise one thing to young leaders, I would say to be very cognizant of maintaining relationships in a digital world, especially as we continue to shift into a work from home, zoom world.”
As an organization expands, there can sometimes be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?
“We have to put people in the right places, who are supportive of our culture. It is important to be thoughtful about who owns your culture. When you have installed a culture that is incredibly supportive of the employees and the way the organization is, we need to make sure we maintain that, and it doesn't slip away.”
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
“Humility and vulnerability. You must be able to admit when you do not know something, and that takes vulnerability. Humanity and vulnerability tend to come together. You must be willing to admit mistakes and you must be willing to celebrate them. It is okay to try something, be wrong, and celebrate it- and say we were wrong. However, you have to learn from your mistakes to make sure history does not repeat itself.