How Business Leadership Has Shifted
Predictive Analytics 01.25.2023

How Business Leadership Has Shifted

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In this Sunny Side Up episode, host Jason Goldenberg interviews Jay Suggs, the Senior Director of New Business Development for Strategic Accounts and former Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Johnson Controls. They discuss how the concept of business leadership has evolved from managing to actual leadership over the past decade. Jay talks about his work in building and deploying diversity and inclusion initiatives within Johnson Controls, and his belief that inclusivity is essential for effective leadership. They also discuss Jay’s role in cultivating new opportunities and clients as the director of business development for strategic accounts, and the exciting trajectory of Johnson Controls’ digital platform and new platform solution, Open Blue.

About the Guest

Jay Suggs has an extensive professional sales and business development background with 20 years of progressive experience building robust, lasting partnerships. Jay currently serves as the Senior Director of New Business Development for Strategic Accounts and is the former Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Johnson Controls. In his D&I role, Jay worked in partnership with the Corporate Diversity & Inclusion team to build and deploy enterprise D&I initiatives within the organization – such as unconscious bias training, talent acquisition, and career development programs for a global team of 100,000 experts in more than 150 countries and over 135 years of innovation. His impact in this role was worldwide.

Jay’s mantra for life is “be relentless in all that you do, and you will always increase your odds to win!” His humble beginnings in Newark, NJ, and his rise within the Johnson Controls Fortune 100 company provide a true example that you can dare to dream big and conquer your goals.

Connect with Jay Suggs

Key Takeaways

  • The concept of business leadership changing from managing to actual leadership has shifted over the past decade. 
  • Inclusivity is crucial for effective leadership in today’s business climate.
  • The more diverse a team is, the greater the chances of success.
  • Challenges and growth opportunities are important for leaders and their teams to reach their goals.
  • Leaders must be humble, serve others, and operate at a higher emotional intelligence level in order to be successful.
  • Sales are the ultimate catalyst for success and can be a great way to help others, especially if you are a beginner. 


“The more diverse your team, the stronger chances that you’ll have at hitting your targets.” – Jay Suggs
“You gotta challenge your own bias. You gotta regroup, recharge, reflect to see if you even have the capacity to come from a place of empathy because it’s not easy being a leader. It’s a serving role,”. – Jay Suggs

Highlights from the Episode

What are you up to at JCI and generally these days?

Jay Suggs is the director of business development for strategic accounts at Johnson Controls. In this role, Jay and their teamwork cultivate new opportunities and clients for the company, which Jay enjoys. Jay is also an inclusive leader and believes that inclusivity is necessary for effective leadership in today’s business climate. Jay believes that a diverse team can lead to stronger chances of achieving targets and success, as having a variety of backgrounds and experiences can provide a range of perspectives. At Johnson Controls, the culture values uniqueness and creativity, and Jay works to impact the company in this direction. The company is currently focusing on its digital platform and new platform solutions, Open Blue, and it is an exciting time to be a part of the company.

What was business and selling like when you started your career? What was your perception of leadership?

At the beginning of Jay Suggs’s career, business and selling involved a lot of prospecting and relying on phone books to find leads. To establish a connection with potential clients, it was important to establish rapport and create a “love match.” However, with the advent of the internet and the abundance of information now available, selling has become more focused on using online resources to gather information about clients and aligning with their interests and goals. This approach, which Jay refers to as “smart calling,” involves being disciplined and focused to stand out in the “buffet” of options available. 

Could you share your perspective on the shift in leadership style to today’s leadership style?

For Jay, the leadership style has changed significantly over the years. In the past, leadership was often characterized by a single individual in a position of authority with a closed-door office. These leaders were often only concerned with sales, short-term goals, and the pipeline for the future. There was little emphasis on personal engagement or understanding the needs and motivations of team members. Today, the focus is on leading with kindness, empathy, and a deep understanding of team members’ strengths, growth opportunities, and motivations. This shift is driven in part by the changing needs of employees, who are facing a range of external challenges such as the pandemic and social injustices. To effectively lead and support their teams, leaders must be able to look inward, challenge their own biases, and come from a place of empathy. This requires a different approach to leadership, one that is focused on serving the needs of the team and helping them navigate these challenges.

What makes a good leader today?

Jay believes that a good leader today should possess humility, as demonstrated by his own experience of being humbled early in their leadership career. Jay also emphasizes the importance of serving others and operating at a higher level of emotional intelligence, which includes thinking carefully before making decisions or reacting to situations. This involves considering the perspectives and state of mind of others, as well as what is best for the customer or organization. Jay also emphasizes the need to be a “broker of hope” for one’s team and to find common ground to ensure that all parties feel heard and respected. 

What makes you so passionate about your craft?

Jay is passionate about sales because it allows expression in his career. He believes that sales provide an outlet for creativity and allows people to create initiatives and projects that can drive momentum. In his view, sales are a profession that allows for accomplishments, adversity, and achievements, much like life itself. They also value the opportunity to share stories of overcoming difficult challenges, which they believe is a key part of sales. Additionally, Jay also emphasizes that sales are a good career for go-getters who are motivated by success and enjoy overcoming challenges. He believes that sales are the “ultimate catalyst” for these individuals.

Is there a book, blog, newsletter, website, or video that you would recommend to our listeners?

A book:  


 Ronnell Richards – Author of Shut the Hell Up and Sell, Founder at Business and Bourbon LLC.

Matt Rogers – Entrepreneur, Sales Professional, and TV Host.


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