1935 – Creating Inclusive Work Environments in a Changing World with Potential Unleashed Consulting’s Jahmad Canley

Navigating Leadership and Culture Transformation in the Post-Pandemic Era

In a recent episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show, host Josh Elledge engaged with Jahmad Canley, CEO of Potential Unleashed Consulting, to explore the shifting dynamics of leadership and organizational culture in the post-pandemic era. Potential Unleashed collaborates with a diverse clientele, including Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, educational institutions, and athletic teams, to drive leadership development and culture transformation. Their discussion highlighted the emerging trends, challenges, and strategies for fostering adaptive, inclusive, and high-performing work environments in today's evolving landscape.

One significant trend Jahmad pointed out is the balance between in-office and remote work, which has become a pivotal aspect of organizational culture post-pandemic. Companies are now tasked with creating environments that support both remote and in-office employees. Actionable strategies include developing flexible work policies, investing in technology for seamless communication, and scheduling regular check-ins to maintain team cohesion. Additionally, Jahmad emphasized the importance of creating adaptive cultures that can evolve with new challenges while retaining their core strengths. This involves continuous feedback loops, leadership training, and celebrating organizational successes to reinforce positive behaviors and morale.

Jahmad also discussed the impact of remote work on diversity and inclusion, noting that it can remove geographical barriers and create a more diverse workforce. However, leaders must be equitable and considerate of individual situations to foster an inclusive environment. Actionable tips include developing inclusive policies, providing diversity training, and encouraging employee resource groups. Creating a culture of belonging through proactive DEI assessments, coaching, and inclusive practices is crucial for fostering a high-performing and inclusive work environment. Jamal's insights underscore the importance of proactive assessment and support for leaders to navigate the post-pandemic landscape successfully.

About Jahmad Canley:

Jahmad Canley has an endless dedication to empowerment and education for all people. He is internationally known as a top level culture transformation consultant, peak performance coach, author and masterful story teller. Jahmad focuses on helping people and organizations accomplish their goals and fulfill their potential in their personal, professional, and organizational lives. His passion for helping others unleash their potential has provided him the privilege of working with top organizations such as Microsoft, Amazon, Western Union, LA Phil Harmonic Symphony, USA Swimming and many more. 

About Potential Unleashed Consulting:

Potential Unleashed is a business coaching company specializing in providing solutions to companies, teams, and individuals of every description through improved performance and increased human effectiveness.

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Speaker 1 (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Are you looking for introductions to partners, investors, influencers and clients? Well, I've had private conversations with over 2000 leaders asking them where their best business comes from. I've got a free video you can watch with no opt in required, where I'll share the exact steps necessary to be 100% inbound in your industry over the next 6 to 8 months, with no spam, no ads, and no sales. What I teach has worked for me for over 15 years and has helped me create eight figures in revenue for my own companies. Just head to up my influence comm and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for great guests. Go to up my influence. Com and click on podcast. I'd love to have you. With us right now. It's jammed. Cannily jammed. You are the CEO of Potential Unleashed. Your found on the web at potential dash unleashed. Com Jamal, thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 2 (00:01:17) - My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1 (00:01:19) - Yes. Please share with us the work that you do, who you serve and and your impact in the world. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (00:01:25) - Thanks so much, Josh. Yeah, potentially. At least we work with all different types of organizations. People often ask me like exactly what industry? And I tell them if they have people. That's pretty much who we work with. So we work with, you know, fortune 500 companies. We work with nonprofit organizations. We work with school districts, colleges and universities, athletic teams. If they again, if they have people, we pretty much work with them. And our work is really designed around leadership development, culture transformation and then also creating cultures of belonging through diversity, equity and inclusion.

Speaker 1 (00:01:57) - All right, so this is the world that you live in. And I'm always curious, you know, what trends you've been observing for the rest of us who maybe just kind of casually see headlines here and there. What are the major trends going on in your world, say, over the past year?

Speaker 2 (00:02:15) - Yeah.

Speaker 2 (00:02:15) - You know, it's a great question. I think one of the major trends that we've seen is. Organizations trying to figure out how to actually adjust. Excuse me? Adjust their culture. And what I mean by that is post-pandemic. Right. And so organizations really trying to find their way of what that new normal is, and what is the balance between how things used to be and how things are today, balancing in office work versus remote work, you know, and all of those different things. It seems to be one of the biggest trends that we're seeing today is organizations really trying to find their way of what is our new culture, how do we not lose the things that are important to us that made us strong, but also how do we create a culture that's adaptive to the new needs and challenges that people are bringing?

Speaker 1 (00:03:01) - are you, you know, based on your client work or what you're observing right now? I know that there was definitely some headlines at the beginning of this year, and there has been right, just about employers like, listen, you know, the work from home thing was great.

Speaker 1 (00:03:15) - is there still that tension or are we kind of figuring our way when it comes to balancing? a little bit of freedom in terms of, location? Where do you see that settling in, or is that still. Not really. Is that not really a topic anymore? Have we kind of moved beyond that?

Speaker 2 (00:03:31) - I think it's still very much a topic and very much a topic when organizations are, when they have new hires. So there's still seeing this tension, if you will, like you mentioned of. Love the job. I'm a great fit for it. However, I'm not sure why I need to move across the country for the job when I feel I can do the job. You know, here, especially with what we're seeing right now with inflation and rates and all those things where I can live in this town with a much smaller overhead, right as far as rent, mortgage, things of that nature versus moving to some of the bigger cities where we know cost of living has gone up tremendously.

Speaker 2 (00:04:12) - And so I think organizations are starting to figure it out a little bit more in the beginning. Again, I think, as you mentioned, during the pandemic, we went to Remote work 2023. We saw a lot of organizations say, okay, time to come back to the office. And now in 2024, what we're seeing is a lot more of organizations and employees really trying to find the balance now of what needs to be in office, what doesn't. And so we're seeing a lot more of flexible work schedules where maybe people are coming into the office three days a week, but having two days that they can flex remote.

Speaker 1 (00:04:47) - Have you seen any overlays? I'm sure you have around? you know, concepts of a diverse workforce and, the availability of work, working remotely. You know, I'm just thinking of, like, our organization and and, you know, we've got some pregnant moms, or recent moms, right? And we all work remotely. So that's, you know, just obviously one population that really appreciates, you know, not having to come into an office.

Speaker 1 (00:05:16) - And so we're we're delighted, you know, that we can kind of meet them based on, you know, what their personal needs are. are there any other, you know, considerations when we think about, you know, how much we enforce that, you know, especially if we also have, you know, goals to make sure that we have a diverse workforce that matches the population.

Speaker 2 (00:05:41) - Yeah, absolutely. Josh so I mean you just hit on one population. But again people with. Possibly immunocompromised family members, people with ailing, you know, parents and all those types of things where they need to be very, very flexible. So, you know, I talk about this a lot in my excuse me, in my work. Sorry about that. for years we thought that great leaders, which were, again, kind of hard to come by, right, to say like a great, great leader, but great leaders often led through this lens of equality. And so, excuse me if I told Josh, no, you can't work from home, then I'm automatically going to tell Lisa that she can't work from home.

Speaker 2 (00:06:21) - Yeah. And people would say, well, you know, but that's fair, right? He's a fair leader. That's a great leader. He said no to Josh, so therefore he has to say no to Lisa. What we're finding is that leaders are needing to to adapt to being equitable leaders. Right. And that means I have to take into consideration, though I may have said no to Josh, I have to take into consideration Lisa's specific situation. Josh and Lisa may have two different jobs and positions. It may require Josh to be in the office, right? Lisa's job may not require her to be in the office again. As you mentioned, Lisa may be a recent mother and expecting mother. So there's all these different factors. And I think for leaders for years, it was just if I said no to one, I automatically say no to the other. When I'm finding is that leaders are doing a really good job of adapting now and saying, okay, we realize we need to take everyone's situation into consideration, and it's not always going to be apples to apples.

Speaker 1 (00:07:17) - I know you do a lot of keynote speaking. Can you tell me maybe some of your keynote addresses, like what's your typical message that you bring to audiences?

Speaker 2 (00:07:28) - Yeah, one that is very, very popular is change in transition, right? And that's one of my favorite topics to speak on. I think it's something that we all experience all the time change the transition. And. Just to give you a bit of what that really looks at. We talk about how so often people see or use those words interchangeably. Right. Change a transition just kind of depends on the day, what word I use. But we asked people three specific questions and this is where it gets really interesting. In your own opinion. Are they the same thing? Are they easy and do they happen at the same time and quickly? What happens in the audience? We I always do interactive keynotes. I don't believe in just lecture format. So people start to turn and talk with their neighbors and you hear this great conversation around.

Speaker 2 (00:08:14) - When I pause and take the time, I realize change the transition are not necessarily the same thing. Two parts to the same process often, but. And then people often see one coming before the other. People often see change happening really fast. Transition taking time. You know, whether it's easy or not depends on a lot of other factors, right? You know, am I prepared and do I have support? Do we have, you know, time and all those different things. So that's a really, really popular keynote topic that a lot of organizations choose. Just because again, I think it's it's something that everyone can relate to. And then as you mentioned, another really popular one is really talking about building that diverse workforce. And how do we do that? We have more generations working in the workforce at the same time than ever before. And so that's, you know, it's own unique thing, right? Yeah. You know, so there's just so many great topics that fall under diversity that really, at the end of the day is about figuring out how do we work at our best together.

Speaker 1 (00:09:09) - Yeah. And what what makes you, what makes you both? What makes you concerned about the future currently? Like, what's concerning you over, like, what you're kind of seeing in your crystal ball. And then also, what do you what do you feel really optimistic about?

Speaker 2 (00:09:30) - What's concerning me the most? I would probably say right now it is the misunderstanding of topics around diversity, equity, inclusion. And I think that's a huge concern for organizations, because one of the things that we know is diverse organizations have a competitive advantage. It's good for everyone. And when we create these cultures of belonging, and again, people perform at their best. But I'm concerned that people have started to think that diversity, equity, inclusion means something different and that it actually means that we're going to start excluding people rather than including people. So that's definitely a concern. what am I optimistic about? I think what I'm most optimistic about is that I see more leaders inside of organizations who are really, really going the extra mile to say.

Speaker 2 (00:10:25) - How do I create this culture of belonging? I want people to bring their best to work every day. I want them to know that they're safe. I want teams to connect. And that's really helpful. And I don't know if you've ever experienced this, Josh, but sometimes an organizations historically we've tolerated bad actors because they were high performers. And they make everyone else's life miserable there. You know, we're allowed to say and do and get away with a lot of stuff and just being jerks. And I'm optimistic because I see more leaders saying, no more, no more, right? Yeah. We appreciate the contributions that you make to the bottom line. And we believe that we can find people who can do that. And also. Work in the space that other people like working in, you know, and work collectively as a team and collaborate. So I'm optimistic about that.

Speaker 1 (00:11:14) - Yeah. Well, and I think that's really good news, right. Because I think that there are a lot more people that just look at where society is today.

Speaker 1 (00:11:22) - And I think a lot of us who may have just been innocent bystanders or may have been afraid to speak up. Yeah. I feel like nearly everyone should feel empowered enough to say, Yeah. You shouldn't say or do that. Like, we we just don't say or do that. Even though even if we're talking to a a peer or, you know, getting word up to a superior, like we have an inherent, at least I hope we have more clarity over. Yeah, that that's not right. That's, you know, you know, ableism, that's, that's that's low key racist what you just said or did there. Right. You know, being able to call it out or more immediate, whereas, again, I think you're right. You know, maybe back in the from my memory in the 80s and 90s that, you know, you just let a lot more of that stuff slide and you just kind of shrugged and said, well, you know, Joe, Joe's just he's just old school.

Speaker 1 (00:12:15) - He's just like that. I like sorry, Joe. Like, you may be like that, but you can't bring that here.

Speaker 2 (00:12:20) - That's right. Josh. Yeah, I mean, that's exactly it. Right? And that's that's what I think is, is amazing. And again, it has me full of optimism that I'm seeing more and more leaders step into that space and saying, hey, you know, not not okay. Not going to be tolerated here. You know, that might again, Joe, that might be even how you talk in your car on your way to work. But once you cross through these doors, that's not okay. And I think that that's hopeful.

Speaker 1 (00:12:49) - Yeah. For sure. tell me about your work within organizations, aside from speaking. Are you consulting as well?

Speaker 2 (00:12:56) - Yes, absolutely. So, yeah, we we do a lot of consulting for organizations outside of the keynote speaking. Right. Keynote speaking is, you know, I would say probably 15% of what I personally do.

Speaker 2 (00:13:08) - But our entire team is what we're really are. We're consulting firm. And so we work with organizations on their journey of, again, increasing their culture, making it a more constructive culture. We work with leaders. I think that that's. In my work and my experience of working with organizations, I find that that's probably the most undeveloped part of most organizations. Leaders find their way into leadership for a variety of reasons, and then once they get there, rarely are they developed. Most people get promoted into leadership because they're really good at doing something. So if we are a paper folding company and you are the best paper folder, guess what? We're making you the manager of all paper folders. It doesn't mean that you have a passion for leading other people. It doesn't mean that we've ever taught you how to motivate and inspire and coach other people. But now here you are and figure it out. And so we find that people end up in these leadership positions without having much development on how do I lead? Right.

Speaker 2 (00:14:05) - And so then what we do is we, we bring in these old models of leadership that we were under. Right. And so if you had a coach who just shouted and yelled all the time, and that's your only reference to leadership and you thought, but hey, but we want a bunch of games, right? Then this is my leadership style. Now is I'm going to coach just like coach used to coach and I'm going to lead just like coach used to lead. So, you know, that's a lot of what we do with organizations is providing the support for leadership because leaders have the biggest impact on culture.

Speaker 1 (00:14:35) - Yeah. so your website is potential dash unleashed. tell me about your friend that's been listening to us right now. and they're, you know, they're they're looking for leadership. They know that there's some, you know, some some cultural things that they, you know, they just want to stay, you know, it's not even like they have problems to solve. They just want to stay fit.

Speaker 1 (00:14:57) - You know, they just want preventative, you know, they just want to stay ahead of the curve. Because that's one thing I know about Dei is if you wait until there's a problem. You waited too long, right? Yes, but but tell me about, you know, for for any leader that's listening to this, what you would recommend their next steps from this conversation be. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (00:15:17) - You know, I think that for any leaders to really start to assess, if you haven't already done so, to assess how are people experiencing the culture. Right. And here's the really key thing, especially when you talk about it through the Di lens, is not to do just a general assessment, whatever that means. So whether you're having a listening session, town hall survey, whatever it is, but to also be able to break that down into the different demographics, there's a architecture firm that we work with who overall amazing, amazing culture, you know, off the charts. And then when we were able to look at the the subgroup data, we found that women were experiencing the culture much different than the men.

Speaker 2 (00:15:57) - Men felt they were, you know, supported. They had opportunities to grow and all of these things. And, you know, it was great, you know, a culture that they could thrive in. And the women had the exact opposite. And so when people are assessing the culture, I think that's really key. And it's not something that you do once, it's not something that you do twice. You want to always keep your your finger on the pulse. Right? Like you said, you want to be proactive in that. So constantly checking in with people reaching out. And I'm not talking about putting out surveys every 3 or 6 months. I mean, just again in conversation with people and you're one on ones asking those questions, you know, staying ahead of it, staying ahead of the curve. So I think that that's one step that they can do. And then to. regardless if it's us or someone else. If you find that there are areas that there are gaps. Reach out to someone who can help you.

Speaker 2 (00:16:43) - And I say it this way all the time. With leaders, it's important to let go of that thing that says, as a leader, I'm supposed to know it all. Right. It's okay to say, hey, this is a little bit out of my wheelhouse. I need some coaching on this. And when I worked with the US Olympic Swim team, March, Mark Schubert was the coach at the time. And he simply said to me, you know, here's the reason why we're doing this. He said, if you wanted to learn how to swim German, you're not going to just hop in a lake, right? He said, you're going to find a good swim coach. If you want to teach your kids how to swim, you're going to probably take them to a place where, you know they can take lessons and they may go on to become great, like Michael Phelps, he said. But Michael Phelps didn't get to where he is without having good coaches, and that's the way that I think leaders should always approach this work is that if there are areas that you want to develop because.

Speaker 2 (00:17:37) - For whatever reason. Again, you don't have a problem, but you just want to get better at it. Find yourself a good support system, a good coach, a good consultant who can really help you, who is a subject matter expert. And again, at the end of the day, what people care about are results. They don't care about how you got right. So they don't care if you let the work or if you brought someone else in who helped you learn how to lead the work. What people want to know is that we're going to have a better culture at the end as a result.

Speaker 1 (00:18:03) - All right. Gemma Kennelly again, your website is When you go to the website, obviously there's a contact form I would imagine you do. Conversations with folks and kind of assess and see if you can be of help, you know, that sort of thing. but, you also have, your good social media follow on LinkedIn, by the way, and you've got, yeah, listed here.

Speaker 1 (00:18:30) - You've got some great programs. again, I just urge anyone that's, that's interested in this topic. Spend some time with you you've worked with, by the way. lest anyone think again, you you're small potatoes. You've worked with organizations like Amazon, Microsoft, Remax, Western Union, a lot of, colleges. So congratulations on your success and impact.

Speaker 2 (00:18:55) - Thank you so much, Josh, I appreciate it.

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