Unlocking The Potential In Your Team with Saieed Sadeghzadeh

How do you unlock the potential in your people?

The basic constraint in your business is in your people. When you can unlock that potential, you turn your team into an elite team. The million dollar question is how to unlock that potential.

Saieed Sadeghzadeh has some interesting thoughts on how to unlock that potential.

As someone who grew up in the UK to Iranian parents, Saieed experienced two cultures. This sensitivity helped him see the importance of culture.

Working in both helps him to see how dynamics express themself differently.

Now he assesses cultures as an indicator of the health of a team. Saieed was a high performer right out of the gate. But it took him to crash to learn the lessons that help him improve businesses today.

First as a first time manager.

And later confronting the demons that drove him to perform at the expense of his health. Now he shows businesses a pathway to higher performance through:

  • Self awareness
  • Self care
  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Culture


Rob: [00:00:00] What do you see in your work as, some of the most common problems? And why do you think they are and how would you go about solving them? 

Saieed: For me, the biggest problem we’ve got in my line of work.

Saieed: It’s basic stuff sometimes like effective communication, for example, that sounds easy when you say it. But in reality, especially in an organization or in a leadership role, for example, in a team setting, knowing how to effectively communicate. Is significant. And for that reason I tie that back into areas such as self awareness and self care, where the majority of individuals, or let’s say majority of leaders feel like they’re self aware enough, but in reality, they’re not.

Saieed: I think there was a study that recently came out to say 78%. Of leaders believe they are self aware, but when they go through the process of evaluation, it turns out like only 15 percent of them are. It’s a shocking figure, really. For me, that serves as [00:01:00] the basis for being able to project outwards.

Saieed: If you’re not self aware and you’re not able to effectively communicate. That would affect everything else you’re trying to do. 

Saieed: The other issue which I deal with a lot is culture, and that could be both organizational culture in its essence in how it’s formulated, but more importantly, it’s understanding cultural nuances, understanding how different people operate.

Saieed: So one of the things that I enjoyed doing is multicultural leadership and multicultural leadership training, because it provides this whole new world where an individual from the UK, for example, if they were to try to set up base in the Middle East or work with someone in the Middle East, they need to be aware of how their communication.

Saieed: Impacts very differently to how it is in the UK. I’ll give you a little example of that. For example, if you were to send an email to someone in where I am here and say, Oh, [00:02:00] hi, I’m just looking to say, promote my services. I’m coming. I’m looking to see if you can give me a day of your time to come in and talk to your staff about X, Y, and Z.

Saieed: You’ll immediately get rejected. And the reason for that rejection is because the cultural expectation here is to say. Hi, how are you doing? How’s your wife doing? How are your kids doing? Do you know what I mean? And start from a very social point of view before you get into the business conversation.

Saieed: Or speak politics a bit and speak about societal issues first before you get down to business. If someone from, I say the Middle East was to send an email to someone in the UK and say, Hi, how are you? And how’s your wife and kids doing? You can imagine the impact of that and how strange that would be.

Saieed: So it’s stuff like that. It’s very like, analytical, but it happens and it happens more often than we think. And I think that impacts. What you’re trying to do. If you’re a leader and you have a multicultural team, regardless of the setting you’re in, regardless of the [00:03:00] country you’re operating, there’s certain things you need to understand that are different with each individual.

Saieed: And that’s one of the problems that I see is applying a blanket approach. This is one of the problems I talk about often. There’s various leadership models, for example, out there, be it transactional, transformational, whatever it is. And then I don’t think you can really say, I am a transformational leader.

Saieed: I’m a transactional leader. It doesn’t fit in. And even if you do apply that to a multicultural context. And you’re way off because there’s no way you’d be able to project that consistently across every single team and every single person. So that’s where culture comes in and that’s where it’s very important to understand.

Saieed: So the way I see is I start with self awareness. And then look at how we can effectively communicate, compared to the situation and circumstance that we’re dealing with, compared to the team that we’re dealing with and depending on those [00:04:00] situations, what works and what not works. I take that into detail.

Saieed: So those are the two big things, effective communication and self awareness, and then it’s culture.

Rob: There’s a through line through all of those, isn’t there? It’s like you say, the great difference between, how self aware people think they are and how much other people measure them as being, there’s a vast gap. And then when you overlay the cultural nuances, to the individual nuances you can see why there’s so many problems in communication.

Rob: For the sake of everyone else, if you want to give a an explanation and the kind of work that you do. 

Rob: My 

Saieed: work over the last six or seven years, it’s been a mixture of, management consultancy and leadership team, elite team development mixed in with organizational culture, training.

Saieed: development, transformation, change, and then sales and customer service operations, which is more my background. I’m trying to have different aspects and a bit of diversity to the role because I found that [00:05:00] some, in some examples and settings, The organization would benefit more in some, it’d be the individual who benefits.

Saieed: And then I break it down into different areas such as culture, people, process, customers, the broader organization. So that helps me to create a suitable roadmap, be it for the organization or be it for the individual to deal with various aspects of their role. So it’s not simply process focused, it’s, I’ve got self care in there, I’ve got well being in there, I’ve got self awareness in there like we’ve talked about, and then I use that as my USP to be able to say before we deal with everything else, let’s deal with some basic areas first.

Saieed: And then we’ll move into more, let’s say academic areas of management or leadership or team development or whatever it is that the client needs. 

Rob: All the theories and the academic studies are all interesting and useful and helpful. But they’re assuming that you’ve got a certain level of self awareness.

Rob: They’re assuming [00:06:00] a certain level of emotional development, emotional regulation. But very often our culture and the cultures that I’m aware of. There’s been a focus on things and what we do rather than a focus on the self and the emotions and the relationships and the communication skills.

Rob: So we assume that it’s like the Peter principle where people get promoted to the role of where they can no longer operate. or function effectively. And I think most of that comes because, not because of lack of technical skills, but because of self awareness or an ability, like you say, it’s the nuance.

Rob: It’s not a literal application, but it’s being able to take in a lot of knowledge and apply it where it’s relevant. Absolutely. On LinkedIn, you’ve shared quite a lot about the lessons you’ve learned and the journey that you took through a call center. Maybe it’s worth a brief recount of what you learned from that experience and how that helps you now.

Saieed: So [00:07:00] that was a, my first sort of major failure as I would like to call it because that’s where it was being promoted from an individual team member, a salesperson to a manager for the first time and being expected to manage a team for me, in my mind, with my mentality back then, it was a case of, if the team just copy what I do, they’ll be fine.

Saieed: And I noticed it’s much bigger than that. It was, my thinking back then was. It’s a series of events, processes, actions that you take to make a team succeed. And what I completely left out of the equation was the human element of it. The relationships, the trust, the loyalty, the communication, the team building.

Saieed: So I learned that the hard way. Where it opened my eyes to this whole new world of what management is really like, or it should be like, and I say that because, I was fortunate to have a really good mentor at the time that early on in my career, [00:08:00] which is not an opportunity everyone gets.

Saieed: So I’m forever grateful for that. And then being able to work with him. On the areas where it’s not very tangible and that’s how I like to, just to call it. There’s no tangibility to measuring like a relationship in terms of how genuine it is, how effective it is, how influential it is, and those were the sort of areas that were very new to me.

Saieed: And that’s what helped me progress into two subsequent roles in a short period of time, because. I started to understand a lot more about the human elements of leadership, and that’s helped me to this day because it’s a priority when it comes to leadership training, for example, our coaching, the human elements are, in my view, are far more important than the knowledge, the background, the ability, the talent and everything else.

Saieed: So that’s the biggest lesson I’ve probably gained from that experience. 

Rob: Knowing a little bit about you and your [00:09:00] background is you were a high performer, high driving, performer, and like many first time managers, suddenly thought those natural drives of what made you successful, what made you a high performer, and expected much the same from your team.

Rob: Your post shared real humility in the ability, in the ability to reflect on where you were lacking in your understanding and your self awareness, and your ability to communicate to the team. And to motivate the team. You talked about your Mr.

Rob: Miyagi, mentor who, who taught you what you needed to learn. I can see a clear, link between what you learn personally, and now what you teach others to learn. Typically, what do you see is the biggest barrier for someone that you might come across? 

Rob: who’s maybe in that first time role.

Saieed: It’s the lack of ability to be able to widen their view and perspective and stop focusing on just [00:10:00] what you’ve either seen from other managers or other people above you and not being able to prioritize how looking within and looking at the self. It’s a super tool to be able to, guarantee your success as a leader.

Saieed: So that’s something that you don’t really get taught about in any sort of course or training, which is leadership focus. It’s more, the way I like to pitch that is, let’s take you on this journey of self discovery to subsequently make you more successful as a leader. People look at that and think, what’s that got to do with it?

Saieed: Whereas in reality it’s, that’s exactly what it is. the way I see is everyone’s wearing a lens. And I’ve mentioned that quite often, everyone’s wearing the lens, which the lens helps them how it shows them the world that they wish to see. But that lens is made up of a combination of beliefs, values.

Saieed: Past experiences, they are, they all constitute to what that lens is for them. Trying to break that lens or redefine that [00:11:00] lens is very important and it’s very hard work to do, but it’s absolutely necessary in my view, to be able to change, adapt, succeed in a leadership role, for example, because your expectation in leadership role is to be able to influence and impact other people.

Saieed: So I would think. You would have to be able to try and impact and influence yourself first before you can project that to others. And that’s not to be mistaken for the whole, you need to be a heart surgeon to do heart surgery. To, to basically, that’s, you need to be a heart surgeon to mend a heart situation.

Saieed: No it’s one to say that you need to have some understanding of. What sort of factors to look for? If you’re looking to develop someone, for example, you need to have an idea of what sort of things to look for. And you have to have done that for yourself first before you’re able to ask someone else to do it in my opinion.

Saieed: So that journey of self discovery, it then turns into how do you use that to develop others? Whilst [00:12:00] developing yourself at the same time, so that’s the biggest barrier because you try saying to someone your values and your beliefs and everything you’ve, for up till now may be wrong. Let’s shatter that and let’s start from scratch and I’m not a lot of people are going to welcome that.

Saieed: They’re going to be very hesitant to allow you to, they’re going to be even hesitant to speak about it, let alone allow you to guide them and help them change. I was fortunate to be able to go through that once through that massive failure that I’ve talked about earlier, probably two more subsequent failures.

Saieed: But then from a personal point of view, my whole. recovery journey that I had in 2014 due to burnout, perfectionism, procrastination, workaholism. I don’t like to put a label on it, but I think a lot of elements constituted to that. And that also helped me, to double my efforts. And make it twice as important as it is.

Saieed: So one part of it is to do with business. One part of it is to do with personal. And I’d like to mix those two. And like I said, that’s [00:13:00] my USP to mix those two elements together. And use that to coach or train someone or help an organization, especially when it comes to culture, because that’s where it’s very relevant.

Rob: It’s interesting because your business. awareness perspective is going to be limited by your personal. And then your personal is going to be limited by how you work. And there’s a, it’s like a seesaw, like it’s going to spiral, or descend as one increases. It reminds me of John Gottman talks about.

Rob: Couples, he does a lot of relationship research and in couples fighting, and he says that most couples operate on the, under the premise that I’m going to tell you all what you’re doing wrong. Cause come and sit down here and I’m going to tell you everything that you’re doing wrong. Why, how are you doing it wrong and how you can do it better.

Rob: And they’re surprised when people don’t say, Oh, thank you for telling me what I’m doing wrong. And please can you tell me 

Saieed: more. Yeah, it’s exactly the same because, everyone’s so very hyped up about it. And when you start, [00:14:00] the process, be it be an organization or be an individual, it doesn’t matter.

Saieed: But once you start you start to see the resistance and there’s massive resistance to change. So it makes the heart and that I would say that is a single biggest barrier to what I do is trying to make. Because at the same time, you don’t want to really direct and dictate, do you? You want to guide and consult and help and guide the person to reach the answer.

Saieed: But sometimes I just want to, like, say, just forget all that, this is what you need to do. You’re very tempted to do that, but you can’t. So yeah, that’s a significant barrier to it, definitely. It 

Rob: is very difficult. You talked about your Mr Miyagi mentor, and I’m always in awe of people who are like Yoda. They’re so relaxed, and they’re like, go and do this, and then suddenly something goes like that.

Rob: Whereas me, I’m like no, it’s this. And I’m good at seeing patterns. I’m good at, okay, this is what you have to do. It’s up to you whether you do it or not. But there are people who are great, who have that patience [00:15:00] and they’re able to be indirect and they’re able to be more subtle. Yeah.

Rob: In overcoming that. resistance, what’s your style? How much is direct and how much is, the answer, but you’re prompting someone to find it themselves. 

Saieed: I think it’s a mixture. Really. One thing that really helps me, I was worked for me up till now is how I can relate, personal stories.

Saieed: Or provide a good storytelling experience to that individual for them to understand that. And the reason for that is because people relate, they relate to stories, they relate to emotions, they relate to things that they can picture themselves in situations. Once you shift the mindset from work, and this is what you need to do, it’s like telling someone to start doing 100 push ups tomorrow every single day for 30 days, or you’re painting them a picture of how healthier they would be in a month’s time.

Saieed: But it’s walking like by the beach, or let’s say [00:16:00] one month is probably not enough. Let’s say six months and walking by the beach, in clothes that would fit them much better than it does at the moment. And once you paint them that sort of picture, it all makes the process doesn’t become that important anymore.

Saieed: It’s more the result that they can relate to and picture themselves in is what I think motivates them to at least try it. Because it’s easy enough to say, here’s what I’ve done. And I think if you do the same, you’ll expect the results that I’ve achieved. But in reality, that never happens.

Saieed: So it’s trying to tell them that you’ve been there. And that happens. It’s a process of empathy, really, to say, Look, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. And then trying to relate your situation to their situation and say, what do you think about this? So it involves a lot of open questioning, a lot of consulting more than, direct, directives, really.

Saieed: So that’s what I [00:17:00] find really works. I’ve always got this belief, and I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but I just, I have this belief that I think people generally already have the answer to a lot of their questions and problems. It’s just trying to get it out of them. That’s, you struggle with sometimes.

Saieed: Do you know what I mean? And if you can guide them through that process, there’s quite nothing like people believing in their own voice. And if they say something to you that they believe that they’ve reached their conclusion themselves, Then they would do a lot more to carry on with that process than just literally hearing it from someone else or reading it in a book.

Saieed: So that’s the sort of growth that I try to take them down, to reach their own conclusions. And that’s exactly what Mr. Miyagi did for me. He placed an A4 piece of paper, blank one, in front of me and he said, right, talk to me about what’s wrong. What do you think? How can you do that?

Saieed: By the end of that process, which took a few months, that paper then turned into two, three, four, five pieces of paper. And all he did [00:18:00] was, when one paper would finish, It’d be completed. He’d turn it around and say, there you go. That’s what you need to do. So in no part of that, was he directing? Was he writing?

Saieed: Was he saying, in my opinion, this is what you should do. He was just writing my answers down on a paper. And then he turned it around and said, there you go off and do it. And that’s been like one of the most effective exercises that I still do with individuals. 

Rob: Yeah, once someone has the awareness to ask a question, implicit in that question is the seeds of what they think the answer is, and often it’s people needing reassurance or permission more than guidance.

Rob: Clearly it seems from the young you, the superstar performer who then bombed as a first time manager to where you are now helping others to navigate the same journey. A lot of that is, seems to be down to empathy and compassion, and being able to probably deliver the same. I think back then you knew what it took to [00:19:00] succeed.

Rob: It’s just now you’re able to couch it and communicate it better and understand the nuances of dealing with different people. 

Saieed: Absolutely, that’s an excellent way to put it, yeah. And I think, like I said, my personal journey has doubled the experience, doubled the effort. I’ve always stayed connected to that world because I think, A, you’ve never, you’re never really truly recovered.

Saieed: Because you always need to be vigilant. You always need to be aware for example, people who struggle with or struggled with workaholism or addiction. What I found is that you, it’s a daily process, regardless of when was the last time you had a setback or you slipped. You still need to be aware and vigilant because you’re more susceptible to other people to fall back into your old patterns.

Saieed: That’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed connected to that world, and I do currently work as a volunteer, as a, should I say, accountability coach and partner for other people who’ve struggled with the [00:20:00] same experience, be it workaholism, be it perfectionism, be it burnout. I don’t do much coaching in terms, because I’m not qualified to, but I can support, I can be there as an accountability partner and be the ear, and as part of that is empathy.

Saieed: Empathy is massive in that world, as without it, you’d struggle to get through to someone, and people wouldn’t want to talk to you either, because it’s something they could quickly pick up, so for that reason, that’s been very important, and then applying that to. The business side, and individuals, it just, for me, it works wonders because that’s what we’re all are at the end of the day.

Saieed: We’re all human beings before we’re leaders or team members or whatever it is that we are. So empathy is a big part of it. Yes. 

Rob: You talk about change that the makeup of someone, needs to change in order to support the business or behavioral change that, that they want to see.

Rob: So your makeup made you a high performer. [00:21:00] So you were driven, you were perfectionistic, you were, work harder, work longer, and then led to burnout. 

Saieed: Yeah, I would say it was, yeah, it’s, it would come on the sort of burnout. Yeah, from a clinical point of view.

Saieed: Yeah. 

Rob: I’ve always learned from extreme cases and that’s an extreme case of where someone’s mentality has set them up to, work in a certain way. And you’ve had to learn to change that whole framework, that drive, to get the same results without, at the expense of yourself.

Saieed: Yeah, so it’s for me, it was a very strict sort of regimented childhood upbringing. Being constantly told that you’re not good enough until you achieve X, Y, and Z. And constantly being pushed to do more and more compared to other kids. So my age the responsibility. I had was immense, really.

Saieed: And that was never balanced with any sort of healthy outlets or any [00:22:00] hobbies or the passions that are not to do with studying at that age. And then when I got older, it was. almost a natural progression to do everything else quicker than other people who’ve done it. For example, when I’ve had numerous jobs, obviously, as you do as a student anyway, before working in the call center.

Saieed: But from the day that I Started working in the call center. I always had my eye on the managerial role and that was just a result of the conditioning that I had was to seek more. So what that led to was this mindset of. A not enjoying the present not even noticing the present regardless of the fact that you enjoy it or not, because if you’ve got your constant review on the future, then obviously you don’t look at the present.

Saieed: And that’s why I was constantly looking at the next step, what I need to do to achieve that next step. Being promoted was great. I was under 19, I think, yeah, early 19. And then it was, okay, what [00:23:00] do I do now? And so that’s why the failure hit me really hard. Because I know it just brought into question everything I’ve done to that point because I thought achievement success, what the hell is this now?

Saieed: I didn’t have no definition of what failure was. So that really hit me hard. But the subsequent sort of success, let’s say that occurred after it. It did help me in a lot of things, but what it didn’t help me with is still that mindset of carrying on of what’s next.

Saieed: When I was a team manager, I progressed to a sort of senior team manager and then floor manager. And all this happened within a space of say, so two and a half, three years. And then it was. Right. Okay. Now I’m looking to expand my horizons and I moved to a another industry completely because I thought in my mind was right there’s nothing more here to offer.

Saieed: So I need to get out. [00:24:00] So I left, I went to another company and. Within six months, we were told that the office that we were working in is no longer going to be operating. So that was the second big, failure is what I saw at the time. Not personal failure, but failure as in it’s not an ideal situation for me.

Saieed: So then going from that on to the next job that I had, which I was there for a few years, within that time period. Was where I started to question a lot because my life was running at a hundred miles an hour at that point, and now I was in a position where I could step back a bit, look at a broader view, there was no immediate promotions.

Saieed: Upcoming, there wasn’t any opportunities for learning, development, that sort of thing. If I want to do that, I had to do it on my own time. So the more I thought about it, the more I started to panic, the more I started to get stressed, the more I started to think, right, okay, I’ve been here for two years, three years, for [00:25:00] example.

Saieed: The way it’s going, I’m probably going to be in the same job for the next two, three years. I’m now going to start lagging behind everyone else. And that led to sleepless nights. What do I do? Do I job hunt? Do I look around? How do I improve my situation? But because my judgment was very clouded at that point, by all the expectations I had in my mind, if I say, for example, move somewhere else, I would have seen that as a failure again.

Saieed: So I thought I have no way out and that led to a full blown sort of burnout where I just couldn’t carry on and I had to, my wife helped me a lot with that, by the way, to be able to find a program, opt into a program. That’s where my journey of recovery started. And throughout that journey is.

Saieed: When I noticed how much that pressure and conditioning and being expected to be that high achiever is detrimental to my health. It might be good for everything else, but it’s very detrimental to my health. So that’s why mental health is a [00:26:00] priority for me these days.

Rob: And this is where it comes back to the original You talked about cultural difference, communication, self awareness and self care. And this is really where you learned the importance of how do you change that mentality, and make it a set of practices so that you.

Rob: it’s sustainable change. So do you want to talk a little bit about someone who may be in a similar situation and what you found helpful and might be helpful for others in terms of those practices and how changing that behavior and 

Saieed: that outlook? Yeah, the absolute necessity to that first is to admit that there is a problem because I find without the right intent.

Saieed: or willingness, it becomes hard. It was very hard for me to, ask for support because up until then I wasn’t really asking. I hadn’t asked anyone for help or support, because I used to see that as a weakness. If you were to ask someone for help and support, it was only through [00:27:00] my, from a recovery point of view, let’s say not from a business point of view, because that happens all the time.

Saieed: But to admit that you have a problem, you’re not this. Image of expectation that others have from you and it’s okay to ask for help was a big eye opening experience for me because at that point I thought this is my unique experience that nobody else in the world has apart from me.

Saieed: I’ve got all this weight on my shoulders. Nobody understands me and all that happens. And then you enter this world suddenly where you see everyone else. It’s going through the same problems and you think, ah, okay, that in itself is probably easy to, it would easily take 20, 30 percent of the pressure off straight away.

Saieed: Just noticing that there’s other people out there that are going through the same. Do you know what I mean? You relax a little and think, okay, see, there is a chance of you beating this. There is a chance of you changing because you see other people. So for me from a thinking point of view is, 

Saieed: you’re [00:28:00] already very distorted in your way of thinking, because if you think you’re alone, if you think nobody else is going through this and nobody else is understanding you, those are the first three things you need to need to work on because you need to be aware that there are people out there that are going through the exact same situation as you.

Saieed: And then after that, seeking help and being able to speak to someone about it is my first recommendation really, before anything else. Because sharing is caring and research has shown how sharing a problem actually positively impacts the brain and minimizes that problem to a certain extent.

Saieed: So that in itself would start you off on the right foot. And then, if you can seek professional help, then definitely do it. Because I’m not qualified to. To advise on certain practical elements of how the recovery process works because it is unique to each individual, but I would say. Self care is a massive [00:29:00] factor when it comes to recovery, because if you’re not looking after your body, if you’re not looking after, trying to look after your mind, basically you make it, you’ll have a mountain to climb.

Saieed: So for me is start with the small stuff, start with the daily morning routine, start with the exercising, start with the walking in nature, start with the meditation, start with talking to friends. Or start putting together a support network of people who, are there to help you and genuinely have your best interests at heart, and utilize that circle, basically.

Saieed: Because they are a massive help throughout the journey. 

Rob: Who was the first person you reached out to? 

Saieed: My wife.

Saieed: She was completely oblivious to this, and the reason was because I’d made it that way. I’ve made it look like everything’s fine. You have that conversation, don’t you? Where it’s like, are you okay? Yeah, everything’s fine. And then three more times that question gets asked and then the next thing you know you’re sat there for two hours crying over something.

Saieed: So I’ve made it very [00:30:00] hard for her to break in, and it was very surprising to her when I Sat down with her and said, look, I’ve got a problem and this is what it is. I can’t do it anymore. I just can’t. That’s where we looked. Saw him online and we found a program. I found a counselor And I started to communicate with him.

Saieed: And I continue to, to this day, basically. 

Rob: And how did it change your relationship? It made me realize 

Saieed: that, one of the biggest realizations I came to was relationship needs work. As simple as that sounds, but, up until that point, it just wouldn’t cross my mind. And you find out with a lot of people who are, say, workaholics or perfectionists They probably minimize the impact and effect of a relationship, their personal relationships, just because of how less.

Saieed: Of attention they’re giving it. And that was the same with me. I was completely focused on my work and achievements and trying to do the best, and support basically. [00:31:00] And at that point you think that’s it. My job’s done, isn’t it? That’s what I’m here to do. And then I noticed and absolutely not, that is not what you should be doing or thinking you should instead be working on that relationship and understanding.

Saieed: that person whilst understanding yourself and that’s exactly what happened and what is continuing to happen is because once you, understand different parts of you, you then become interested to, to see how other people are in those aspects as well. So I would say it massively solidified our relationship and marriage.

Saieed: So I’m glad I can 

Rob: imagine. Otherwise you would have been. Probably more of a distant figure, someone who was maybe put on a pedestal by others by, for what you’ve achieved and what you’ve done, but not real and not someone who your wife could necessarily relate to in the same way.

Rob: Absolutely. 

Saieed: It’s like you, you almost developed this. Double personality, don’t you, where you’re somewhat of a role model figure at [00:32:00] work, whereas at home you’re not much of a talker, a person people want to talk to. And I think that’s the best way to describe it, really, of what my situation was.

Saieed: So that took a lot of work to be able to put right and be authentic throughout the process, regardless of where you are, who you were and what situation you’re going through, learning to trust yourself and be authentic and honest. It helps massively with that part of it.

Rob: I can imagine also Like you said earlier, 20 to 30 percent of it is sharing. And I can imagine once you, you’re able to open that up, you don’t have them to put on this kind of false mask. And you’re able to share with someone like with your wife and you’ve got that extra support.

Saieed: Absolutely. And it could go either way, Rob, as some people don’t have the time and effort and energy for it because, and that’s particularly happens a lot with addicts. I find is. Once they speak to their spouses about their addiction, if it’s something that they’re not aware [00:33:00] of, some of them just pick up and leave because they just don’t want to deal with it.

Saieed: Whereas in my situation it was different because, she was very supportive in the sense of, Whatever you’re going through in terms of your journey, whether it’s certain things you need to work on in terms of certain things you need to read, certain things you need to do. Because I had this parts of the program were practical steps, and part of it was I had to monitor, evaluate, write down stuff.

Saieed: And my wife would always say, let me read that as well. Not my information, but she wanted to read what the program’s about. So she had a, an idea of what I was going through in terms of what elements are being looked at. And so just so she could be more supportive, if that makes sense. So I’ve been very lucky in that regard as well.

Rob: It does. Just out of curiosity has that changed her? 

Saieed: Yes, it’s, yeah, I would say it has because it’s you have this sort of, I would say the biggest change you have is removing your biases [00:34:00] because you think, someone, then you realize you don’t know them. And then that affects how you think about knowing other people as well.

Saieed: So I think that’s what’s helped her with the process is when people act in certain ways or do certain things. And you may sometimes be quick to say, Oh what are such and such that has helped her to say no, they may have a problem or they may be dealing with something that we’re unaware of. Do you know what I mean?

Saieed: That sort of thing. Yeah, it has massively. 

Rob: So one of the things that you do is you work with elite teams or teams to make them elite. What generally, so what typically would you see? What would the team be like? What would be maybe the symptoms that someone would get you in for? And what would be maybe the process and then the end result?

Rob: I 

Saieed: think some of it is the most obvious ones. would be KPIs where it would deal with sort of absence attrition, churn, that sort of thing would be a good indicator of there’s a problem existing in the team [00:35:00] on the surface, because that’s what a lot of companies see. And it’s documented. The other reasons are more psychological where you get to observe.

Saieed: Communication that happens between the team. So a lot of the times I spent time observing teams, then just walking in and saying, right, okay, I’m gonna have a chat with each of you on that sort of thing. It’s more observing and through the observations is how I find stuff like body language.

Saieed: The amount of time they spend collaborating, talking to each other, how they talk to their manager, how the manager talks to them. And then I create this. Roadmap of specific areas where I need to work on without the individual or the team or the manager, for example, and then we take it from there step by step.

Saieed: The reason I call it elite teams is not particularly because an elite team would like smash another team basically in a certain organization or competition or in competitive terms, because elite is sometimes referred to [00:36:00] in a competitive nature, whereas for me, it’s. Elite is trying to create this harmonized team who are doing their best to work towards a common goal.

Saieed: They’re happy to be there. They’re satisfied. They’re fulfilled. The leader’s the same. The leader’s seen as someone who’s part of the team. And basically, there’s coherence there. And once I, I’m able to achieve that or get close to achieving that with teams, that’s where I’d label that team as an elite team.

Saieed: So it’s not necessarily to do with sort of industry figures, sales and that sort of thing. 

Saieed: As part of that, when you mentioned barriers or symptoms of, that’s where culture plays a big part. Because I believe you can create an elite team in a toxic culture, but you cannot sustain that team for long.

Saieed: So that’s where the cultural element comes. So a lot of times the work expands to more than. a team, it could then be an [00:37:00] organizational thing where I’d say before you even think about Developing this you need to look at your culture first And i’m very direct with that and as you can imagine not a lot of people appreciate Being told that your culture sucks, basically, or because, and I think part of that is because they don’t really understand what it is.

Saieed: Their metrics of how they measure, or see the effectiveness of their culture is very distorted. And that’s. Globally, that’s not to do with any particular country or part of the world or industry or it’s just a global thing like even now company organizations understanding of culture is very different from each other.

Saieed: There isn’t a blanket definition of what makes up. healthy culture. And here’s your checklist. If you take all these boxes, you’re fine. It’s more about the individual setting in the industry, the operating and the environment, the [00:38:00] team, the leadership team, the board, everything impacts it to a certain extent.

Saieed: So you can’t really come up with a formula for it. And that’s where I enjoy it most because it provides that diversity and it’s very situational and dynamic. So when you tell individuals or you tell management, basically that your culture is not ideal, it could go two ways. They either say, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Saieed: Because we’re successful or it could be like, yeah, get in here and let’s see what you can do. And then a few weeks down the line, they start getting upset. Because you’re thinking of things that they don’t like to hear or they don’t expect you to say. And that then turns into a different conversation, really.

Saieed: So that is one of the biggest symptoms I see is the unwillingness to change. Or really change, let’s call it, because everyone gets very hyped up at the start. But then when you get to the nitty gritty of the processes and things you need to change and what you need to do, they’re very resistant, to change [00:39:00] that.

Rob: It’s a bit like many startups, the when someone starts up, it takes a certain entrepreneurial. Outlook and it’s quite scrappy and it’s quite chaotic. And then when the business reaches stage where it needs more order and stability, often it’s not the founder that can, they have to, either step aside.

Rob: Yeah, so that someone else can come in and bring that stability. So when you’re looking at the culture, it’s often, a reflection of the people who were there before. And if that person is the one who isn’t liking the outcome, it’s suddenly very confronting because they had it.

Rob: The culture comes from a certain set of. beliefs, values and, frameworks that they’re operating on. And it’s then, if they have the humility an awareness to be able to change that, which is very difficult. It 

Saieed: is very difficult. Yeah, absolutely. Because you’re questioning their practices and people don’t like to be questioned.

Saieed: Or like I said, the definition is so basic. Where you say, what’s your culture [00:40:00] like? And they’d be like, oh yeah, we’ve got this brilliant Christmas party every year. That’s not why I asked. So it’s those sort of things, but for a lot of companies, it’s perks and benefits and things like that. Then when you start educating them on, this is not really what culture is.

Saieed: That’s when they start saying, Oh, okay. So this is turning into a big project. Sometimes that’s enough to pull them off. All the times it’s a resistance when you question the whole recruitment process. For example, you questioned the onboarding process. You of course start questioning that processes and little practices that they do.

Saieed: That’s when the resistance starts. So that’s your job to overcome that basically. Or again, storytelling for me really helps with that part of it as well. Or examples or case studies I’ve worked with. 

Rob: Yeah, I can see how that would work. I think every relationship is unique, because it’s the dynamics of two different people.

Rob: And so you’ll react in one way with one person, and you’ll find, they have a different dynamic with someone else because it’s the chemistry or the whatever, [00:41:00] the polarities between you. And then culture is it’s like you say, it’s all about nuances. you can’t. Just translate what works in one environment to another because there’s an entirely different dynamics involved.

Rob: What I can see as is running through clearly is the self awareness the empathy. communication and the cultural nuance from your living in the UK, having an Iranian family and your, awareness and knowledge of both cultures.

Rob: So what I’m interested is if you were going to write a book, say a leadership or a team or a business focus book, or give a TED talk, what would the crux of that be? What would the focus be? What would the message be? 

Saieed: It would be highlighting the correlation between psychological elements and human elements translated to business and how those affect business and how those affect how humans work and apply that [00:42:00] further down to leadership.

Saieed: And how effective a leader or a team or an organization can be if they were taking on like initiatives to do with self care, self awareness, being. 

Saieed: The message that would come out of that would be to encourage everyone to go on this little self discovery journey to be able to better understand themselves.

Saieed: Not just understand, probably break themselves and start again, which is what I think sometimes is required, and see the results of how that could massively help them in their work on their careers. So that would be the message. I’m actually thinking of, I’ve set myself a target for 2024 to have my book released at some point or written at some point this year.

Saieed: It’s an ambitious target. But I’m planning on doing that this year, definitely. 

Rob: Great. I look forward to it. Have you started writing it? 

Saieed: I’ve got some information in place. [00:43:00] I know I’m going to write about basically. 

Rob: Let me just check if what I got is basically the summary I see from what you’re saying is the person is the constraint on the business.

Rob: Yeah. And so if you change the person, you open more potential for the business. Absolutely. 100%. I’m going to look forward to seeing the book. I have 

Saieed: got that book for this year, I’ve got a newsletter that I’m hopefully going to release in the next couple of weeks, called harmonize success and the focus of that newsletter is going to be both so stories, articles, insights, tips.

Saieed: Practical from my experience on how to create that work life harmony because of The exact stuff that we’ve talked about and I think that’s the ultimate goal is to create harmony between your work and your life because if you can mix in all those elements from your personal life and translate that into how you work, then [00:44:00] there’s really no distinction between the time that you’re spending in work and outside of work, if that makes sense.

Saieed: So for that reason. I felt that would be a suitable name for the newsletter and that should be coming out hopefully in the next couple of weeks and I’ll release that and provide more information on it on LinkedIn. 

Rob: Brilliant. If someone was listening, what kind of problems, might someone want to call you in for?

Saieed: Whether it be if they want to redefine their leadership journey by, and that’s leadership I’m referring to both individual and organization, through using elements of wellbeing, self awareness, self care, and create a healthy culture in the process. I would be an ideal person to help them with that.

Saieed: But to break that down, they could contact me. For personal development and growth, they could contact me for leadership, specific training, coaching, or help with sales and customer service operations, which is my [00:45:00] professional background. Or if they want to completely revamp their organizational culture, I’d be suitable to speak 

Rob: to.

Rob: And so you mentioned in the newsletters, your quite prolific on LinkedIn. And is there anywhere else? So is LinkedIn the best place for people to find you or? 

Saieed: Yeah, absolutely. If they visit my LinkedIn page, there’s a link there that they could book a call with me, if that’s what they want to do, or send me a message and we start talking on there and seeing we match and I can help them on their journey. Yeah, LinkedIn. 

Rob: Thank you for your time and your patience and for sharing so much of your journey and your story. 

Rob: In the personal story is there’s something universal and I think a lot of people can take a lot from what you’ve shared today.

Saieed: I appreciate you having me, Rob, offering your time and I appreciate your insights as well.

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