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Transcript: Leading in a World of Change (EP19)


Intro (with music): Welcome to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. This is a podcast where we talk all things, culture, leadership and teamwork across business and sport.


Hello, everybody. I'm Brendan Rogers, the host of The Culture of Things podcast. And this is Episode 19.

Today, I'm speaking with Sam Sooialo. Sam is the Owner and Director of Profit & Values. His areas of specialty include Executive Coaching, Business Change and Cultural Transformation, where he specifically focuses on bridging the gap between Operations and HR.

Sam is also heavily involved in the local community and is currently a Non Executive Director on the Boards of three local Not for Profit organisations.

His previous roles have included IT Consultancy, Director of Operations for Roland Digital Group based in the UK and Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Director for Long Service Corporation at New South Wales Treasury.

Sam did what probably a lot of people would love to do. He took a career break over the 2016/2017 financial year and traveled Australia with his family in the 4x4 and caravan.

The focus of our conversation today is ‘leading in a world of change’.

Sam, welcome to The Culture of Things podcast, mate.

Sam Sooialo: Thank you, Brendan.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, it's been a long time coming. You and I spoke many, many, many months ago now in a cafe, a while ago, even before I did my first episode, I said, “Hey, I've got to get you on the podcast.” So, it's great to have you here.

Sam Sooialo: Oh, it's great to be here. Yes, it has been a long time coming.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, how about you give us a bit of, I've given a brief introduction on what you're about. How about you put your own slant on your career journey and where it's brought you today?

Sam Sooialo: Well, I guess career wise, Maccas is probably where it all started. Hello to all the Maccas people out there. When I was doing my undergraduate degree, I was working part-time at McDonald's and that's actually where I learnt a lot of the business processes and production planning and so on that a lot of businesses implement when they're actually making a lot of changes and I've sort of taken that mindset into my career.

But in addition to that, if we're talking about change in particular, you'd have to go back to where I grew up. And I guess this is part of my story. I was born in the beautiful Pacific Island of Samoa. You know, those kids that run around in bare feet that grew up in a grass hut. That was me. That was my life. And my family migrated to New Zealand when I was 10. So, there's a change that I had to adapt to very early on. And so, I've enjoyed doing new things and having new experiences. Hence, it's probably the reason that I've gone into this type of career.

Brendan Rogers: I want to also ask, in the introduction I talked about, you had this career break back in 2016/2017. You know, you've got a family, you travel around in the caravan, the 4x4 for twelve months. What was that experience like? And what did that teach you?

Sam Sooialo: It was a fantastic experience. It's probably the best investment that we've made on our family. You know, as I said, I grew up in a very simple life, in the islands. And so, I wanted my own children to have that perspective. My wife is English and the kids were all born in England so they're half-casts. And I've been fortunate enough in my life, in my career that I've had opportunities and I've been able to earn a good living. And so, yeah, they'd been born with a silver spoon in their mouth in comparison to where I grew up and I wanted them to have a perspective of what it's like to grow up poor without feeling guilty about the fact that, you know, we live in a very privileged world. So, it's just having that concept.

And us, being able to take that trip, it did quite a few things. It allowed me a bit of downtime to rest, I mean, restructuring and doing changes does impact leaders in particular. And I was leading quite a number of restructures and, you know, you're having to deal with a lot of emotions, and it sometimes gets to you as well. So, I needed a break and that was a great opportunity. My wife had also been home with the kids for, I think it was a period of ten years. We're quite a traditional family and she's a nurse. So, she also wanted to transition back into the workforce. And so again, that was another reason for us to take that particular trip so that we could make that transition.

And the kids too, I think, often, they're forgotten when couples make that transition between who's going to work, who's staying, are both parents going to work again? And so, we wanted everyone to be aware of the changes that we were about to make. And that was the reason really for that trip. And we'd done numerous other trips before that one. We'd taken the kids right throughout Europe. As we said, we lived in England and we've taken them to India. They're well-traveled and I've seen the benefits of travel and change in their whole mannerism and just the way that they approach life. Nothing is too big. You know, they might get a little bit upset every now and again, but they soon pick themselves up. And I see that as resilience.

Brendan Rogers: I think it's a great example of, you're not just talking about change, you're living and breathing it. How about you just tell us about what is change? And maybe, even share about this dark art of what they term change management.

Sam Sooialo: Well, change management. I think it's a really fancy term for helping people to cope with the unknown. I tend to look at it this way. You and I have talked about lenses and I always referred to things in terms of the lens in which I see the world through. And I guess my lens that I've always had is this concept of faith. And when people talk about faith, when I've thought about faith, I tend to think of what's the opposite of faith. And when I was a lot younger, I thought that if I doubted things, then my faith was worthless. But in reality, doubt isn't the opposite of faith. Certainty is the opposite of faith. And so, it's okay to doubt. And when you're implementing change, per se, all you're doing is you're trying to help people come to the realisation that it's okay to be a little bit uncomfortable. It's okay to have a little bit of doubt.

Yes. There are going to be some fears in terms of losing your job, but it's okay. The world is constantly changing around you and it's your ability to be able to reframe how you view the world. It's what lens you use and, you know, whatever experiences that you've had in the past, whether they're positive or negative, that's what's going to shape how you see things. And if your view happens to have been negative, and you've been through certain changes that haven't benefited you or have caused some sort of trauma, it is possible to relearn that there are positive changes if you change the way that you look at things. So for me, that's what change management is.

There are a lot of different approaches and different theories out there that you could read. You know, you could talk about Theory E or Theory O. I don't know whether you're aware of those concepts. Theory E’s, you know, the approach that change is led by economics. I think a lot of people often refer to managers as just all about money and shareholders and so on as opposed to Theory O, which talks about organisations, focusing on the capabilities of that organisation. So that they're two different approaches. And depending on which camp you sit on, whereas I tend to think, “Well, you actually need a bit of both.” And it depends on the environment that you're going into, which approach you lead with and how you interchange them. It's a very complex subject, but, I think, sometimes, the business world, or maybe consultants make it too complex. And it's, you know, it's like sport, I know that you like soccer. I like rugby. And they're very simple concepts. And sometimes, we try and overcomplicate things. So, I tend to look at change management as a leader per se is for me to help whoever it is that’s being impacted through that change to make the transition into the new world.

Brendan Rogers: You talked about Theory E and Theory O and thanks for sharing that. I'd never heard of those terms before, but, and you also talked about the balance of that. Where does that balance sit?

Sam Sooialo: For me, it really depends on the environment that you find yourself in. If you're going into an environment or you're in an environment where people are up for change, then the change is a lot easier. And the people who are actually being impacted by the change, they're not as fearful of the changes so that they see it as an opportunity. And that's a much easier environment to be in. However, if you are in an environment where there hasn't been a lot of changes, or there have been lots of changes, for example, the public service, then they're going to be a lot more fearful in terms of what are these changes? Who is this person? What approach are they going to take? Is my job at risk? And so, as a change manager, those are the sorts of things that you have to consider.

And then the approach that you take will be dependent on the environment that you do find yourself in. And sometimes, the environment or the stakeholders dictate what they want. You know, if you're in a private company, let's use an example of a small business, for example, that has five or six people in there. The environment is tough. The customer's expectation is increasing. They want lower costs, but they want higher service. And they want you to make those changes very quickly. And of course, there's competition. So, you can take Theory O and look at your organisation's capability and work on that, but how long is that going to take? You know, that usually takes a lot longer to bring people around, or you could take the other approach and look at it from a purely economic point of view and say, “If we don't make this change within two months, we're going to be into crap.”

So, depending on that environment, that's the approach that you have to take. I know that you had Adam on the podcast recently and he talked about, “Sometimes you have to make a decision and run with it”. And as a leader, sometimes you have to do that. It may work out to be the wrong one in the end, but you know, you gotta make that decision with that conviction.

Brendan Rogers: Let's go into the change management side as far as what's not done well in your experience, because probably, outside of another guest I've had a little while ago around meetings and, you know, we all have terrible meetings or 95% of leaders have terrible meetings. The other thing is that change is not done well. So, in your experience, what are some of those things in this change management process that aren't done very well today?

Sam Sooialo: Well, see, that's a very interesting question that, or comment in that I am in the process of writing my next paper, as you know, I write a few articles. So, I actually went and had a look at this, you know, “change often fails” mentality to see where it actually came from and whether it is actually a reality. And I've written into my own blogs as well. And I've seen it whilst I was doing my MBA. And what I actually discovered was that there's often this reference to that 70% of change initiatives always fail. Right? And I found a reference by Beer and Nohria in a Harvard Business Review. And the article was titled, “Cracking the Code of Change”. Now, they talked about that, but they didn't actually provide any evidence to support the statistic.

And now, I've been through a few changes myself. And when I look back at some of those things from my perspective, commercially and economically, those changes have worked. So, who's actually measuring that from the different perspective and in, where do we get this whole concept of that “most changes fail”? I think it's in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? And depending on who you talk to, they will tell you whether the change has worked or not. So, I guess that's one perspective from my point of view, and perhaps you could call that my bias. So then, I tend to look at it from a different frame. If you go in with the mindset, for example, that changes always fail, then you're starting on the back foot. Or if you're listening to the rhetoric that you've been given before you go in, for example, walking into an environment that's gone through some changes before where they perceive it has not been successful.

The approach that you might take might be, “I'll go with the advice that I was given that this is a negative organisation. Therefore, I'm not going to listen to anyone. And I'm just going to drive, regardless of what I'm told.” Wisdom of experience tells you that perhaps you shouldn't take people's views of an environment on board too much. That perhaps you should get your own view of the world of that environment and then decide from there. Almost just to try and to get your own bias or the bias that someone has given you of that environment. And then, you start from there.

Brendan Rogers: I want to take you back to the different perspectives on change and what successful change is. How important is it in this change process and the changes you've been involved in and actually getting that level of clarity at the start of what a successful change process looks like? You know, what are we trying to get from this change? And that question that keeps coming out to me, what does success look like at the end of this process? How important is that?

Sam Sooialo: It's very important and there are two stakeholders in reality when you look at it. There's the business owner or the stakeholder. They want to make sure that their investment, they’re getting some return. But there's also the people that are actually delivering the services. They want to make sure that they're being appreciated and so on. So, what I've found is what people are actually asking for is some clarity around why those changes are actually being made and then how that is going to impact them. And then, what can they do to actually realign or adjust to that particular change?

So, in my experience, a strategy or a good strategy is definitely the starting point. Getting someone to actually help with that strategy and a high level roadmap so that you know which strategic projects you need to work on. And then working, looking at that from a capacity point of view, you know, if you've got seven or eight different things that you need to do, well, categorise them into the most important ones first and foremost, and then look at how much capacity have you got to do that. If you've only got the capacity to do two and you're doing six, well, I think we all know what the answer is going to be in, in terms of trying to do six, of course, the project's going to fail, or you're going to do a very bad job. So, by focusing on those two things to start with, I think as a starting point, getting that clarity is going to help a lot of people make that adjustment in terms of change.

Brendan Rogers: Let's go into the people part. We hear this term coping with change. You know, “I don't cope with change very well” or “people don't cope with change” or “this team's not coping with change very well”. When that term’s used, and again, in your experience, why is it that some people are supposedly seen to cope with change better than others?

Sam Sooialo: I think it comes back to previous experiences. As I was, you know, when I started off, I talked about having grown up in the environment that I grew up with. One of the things that I experienced as an immigrant in New Zealand as a, you know, 10-11-12-year old was racism from other kids who teased my brothers and I about the fact that we didn't speak English and so on. And also, in terms of learning at school, it was hard to translate things from English into Samoan, which is my native language, and then translate it back and so on. So, it took a lot longer. So, a lot of those different experiences have taught me that it is possible to climb whatever mountain you're on. It just takes a bit of time.

And, I think, when people approach change in this day and age, perhaps, they've forgotten a lot of the struggles and a lot of the things that they've had to overcome and change at work is just another one of those changes. And so, I go back to this whole statistic of how many projects fail, perhaps the media, perhaps consultants who are trying to sell that concept of, “You need better change management” gets people into believing that anytime you're going to do a change, it's going to fail. But in reality, you've been through lots of different changes before. And if you've been through those changes and you've come through it, then it is possible to change. And from my perspective, it's just a matter of reminding people. They've got that experience behind them and that they can come through it. Yeah, it's going to be tough in some cases, but if you've conquered something else before, why can't you do this now?

Brendan Rogers: It reminds me of an analogy I use just around change. And I don't believe that people struggle with change and why I don't believe that is something as simple as phones. Most of us have a phone nowadays. And most of us change phones, maybe every couple of years upgrade a phone or whatever. So, people are comfortable with that change in today's society. So, therefore, why wouldn't they have some sort of comfort with potentially other changes that are happening in their life?

Sam Sooialo: When we talk about that phone, that's a device that people are learning to use, but I think a lot of the changes requires them to make a change to their own behaviour. So, even though they've been asked to use a new system to deliver different services, I think a lot of the times people look, and I do this sometimes as well. I look at it, how does that impact me? How does that impact my livelihood and am I going to be able to pay my bills? And when we start thinking about that impact on us, it's no longer then about the technology or the process that you're trying to think. It's the limiting beliefs. If you like, it's the, what-if scenarios, the Chicken Little thing ‘the sky's going to fall in,’ right? And it's about catching yourself, doing that and self-talk and to say, “Hey, look. You've been through these changes before. Technology changes have happened time and time and time again. And you've been okay. So, stop telling yourself that this is a problem and start thinking about your own behaviour and your own contribution in terms of contributing to that change. What do I need to do to actually get the positives out of this situation?”

Brendan Rogers: How much does the success of change management in your experience depend on the quality of relationships that you have with people in the organisation?

Sam Sooialo: I think the quality of relationship is really important because you, as a change leader, or as somebody who's actually leading that change, the people who sometimes feel like the changes happening to them want to make sure that you've got their best interest at heart. Even though sometimes, they may forget that the change leader is also impacted by that very change. Ideally, you do want that relationship and the quality of that relationship will make the change a lot easier. Sometimes though, it's not always possible to have that total relationship with everyone. You might get that relationship with 80% of the people. There's that 20% that, you know, if we use an 80-20 rule, that's never going to warm to you, regardless of what you do, you could go out of your way to establish that relationship, but they've already formed their views in their own heads as to, “This change is not good for me.” And regardless of whatever approach you take, they're not going to get on board. And so, I've learned you've got to be okay with that.

Whether your intentions are always pure in terms of trying to help people, there are always going to be people who are never going to agree with you. And I have found that that is the hardest thing for a change leader to get used to is, it is okay that you sometimes have to move on with the rest of the organisation and leave some behind. You can't actually get those people to change. And if you look at that as a failure of you being able to establish that relationship, yes, there, it does eat at you, but you've also got to look at it from the majority of the organisation is ready to go, and you've got to go with them. Now, that's then where you require the support from those that are higher up to be able to recognise that sometimes, it's not possible for you to take everyone with you. Sometimes, you have to get rid of those people and that if they don't help you to help those people find the environment that's right for them outside of that organisation, it's gonna slow everything else down.

It's going to piss a whole heap of people off that are ready to go. Yeah. So, it's a catch-22, isn't it? I think we always strive for perfection. And as someone who's caring, you want to be able to take everyone with you, but it's not always possible. At least, my experience has shown me that it's not possible to do that. And you shouldn't beat yourself up about it if you can't take everyone with you.

Brendan Rogers: I want to go back to that word ‘resilience’ that you mentioned, what is it that helps build resilience in people to cope better with change that impacts them or just general change within the organisation?

Sam Sooialo: That's an interesting question. You know, as consultants, we come up with all these ideas to help people build their resilience and yes, it could work, but I tend to take the approach that I'm just going to remind people of their own experiences, look at their own story and look at their own history of the changes that they've been through themselves, however is significant they may think it is to tell their own version of their own story. And they will find in there that they are resilient. And that perhaps along the line somewhere that they've started to believe somebody else's story of their resilience.

And it's just about me reminding them of their own self-worth, of their own journey and that they are very capable of it. And you know, any trainings that you can add on top of that to help them gain some new skills. I think that's a bonus. But for me, it's really just reminding them about the fact that you have had experiences, whether you actively think about it or not. So, look at those and start to believe in your own story.

Brendan Rogers: When's a time where you've seen yourself struggling with change? And why was that when you know so much about it?

Sam Sooialo: Even though I'd been through a lot of changes and I've implemented a lot of changes, either as an implementer, you know, in the IT Consultancy game or as the person leading the changes, I found the most difficult and, I talked about it before in that I wanted to take a hundred percent of the people along for the ride. And when there's so much resistance there from people who perhaps didn't agree with the approach, the way that things were being done, didn't agree with the drivers from either the market, higher up or whatever. Sometimes, you let that feedback sorta get to you and it challenges your own humanity, if you, like, in terms of, “Well, if I only take 80% of the people with me, what's going to happen to the other 20%?”

And I think that's where I fell over in terms of that particular change. That rather than just pushing on with the rest of the people who were ready to go, I kind of hung around and waited and probably waited a bit too long. And then, when you're thinking about that, something else comes up, maybe something is happening at home. Something is happening in another organisation that you're part of on a board that you're dealing with. And all of a sudden, you've got multiple things that are happening that start to impact your own mindset and you start making irrational decisions, or you do what you think is best. And I think that's where it potentially goes wrong.

And you've got your own biases as well. So, that's why I'm a big believer in going back to your own story. Look at your own successes, believe in what you're doing. You've had a lot of successes before. And as I say, you know, whether it's you or somebody else that I've been talking to, no one can invalidate your own story. And if you believe in that, then let that be the foundation in which you build everything else on. And be okay with the people who just don't want to come with you and just move on.

Brendan Rogers: When was that moment when you started to feel comfortable that you couldn't take everyone? Or there was, it was very difficult to take everyone on the journey?

Sam Sooialo: Well, again, I think it's that whole self-reflection aspect of things. And I started to look at my history in terms of where I had come from. And when I do look at my own story, you know, migrating out of a country where a boy didn't speak English. Adjusting to racism and those sorts of things that were going on, moving country, you know, a few times, and having to start work, pick up a new job and so on and so on. And when I look at those things personally, I think to myself, “Yeah, you know what, I've done pretty well, you know. So what somebody is, you know, said, ‘oh, you're not doing this right’ or ‘you know, that's not the way I would have done it.’” It's very easy for people to tell you how you should do your job, isn't it? It’s like, raising children, people who don't have children have the best intentions and the best advice. And it's only until they've had kids that they realise what it's like to raise kids, but that's like management. It's like leading change. And until you are sitting in their chair, you've got no idea. And so, I look at that and I use that lens and I look back at my life and the successes that I've had and say, “You know what? Yeah, there's a little bit of a blip here, but I’ll learn from this and I will move on and I will be successful.” So, that's my advice to anyone who's actually leading a change or in a management position is don't let anyone else tell you that, you know, what you're doing is a failure. It could be that you need some adjustment to it, but just learn from it and move on.

Brendan Rogers: I want us to go into the impact of change, particularly on culture. You wrote an article a little while ago. Again, I can't remember the exact title of the article, but it was linked to change and the impact on toxic culture. Tell us a bit about that. And again, through your lens, through your perspective, through your experience.

Sam Sooialo: Yeah. So, the article was How does Change Impact Culture? That article was, again, a reflection piece in terms of the changes that I'd been involved in. And if I could go back and do things all over again, what would I change? So, that was a perspective that I wanted to share with anyone else who had, you know, who was going through the same thing or who was about to go into that change. And it was really about acknowledging that change isn’t perfect, and it's never going to be perfect. Yes, you should start with a strategy, you know, and you should know strategically what you're going to do and which things you're going to focus on, but the environment is ever changing and you're going to have to adjust.

And so, you know, there were three things that I talked about in that article in particular. Bias was definitely one of those. I have my bias and I'm sure everybody else has their biases. I'm a real doer, even though I'm a real people, I want to take everyone with me in terms of where I'm going. I like to get things done quick. I'm that type A, you know, “I know where I'm going and I'm going to head in that direction, regardless of whether the line is straight or I might have to go up and down in certain places.” But I do have to check my bias and then check the bias of everyone else who's involved in that change to understand the gap.

And it's that gap that I think is the most important aspect of it. And it's helping and then going back and helping people that are being impacted by that change to bridge that gap in terms of “maybe it's going back” and helping them reevaluate their own story as they've come through.

Again, the change isn't as insurmountable as you think. You've been through challenges before. We've been through recessions. We're going through COVID. You may have moved countries. You may have moved schools. Change is all around us, and we've gone through many of these changes time and time again. So, if your bias is positive, great. If your bias is negative, maybe it's time to reframe the way that you look at that so that it is positive and it allows you to move forward. That was one aspect of it.

The second was that one, in terms of the current environment, as I said, you might have the best intentions, but the environment might not allow you to do that. In COVID, for example, a lot of organisations aren't in their offices at the moment, a lot of people are working remotely. So, the change plan that you might've had in place is now almost obsolete, and you've got to take a different approach, but you've gotta be okay with the fact that, you know, you might try something and it doesn't work, or just try again, just try and consult the people that aren't being impacted and take onboard some of the feedback that they've got.

But again, you know, you've got experience behind a lot of these things and you might have the perspective that they don't have. So, be reassured in your own skill set and keep heading in the direction that you wanted to go towards.

And that brings me to the third point, which was that consult to understand, rather than to argue. Yes, ask questions to understand why they might fear a certain change or why technology might be an issue for them and so on. And that then allows you to address the gap, not only between your own bias but with theirs. And, you know, I guess if you look at it that comes back to that whole relationship aspect that you were asking about before. I think that's where you build that relationship is the commonalities. Even though you might've had different experiences and different upbringings, talking about their experiences, as well as yours, you can find that commonality, even though they're different, completely different experiences.

Brendan Rogers: We talked earlier around poor change where some experiences has been quite challenging. Share an experience you've had where it's been a really positive change. You felt good about the process, you've felt good around how that's been led, your involvement, and how that's being led in the engagement through the organisation.

Sam Sooialo: Yeah, well, Roland Digital Group in the UK, who was a very positive change experience for me. And the reason that that was very positive was the CEO of that organisation, his name is Jerry Davis. Hey, Jerry, if you're listening to this, hello. He had a very profound impact on my mindset in terms of approaching things, approaching people and business in general. So, as I said, that was a positive experience for me because he recognised the challenges that you would have to take people through in order to make those changes. And he was very supportive, even though some of those decisions were very tough. For example, moving managers aside, reassigning them to different organisations, moving a whole division under a different line, or having them, you know, report into my part of the organisation. And the other aspect of the really positive side of that change, you know, they were up for change, particularly the service side of the business that I was working with. Yes, there were one or two people who perhaps were unsure, weren't quite ready yet, but the majority of people within the organisation saw the need for change. They understood why we needed to change it.

And the environment at the time was, you know, the world was going through a recession. And so, they knew that they needed to change. So, I think it's that urgency in terms of understanding why the change is actually required. And if they understand that concept, then perhaps, they're more willing to go along with the change and not be so resistant.

So, I've thoroughly enjoyed my time with Roland. The leadership was great. I had to make some tough decisions, but you know, from my perspective, I think it was great. You might get a different perspective if you had asked somebody else from the organisation. You know, financially, they did really well in terms of the changes that we had made.

The feedback that I received from the people within the organisation was also very positive in terms of not only their own career development, but how they were seen within the overall organisation. You know, engineers, I'm an old engineer myself, and generally, they're often the workhorses that are forgotten. Generally, it's the sales people who get a lot of the recognition and, you know, they drive the BMWs and so on. And engineers, they drive the little cars and so on. And those changes that you make in terms of highlighting the value that those particular individuals add to the organisation really, really helped them see that they were actually making a very worthwhile contribution to the organisation also. And they bought into that. And as a result, in the end, you know, they became a much bigger, more profitable part of the business and the rest is history for them and they're going very well.

I'm pretty sure they're going through other challenges during the COVID period. It was a fantastic experience that I had there. And, you know, in saying that, in the other organisations that I've worked with and in the public service, there were some great changes that were happening there.

But I think, overall, it does come down to your own mindset. I think it comes down to the change manager’s mindset in terms of their approach and how they see the world or the bias that they have and their ability then to be able to instil that positive mindset that they come in with.

Brendan Rogers: Given what you've experienced and given that we're living in a world of change, what would be that piece of advice that you would give leaders based on your experience that will help them manage change better in the future?

Sam Sooialo: My first piece of advice for them is really about them first and foremost, in that the biggest wall that we often have to climb is the one that we build in our own heads. Again, if I go back to those experiences, you know, it's a tough gig. It is a tough gig to lead a change, to lead a team, and so on. And often, it is a bit lonely and you may not feel appreciated. And sometimes, because you're in that position and you may be getting a bit, getting paid a little bit more than what the frontline staff are, so the expectation is that, you know, you're bulletproof, you should be okay. And so, self-care, if you like in terms of that, change the lens in which you look at things, and it comes back to that saying of, you know, “Don't build a wall in your head, regardless of what's being said about you and so on. Don't listen to the negativity, listen to your own story.” And if you keep that in mind, you will come out on the other side positively, that's my piece of advice.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, let's close this off. How can people get in touch with you if they just want to connect and learn a bit more about you?

Sam Sooialo: Yeah, well, they can connect with me on LinkedIn, search up my name or they can email me at sam@profitandvalues.com.au.  I've also got a business Facebook page and a website. So the website is www.profitandvalues.com.au.

Brendan Rogers: Excellent, mate. Thank you for sharing. I know it's taken me a number of months to get you on the show, through my own recalcitrant behaviour, more than anything, but I'm so glad we could do it today. I'm really glad that you could share your experiences around change and leading change in this crazy world of change. Thank you so much, mate. Appreciate your time on The Culture of Things podcast.

Sam Sooialo: Thank you.

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Brendan Rogers: It was a pleasure to finally sit down with Sam and talk about an area he is very passionate about - leading change. As Sam indicated during the interview, he has experienced the highs and lows of leading change. And this at times has had an impact on his well-being. Leading change isn't for the fainthearted. But the process of, as Sam calls it, ‘helping people transition into the new world’ is a part of modern-day leadership that is not going away. Leaders, you must understand this, accept it, and ensure you start with a positive mindset to guide your team through it.

These were my three key takeaways from my conversation with Sam.

My first key takeaway. The quality of your relationships will impact the quality of the change experience. For me, this all comes back to trust. Maybe a reason why people seem to not cope with change is that they don't trust their leaders’ intent. If leaders create a high trust environment with their team, open and honest conversations will take place and people will raise and talk through issues. Trust is the backbone of all things leadership, including leading change.

My second key takeaway. A positive mindset leads to a positive change experience. As Sam said, don't build a wall in your head and don't listen to the negativity. We have what seems to be a natural inclination to think worst-case scenario when it comes to change. As a leader, you have a responsibility to lead change with a positive mindset. Do this and there is a greater chance of your team having a positive change experience.

My third key takeaway. When leading change, be comfortable leaving some behind. It's an unrealistic expectation that you will bring everyone along for the ride. As a leader, you need to accept that and move along with the majority. Put your valuable time into the two-thirds that are either already on board or who are in the decision-making process of coming on board. Don't spend your valuable time on the complainers. Be comfortable leaving them behind.

So, in summary, my three key takeaways were: the quality of your relationships will impact the quality of the change experience; a positive mindset leads to a positive change experience; when leading change, be comfortable leaving some behind.

If you have any questions or feedback about this episode, please feel free to send me a message at brendan@brendanrogers.com.au.

Thank you for listening. Stay safe. Until next time.


Outtro (music): Thank you for listening to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. Please visit brendanrogers.com.au to access the show notes. If you love The Culture of Things podcast, please subscribe, rate and give a review on Apple podcasts and remember a healthy culture is your competitive advantage.