TanveerNaseer.com

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

What Jazz Taught Me About Leadership

Leadership-lessons-from-Jazz

When you grow up in Montreal, it’s almost a given that you become a fan of Jazz music. For those you might not know this, every summer Montreal hosts the world’s largest Jazz Festival in the world (I kid you not – we even hold the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest Jazz festival). It’s an annual event that’s been held here for over 35 years and one that I’ve been attending annually since I was in high school.

As such, I’m sure it’s not surprising to know that I often have the sounds of Coltrane, Monk, Peterson, and of course, Ella to name but a few wafting in my office as I sit down to pen my latest leadership insight or to develop my next leadership talk.

It was during one of these creative brainstorming sessions that I got to thinking about the connections that exist between leadership and Jazz. In particular, how each of these pursuits is often represented by this notion of having to take seemingly incongruent elements and helping to transform them into this cohesive, collective effort defined by a shared vision.

Indeed, the key to understanding Jazz is not to focus on the individual musicians and what they alone are playing. Rather, the beauty of Jazz is found in listening to how these musicians can create this sense of harmony and connectedness, even while playing what at times might sound more like a competing mixture of contradictions.

It’s the same truth that underlies how we can succeed at leadership in today’s faster paced, increasingly connected global world. Namely, successful leadership involves connecting our collective efforts to a vision we all understand [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]. That we demonstrate the links that exist between what our employees do and that larger vision that we all want to be a part of.

So in this vein of what Jazz reveals about the necessary truths about leading in today’s work environment, I’d like to share the following three lessons from the Jazz world on how we can be the kind of leader our employees need in order to be successful in their collective efforts. Click here to continue reading »

The Key To Promoting Organizational Growth And Success

Promoting-organizational-growth-and-success

Now that the first quarter of this year is coming to an end, many of us are naturally taking stock of how much progress we’ve made towards reaching those targets we set out to attain this year. This naturally leads to an examination of our current efforts to promote the growth and development of our organization and with it, new opportunities to broaden our scope and leverage our existing assets.

And yet, while many leaders are eager to find ways to foster growth-promoting initiatives within their organization, many struggle with creating those conditions that are necessary for supporting a sustainable, thriving workplace environment.

No doubt this is largely due to the disconnect between where most of their efforts are being placed and what’s really required to engage, inspire, and empower employees to become fully committed participants in the shared purpose that defines their organization’s collective efforts.

Indeed, in the past few years, there have been numerous studies which have conclusively shown that organizational growth and success in today’s interconnected world is no longer dependent solely on the various processes and measures we implement in our workplace.

Rather, the key differentiating factor is how well we’re able to demonstrate the connection between the everyday work our employees do and the overarching shared purpose that defines our organization’s raison d’être. That our employees feel compelled to bring their best selves to the work they do because they themselves derive a sense of purpose and meaning through the contributions they make.

Of course, while many of us can understand the value and importance of promoting purpose-lead work to our organization’s success and longevity, the challenge lies in how do we ensure we’re creating such conditions in our workplace, especially when the needs and requirements of our employees can be quite diverse.

To help you address this quandary, I’d like to provide you with a few questions that you can use to ascertain whether your current efforts serve to connect what matters to your employees with what matters to your organization, and thereby create those conditions that are necessary for the long term success and growth of your organization. Click here to continue reading »

How To Simplify The Way We Work

Simplifying-the-way-we-work

After the tough winter season most of us have had this year, it’s understandable that many of us are eager for Springtime weather to finally take hold so we might once again enjoy a warm sun under blue skies.

Of course, it’s not just the return of warm weather that many of us associate with the arrival of Spring. There’s also that sense of renewal and rejuvenation that comes with this time of the year; of being more open to making changes that will spur on new opportunities for growth and success.

This mood makes for a great motivator, not only for us to tackle the chores of spring cleaning where we clear our homes of undesired clutter, but also as a driving force for us to find new ways to streamline and better manage the unending demands on our time, energy, and resources.

Indeed, one of the hallmarks of our digital age is the pursuit of simplification – where we use our smartphones and other technological devices to help us simplify both the way we work and how we get things done.

In fact, one of the findings in this year’s Global Human Capital Trends from Deloitte found that some organizations “are starting to treat “time capital” with the same seriousness as financial capital”; that how we use our time is becoming an increasingly critical and prized resource that has a tangible connection to our collective success and long-term growth.

In many ways, this finding is not surprising as being able to simplify issues or situations helps us feel like we have a better handle on things. Through simplification, we can gain a better vantage point to understand what’s going on and what we need to do going forward.

So in keeping with the themes of spring cleaning and simplifying the way we work, I’d like to share this straightforward framework that can help you ascertain how you can go about decluttering the way you and your employees work in today’s faster-paced and ever-changing work environment by asking yourself the following three questions. Click here to continue reading »

An Astronaut’s View Of The Power Of We

Image courtesy of NASA.

Image courtesy of NASA.

I’m delighted to share this guest piece by US astronaut Col. Ron Garan. Ron spent 178 days in space on board the International Space Station (ISS), travelling 71 million miles in orbit. Ron has the unique distinction of being the only TED speaker to give a talk from outer space.

Thanks to the time he spent in space looking down at our planet Earth, Ron developed a deeper appreciation for what he calls “the orbital perspective” and how this vantage point can help us tap into our innate sense of empathy and connecting with others to break down barriers – whether between teams, departments, or even nations – in order to combine our collective experiences and insights to build a better future for all.

In the piece below, Ron looks back at the US-Russian partnership behind the International Space Station program and what it reveals about what we stand to gain by tapping into the power of we.

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I recently attended a national summit on infrastructure at the Harvard Business School. One of the speakers, Senator Barbara Mikulski, told a story about how every month the women of the senate — Democrats and Republicans — meet for dinner.

They meet without staff, without memos, and without the normal overhead that comes with political meetings in Washington. The dinners are designed to be all about relationships and listening. The idea is to create an atmosphere in which the senators do not judge each other.

Senator Mikulski felt this to be a very powerful tool to break down barriers to cooperation and to provide a common ground that will serve as the relational foundation for working together. This is a great worm’s eye view strategy, especially in this case, because Click here to continue reading »

Moving From ‘Good Enough’ To Greatness

Leadership-greatness-vs-good-enough

Of all the numerous organs that make up the human body, there’s no question that the brain is the most fascinating and least understood. Indeed, thanks to the burgeoning field of neuroscience, we’re not only discovering new insights into how this vital organ functions, but we’re also beginning to appreciate the depth of its complexity and mysterious nature.

Of course, as amazing as the human brain is, the fact is that it’s also quite lazy. A good example of this is the ease by which we create habits, and the corollary of how hard it is for us to break some of these habits. Granted, the formation of habits is our brain’s way of reserving our limited reserves of energy and focus for use in critical thinking and decision-making pathways. In this way, we don’t spend our days consciously thinking about the routine tasks we perform on a given day.

Unfortunately, this tendency of our brain to try and find repetitive patterns in our daily lives is also what leads us to create assumptions – assumptions about others, about how others view us, and about what we need to do to improve a situation or achieve a certain outcome.

Consider, for example, a review of numerous studies looking at the societal attitudes among the various generations which found that – contrary to popular belief or assumptions – the Millennial generation is no less racist than their preceding cohort, the Gen X generation. What’s particularly troubling about this finding is not the fact that the Millennial generation are far from being “the most tolerant generation in history”.

Rather, as this article points out, the danger these findings reveal is how the assumptions we make about ourselves and our communities can distort our understandings of the real challenges our society needs to address in order to ensure our collective success and freedoms.

These findings demonstrate a decision-making process we all employ called motivated reasoning, which brain-imaging studies have shown uses a different physical pathway in our brain than the one we use to analyze data.

Studies have shown that when we have a personal stake in a given outcome – as in the case above where we’re assessing how we view ourselves – our brain automatically Click here to continue reading »

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