Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Stop Aspiring To Lead And Start Leading By Giving Support

For organizations to succeed, leaders need to learn how to provide better support for their employees. Learn where to begin with this piece.
The following is a guest piece by Inc. columnist and NYU Adjunct Professor Joshua Spodek
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People who aspire to lead look upward in a hierarchy to find power and authority they can grab onto to pull themselves up. That’s why they’re still aspiring and not leading. People above them can sense their craving, which they can motivate them with, which makes them followers, not leaders.

Great, effective leaders support people, which means not looking up but looking around at people at all levels. Supporting people attracts them to your team. Support creates loyalty, dedication, and results. People who support become leaders because people want to follow them. They buoy themselves up through effective action, which means getting things done.

Why you don’t know how to support

The challenge to grow your teams, followers, and community is more than knowing you have to support people. Everyone knows what they should do in the abstract. The challenge is knowing how and doing it. Schools don’t teach it. Media don’t show this bread-and-butter but not dramatic part of leadership. What’s effective doesn’t sell movie tickets.

In my book, “Leadership Step by Step“, I treat support as the culmination of the leadership skills that you reach after mastering everything else. I think of it like the serve in tennis. It may be an important part of the game, maybe the most important, but it’s hard, so you don’t learn it first. Learning it requires Click here to continue reading »”Stop Aspiring To Lead And Start Leading By Giving Support”

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How Would You Answer This Question About Your Leadership?

A question every leader should be asking themselves in order to figure out how successful they'll ultimately be in their collective efforts.

When it comes to leadership, there are many facets that we examine and explore in our drive to learn how we can succeed in leading our team and organization. But one aspect that’s rarely looked at is how the way we view our role can leave us creating more of a polarizing effect than a unifying one.

It’s a notion that I’ve been pondering about as I observe the reactions to the last week’s inauguration of of the new US president. Certainly, there can be no doubt that – regardless of your political leanings – the new US president is certainly a polarizing figure. In that light, it’s not surprising to see a growing division within the US population between those who support and champion him, and those who oppose him and what he represents.

But what’s been interesting to note is that small fragment found in between these two diverging groups – people who are openly against the new presidency, but who are encouraging their fellow Americans to put aside their differences and to support him as their president.

As a Canadian, I have to admit to finding this notion to be a bit odd. Granted, I can understand the emotional need behind these pleas – after all, who wouldn’t be hurt and dismayed from seeing a growing division and outright resentment brewing within the various groups that make up your country.

And yet, for me at least, the ability to openly challenge, criticize, and oppose your nation’s leader is one of the very hallmarks of both democracy and patriotism. Indeed, I for one was very vocal in publicly speaking against both our previous Prime Minister and previous Quebec Premier because I sincerely believed that their vision for my country and for my province were not what was best for our society, and certainly not what would guarantee a more prosperous and stable future for everyone.

In other words, my dissension and criticism wasn’t simply directed towards their role of being the Prime Minister of Canada or the Quebec Premier. Rather, it was about their vision and their goals, and whether those were things that I wanted to personally commit myself as a citizen to helping become a part of our collective reality.

That distinction is something that we often recognize in our conversations and examinations about the nature of leadership; that people commit their best efforts not because of who we are, but because of what we stand for and what we hope to achieve.

As such, the idea that people should simply support their leader for the purposes of creating the illusion of collective harmony is not only troublesome in terms of ensuring accountability amongst those in charge, but it also diminishes the underlying motivational drive that compels people to commit their best selves to the work they do.

It also reveals an important question Click here to continue reading »”How Would You Answer This Question About Your Leadership?”

My Top 10 Leadership Insights For 2016

A look back at my Top 10 leadership insights from 2016 and the common themes they reveal about how leaders can be successful in 2017.

There’s no question that the start of a new year brings to mind notions of new beginnings and a chance for a fresh start. Of course, as much as we might be eager to set our sights ahead into 2017 and envision all the possibilities and goals we might achieve, it’s worth taking the time to look back on the year that was and what we learned along the way.

It’s from that vantage point that I sat down to put together my Top 10 leadership insights for 2016 as determined by you, the readers of my leadership blog. In putting this list together, it’s always interesting to see which of my pieces were the most popular with my readers, and where I might differ in terms of which articles I’d put in a list of my Top 10 favourite leadership articles for 2016

For example, as a Star Trek fan, I’d definitely include my piece “4 Important Leadership Lessons From The Final Frontier” that celebrated Star Trek’s 50th anniversary in 2016, a piece which came close, but didn’t quite make the Top 10 list of my readers’ most favourite pieces.

What’s also interesting about this process is how certain threads or themes begin to emerge that serve to shine a light on what issues or challenges today’s leaders are most interested in learning more about. Looking at the list of 10 leadership insights found below, it’s clear that many leaders are interested in learning how to develop stronger relationships with those under their care; that their focus is increasing on how to empower their employees to bring their full selves to the work they do.

It’s an encouraging sign, and certainly a great way to begin a new year.

And so with that, here now are my Top 10 leadership insights as selected by the readers of my award-winning leadership blog:

Leadership Insight #10 – Empathy allows us to bridge the gap between how we see things and how others experience them. [Share on Twitter]

“Through our empathy, we’re able to move beyond the binary attitude of “I’m right/you’re wrong” which can impede any initiative from moving forward, to one that’s driven by the desire to discover that common ground we share with one another so that we can promote collaboration and foster sustainable growth.

It’s a truth that becomes all the more obvious when we remember that the key to your organization’s success and future prosperity is no longer based solely on the processes and technologies found within your company’s walls, but within the talents, insights, and experiences of those you lead. Something that one can tap into only if we create conditions where people feel connected to what they do and to those around them, as well as being a part of the shared purpose that defines your collective efforts.

But how do we know if we’re truly being empathetic in our leadership? How can we tell if we’re creating conditions that allow all of our employees to succeed and thrive, as opposed to a select few like our ‘star players’ or those we personally relate to?”

Read more on this leadership insight here: A Timely Reminder Of The Power Of Empathy In Leadership

 

Leadership Insight #9 – When we lead only by authority, our focus is only on ourselves and not on how to empower others. [Share on Twitter]

“Now I’ve written before about the importance of building relationships with those we lead and one of the key reasons for that is to help us better understand our employees’ needs, and of what will best motivate them to bring their best efforts to the table. It’s through such efforts that we’re able to influence others because we’re able to connect our vision or ideas to things that our employees would care about as well.

Again, as leaders, your employees do have to follow your lead and that alone is a sign of your authority. But getting people to believe in your vision, in the goals you want to achieve requires influence, something we don’t have a right to simply because of our title or role. Rather, it’s something we have to earn by gaining the trust and respect of those we have the responsibility to guide and support so that they can succeed in their collective efforts.”

Read more on this leadership insight here: Is Your Leadership Based On Influence Or Authority?

 

Leadership Insight #8 – The power of relationships is that it allows us the freedom of knowing we don’t have to go it alone. [Share on Twitter]

“One of the truisms of modern-day leadership is that as leaders, we can’t expect to have all the answers. Of course, the corollary to that axiom is that leaders shouldn’t be afraid to ask or accept a helping hand from those they lead. After all, how can we help those we lead to grow if we don’t value their ability to offer a helping hand?

How can we encourage our employees to challenge their Click here to continue reading »”My Top 10 Leadership Insights For 2016″

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Is Your Leadership Based On Influence Or Authority?

A look at authority and influence in leadership and why one of these is more critical than the other to succeed at leadership in today's organizations.

With a complex endeavour such as leadership, it’s only natural that there be different schools of thought and perspectives on what would be the best way to lead your team and organization forward. Of course, while there might be different approaches to leadership, there are still a few binary aspects to how we approach the role of leader in today’s organizations.

One example is the choice between the command-and-control style of leadership and one that’s more collaborative and inclusive in how we rally people around a common cause or goal. While most of us have come to appreciate the limitations and inefficiencies that come with a top-down style of leadership, one binary approach to leadership that’s not so clear is the one where we choose either to rely on our authority or on our influence to guide our team or organization.

Now to be clear, leaders by default do operate with some form of authority, usually as a result of their position within their organization. Where problems arise is when we think that all a person needs to lead others is a sense of authority without any consideration for the impact our actions have on those we have the responsibility to lead.

To help illustrate what I mean by this, I’d like to share the example of two people I worked with during my clinical-work days at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.

Irene was a member of the nurses team that the doctors and my fellow clinicians collaborated with in our work treating the various patients that came to our hospital-based clinic. Although this team of nurses didn’t have a head nurse, Irene liked to think of herself as being the head nurse and certainly liked to act like she had that weight to throw around in her interactions with both fellow staff and patients.

Now while there was no question that Irene was a competent and caring nurse, it was clear talking to her fellow nurses that if a head nurse job were to be created and Irene were to get it, the nurses would be lining up at the HR department with requests to transfer to another department.

The problem Irene had is that while she was certainly technically competent as a nurse, she had little to no influence in terms of people wanting to follow her advice and suggestions.

In fact, it was so bad that there were a few occasions where I saw Irene give some unsolicited advice about a particular case and her fellow nurses would outright ignore her. And if you asked the other nurses why they’d behave that way, they’d tell you about how they didn’t want to make Irene’s ego any bigger than it already was.

Now compare Irene’s example to Helen, another nurse who worked at this clinic. Helen was the nurse who everyone went to if they needed help with a particular problem or if you just needed a friendly ear to vent to about some difficult patient.

Helen was just as competent and caring a nurse as Irene, but the difference between these two professionals was that Helen made it all about the patient, while Irene was more interested in finding opportunities to showcase herself and her abilities.

While both nurses had the same level of authority in how they performed their jobs, time and time again when patients returned, it was Helen who received the most requests from patients to have her working on their case.

Now the reason why I wanted to use nurses who lack formal leadership titles to discuss this issue is in part because it’s a common adage that in today’s modern workplaces, anybody can be a leader; that we don’t need a title to wield influence within our team and organization.

But perhaps more importantly, Irene and Helen’s example also helps to illustrate a key finding from recent neuroscience studies that offer an important reality check for how effective we are in bringing out the best in those we lead.

Researchers have found that the relationship between Click here to continue reading »”Is Your Leadership Based On Influence Or Authority?”