Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

3 Storytelling Elements That Successfully Drive Change

3 powerful lessons leaders can learn from storytelling that will help them to effectively drive change in their organization.

Leaders face an ever-growing number of challenges leading their organization in today’s faster-paced, increasingly interconnected world. One of the more common issues a leader has to address is dealing with change.

In most cases, when we talk about change, the focus is often on the process – of what steps we need to implement to ensure we achieve a successful outcome. And yet, what we fail to take into consideration is how using the power of storytelling can help us to ignite effective and sustainable change within our organization.

To illustrate what I mean, allow me to share this story of Mary, a fellow team leader who I worked with a few years ago.

At one of our weekly team leader meetings, Mary talked about a plan she had shared with the organization’s senior leadership about a new change initiative. As Mary described the details of her proposal, she pointed out the various benefits it would create for the organization in the upcoming years.

It was clear to everyone around the table that Mary had not only done her homework in conceptualizing this change initiative, but that she was also very passionate about her proposal.

Now, normally, when someone proposes any kind of change initiative, people tend to fall into one of three groups – one group that almost immediately loves the idea, another group that takes a more guarded wait-and-see stance, and the final group that actively resists it either because they don’t agree or because they’re concerned about what unexpected issues this change will give rise to.

But as I looked around at the various team leaders, I didn’t see supporters, naysayers, or those taking a more neutral, cautious stance. Instead, what I saw was a complete lack of interest in Mary’s proposal, something that became all the more apparent when Mary asked if anyone had any questions and was met with vague shrugs and silence.

On the surface, Mary’s idea wasn’t overtly good or bad, so why did the other leaders around that conference table react to her change proposal with such indifference?

While we might think the issue is tied specifically to the technical aspects of her change initiative, a closer look at how Mary went about presenting her proposal demonstrates a failure to consider three fundamentals to effective storytelling and how these elements can be powerful devices for driving change in your organization.

1. Craft a simple, memorable message of what you’re trying to achieve
As a writer, I enjoy watching movies and TV shows that create complex storylines that slowly unravel and evolve as the story progresses. When it’s done right, it allows for both a deeper look inside a character’s motivations, as well as creating a more rich experience as the viewer delves further into this imaginary world.

Of course, the problem with complex storytelling is Click here to continue reading »”3 Storytelling Elements That Successfully Drive Change”

Stop Unwanted Beliefs From Sabotaging Your Self-Improvement

Learn from Inc. columnist Joshua Spodek how two skills can help you to overcome those unwanted beliefs that get in the way of achieving your goals.

The following is a guest piece by Inc. columnist and NYU Adjunct Professor Joshua Spodek.

We’re approaching February and gyms are starting to empty as people drop their resolutions. Maybe you know the pattern: you felt so resolved in December to get fit, start a new venture, or whatever your resolution. For most of us, by Valentines Day that resolve has gone.

What happened?

We were positive we’d do it this time.

More importantly, what can we do about it?

First, some context. After reading my book, “Leadership Step by Step”, Tanveer noted how New Year’s Day leads people to think about self-improvement and suggested relating it to my chapters on unwanted beliefs and changing them. I love the topic, which is at the core of leading yourself, which helps you lead others.

Next, what do I mean by a belief and how can one be unwanted?

I’m not talking about religious beliefs. I mean the mental models your mind uses to simplify a complex world enough to keep us alive and, hopefully, happy.

You probably know that beliefs influence how you perceive. For example, you feel and react differently when Click here to continue reading »”Stop Unwanted Beliefs From Sabotaging Your Self-Improvement”

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Are You Employing This Key To Giving Effective Feedback?

Discover whether the kind of feedback you offer to your employees is employing this critical measure that drives organizational growth and success.

With December now upon us, many leaders and their organizations are now shifting their focus towards that much debated and much-maligned practice for evaluating employee productivity and effectiveness: the annual performance review.

Of course, while there has been much written lately about the ‘death of annual performance reviews’, a study done by Towers Watson revealed that – despite the high profile examples of companies like Microsoft, Accenture, and GE completely ditching their annual performance reviews – a majority of North American organizations are opting to transform their current performance review process as opposed to doing away with them completely.

Now whether you agree with continuing to use annual performance reviews or not, the fact is these discussions about this feedback tool reveal that there’s a far more pressing issue that leaders everywhere need to address – namely, what kind of feedback, if any, are we providing to those we lead?

Of course, when it comes to giving feedback, there’s a common approach that many leaders opt to use, something that’s often referred to as the ‘feedback sandwich’.

What this technique involves is starting the conversation with something positive – the argument being that this will help your employee to be receptive to what you have to say next. At this point, you offer what you really want to share, that is the negative feedback that’s the reason behind this conversation, after which you give your employee some more positive feedback in order to to help soften the blow and ‘end on a high note’.

Now in theory this might sound like a fair and balanced approach to offering someone feedback that can be hard to hear, given how we’re reinforcing or reminding them of the things they do well, before and after pointing out where they went wrong or what they need to improve on going forward.

But the reality is that it’s not so much the receiver of our feedback as it is ourselves who we’re hoping to protect through this communication ploy. That by setting up a friendly start and a reassuring ending, we might avoid the necessary unpleasantness that comes with telling someone they’re doing something wrong.

This strategy also gives us the false impression that Click here to continue reading »”Are You Employing This Key To Giving Effective Feedback?”

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The ”New Normal” For The C-Suite – Learning Agile Leaders

A look at agility and leadership and 4 strategies CEOs can use to create a learning agile C-suite team in their organization.

The following is a guest piece by Peter Thies, Ph.D.

What are CEOs looking for in the next generation of C-Suite leaders? Let’s look at three real-world examples:

1. Growth Leaders – The CEO of a multi-billion dollar industrial products company boldly sets an ambitious growth goal of growing revenue by 40% over a three-year period. He has a Board-approved strategy, a solid operating plan with targets, and a newly developed business unit organization structure to implement it.

But he also knows that this is the easy part. What’s the hard part? It’s building a cadre of leaders who can grow the company at a rapid clip. No one has asked them to do anything like this before. They have good managers, but do they have growth leaders?

2. Champions of the Greater Good – The CEO of a large, global educational services company is reorganizing to increase its impact in the company’s areas of focus. The new organizational model will enable linkages across the company, connecting people from various disciplines together to innovate and drive marketplace success.

The CEO needs to staff several newly defined senior executive roles with leaders who will drive collaboration across former fiefdoms and make decisions that put the company, not their unit, first. Which leaders will have not only domain expertise but also the ability to wear an “Enterprise Hat”?

3. Transformational Leaders – A well-respected publishing company is transforming its brand. It must reach new audiences with ever more impactful content and diversify its traditional sources of revenue. The CEO came on board with a change imperative and is heading into the third year of a multi-year transformation process.

After collaboratively developing a strategy with her Board and engaging all employees in the change process, the time is now to see the changes implemented flawlessly. She needs her leadership team to collaborate across silos, make difficult strategic and operational decisions and lead with a more integrated “One Company” mindset. Who will help her lead this transformation?

The New Normal: Learning Agile Leaders Who Operate At The Enterprise Level
These are real CEOs from real companies across vastly different industries, with different business models and different profit motives. But they share one challenge in common: Click here to continue reading »”The ”New Normal” For The C-Suite – Learning Agile Leaders”

3 Ways Leaders Can Help Bring Great Ideas To Life

3 measures leaders should employ to create an organizational culture that encourages employees to share their ideas on how to change the way we work.

The following is a guest piece by Kotter International President, Russell Raath on behalf of The Economist Executive Education Navigator.

How often have you heard the phrase “that’s not how we do it here” uttered in your workplace? When employees suggest new ways to tackle challenges, are their contributions welcomed—no matter how outside-the-box they may be? Are staff members empowered to test new ideas and report back to management on their successes, as part of helping the organization constantly adapt and improve?

Maybe you have some version of the “suggestion scheme” where ideas are sent into some inbox in the cloud – where someone (hopefully) reviews them and determines whether an idea is viable and has merit.

In most organizations, the answers to these questions are often “no” or“never”. Yet the most innovative companies—those that can face challenging times and emerge stronger than ever—often recognize a key truth that is missing in many traditional, hierarchical organizations. That truth is that great ideas don’t only come from senior management.

The idea that saves the business $10 million may come from a production line supervisor; the concept that opens up an entirely new market for your products might come from a junior sales rep.

The point, one that smart organizations have realized, is that great ideas can come from any level of the organization. This is a concept explored in great depth in Dr. John Kotter’s latest business fable, “That’s Not How We Do It Here!”, which chronicles a clan of meerkats struggling with a drought that reduces their resources and leads to the rise of dangerous new predators.

Written as a business book, there are a number of key lessons on how leaders, at any organizational level, can bring great ideas to the surface: Click here to continue reading »”3 Ways Leaders Can Help Bring Great Ideas To Life”

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