TanveerNaseer.com

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

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 »”An Astronaut’s View Of The Power Of We”

3 Lessons On How To Promote Successful Collaborations

Leadership-promoting-successful-collaborations

One of the benefits I garner through my work are opportunities to collaborate with different groups and individuals. Through these collaborations, I not only get the chance to learn and understand different perspectives, but to discover new ways to work with people who have different approaches to guide things forward.

Of course, as with anything in life, not all collaborations are created equal. Although I look forward to future collaborations with many of the people and groups I’ve worked with in the past, there are some collaborations that were not as satisfying or rewarding. Not so much in terms of how successful we were in attaining our objectives, but in how certain parties approached the collaboration process.

Interestingly, it’s a problem that my two oldest daughters also experience in high school where teachers assign them projects to collaborate on without providing any guidance or support on how to do this effectively. This no doubt mirrors our own educational experiences, where we were somehow expected to know how to collaborate with different partners in order to achieve a successful result.

Taken together, what this reveals is an uncomfortable truth about the nature of work: we understand the importance of collaboration, but most of us haven’t learned what that involves [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]. And in light of today’s rush to just get things done, leaders are not engendering a supportive environment for their employees to learn how they can successfully collaborate with different teams and departments in order to achieve their organization’s shared purpose.

As such, I’d like to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned from my past collaborations, lessons I’ve shared with both my clients and my daughters on how we can learn to be successful in our present and future collaborations by gaining a better understanding of what it entails.

1. Clarify expectations in terms of involvement and contributions
When I look back at the various partnerships I’ve had with different groups and individuals, one trait that these collaborations shared in common was how there was this collective drive and enthusiasm to roll up our sleeves and dive into the work.

And yet, if I look at those collaborations which I enjoyed the most – those that have fuelled an interest in finding opportunities to collaborate in the future – there was something we did before we mapped out any plans or began assigning tasks.

Namely, before anything else was done, we made time to Click here to continue reading »”3 Lessons On How To Promote Successful Collaborations”

Why We Fail At Leadership

Leadership-failure

When it comes to studying leadership, the natural tendency is to focus on those leaders whose successes and achievements continue to inspire us and drive so many to emulate them in the hopes of replicating their accomplishments.

Of course, as much as it’s important for us to see what we can learn from those who understand what it takes to succeed at leadership, it’s also valuable for us to examine and consider what causes others to fail in the role of leading people towards a common goal or shared purpose.

To that end, I’d like to share the story of one leader whose example I hope will help us to appreciate one of the key challenges leaders need to address if they are to succeed in this role in today’s fast-changing, global environment.

When Albert* was promoted to head the division he had spent the past few years working for, he naturally jumped into the opportunity with a lot of enthusiasm and ideas of how he’d like the department to operate under his leadership.

Given how Albert was career-driven and had his eyes on playing a bigger role in the organization, he was determined to not only prove his ability to lead this department, but to get his former colleagues to view him as ‘executive material’, in order to support his efforts to move up in the organization.

In no time, Albert was sending out memos detailing new approaches he wanted his former colleagues to employ in order to ‘make things more efficient’ or to ‘make efforts more aligned with corporate policy’ as a way to prove his technical prowess.

He used team meetings to inform his direct reports of his interactions with various groups of executives and VPs to highlight his growing familiarity with those at the executive level in order to prove his comfort level with ‘playing in the big leagues’.

Of course, in his zeal to prove his ability to lead and step up into the executive circle, Albert ended up making a number of missteps which Click here to continue reading »”Why We Fail At Leadership”

How A Sense Of Community Can Help Us Achieve Greatness

Organizational-community-fosters-greatness

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of being interviewed by various media outlets about my first book, “Leadership Vertigo”. What’s been interesting about this process is how in many of these conversations, there was much interest to discuss the point made in the book about the importance of leaders fostering a sense of community in their organizations.

As long-time readers of my writings on leadership know, this is something that’s been an underlying theme in many of my insights into how we can be a better leader to those we serve – where we ensure that we’re creating an environment where our employees understand the value of their contributions and why we collectively do what we do.

Of course, in these conversations about my book, the focus is not on the relevance of community-building in today’s organizations, but rather how do we go about doing this in light of the numerous demands on a leader’s time, attention and resources while operating in a doing-more-with-less environment.

It’s a great question and the answer to which is one that I want to share with my readers so that they too can understand how we can go about fostering that sense of community in our organizations despite the accelerated pace that we now have to operate in.

And to help illustrate these points, I’m going to use examples from two very diverse organizations – Pixar Animation Studios and the European Space Agency – in order to help demonstrate the value and importance of fostering a sense of belonging and purpose to helping your organization to succeed and thrive now and in the years ahead.

1. Create opportunities for employees to interact outside of formal roles
When Pixar began designing its new campus ground in Emeryville, California, then Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs wanted to create a common meeting space for the organization’s employees in order to facilitate sparks of creativity, inspiration, and “unplanned collaborations”.

The goal in establishing such an environment was simple – by creating an open space for people to meet and discuss, employees from different departments would be encouraged to Click here to continue reading »”How A Sense Of Community Can Help Us Achieve Greatness”

How To Encourage Growth Under A Controlling Boss

Dealing-with-controlling-boss

One of the things I enjoy about my work is having conversations with people about the nature of leadership, and the challenges and opportunities leaders face in this continually evolving, interconnected business environment.

One of these conversations lead to a discussion about how leaders who want to push for change can deal with those above them who operate from the command-and-control style of leadership – in other words, those that subscribe to the overtly-controlling it’s my way or you’re out approach.

Since that conversation, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss and learn about how both employees and other leaders are also grappling with this organizational schism of dealing with someone stuck in an Industrial Age mindset of top-down leadership, while having to address today’s challenges and issues which require a more collaborative, inclusive and open workplace dynamic.

Based on these conversations, I’d like to share the following three measures that can help both employees and leaders who have to deal with a controlling boss who is clearly stuck in the ‘this is the way things are done around here’ mindset to ensure that they are able to promote growth and collective success in their organization.

1. Don’t focus on your value but on the value you can create
One of the common issues I hear when I discuss with clients and colleagues this issue of working for a controlling boss – especially those that operate from a top-down, win-at-all-costs leadership mindset – is how they feel like they’re more a means to an end than a valued contributor to their organization.

In discussing this situation, one thing that becomes clear is that both parties are almost speaking a different language in terms of their perspective and perception. For employees, their focus is on how to get those in charge to see them as being something more than what they do. For controlling bosses, however, their focus is simply on what they want their employees to get done in order to obtain their desired end result, regardless of the impact or impression that leaves on those under their care.

To resolve this difference in focus and attitudes, we need to Click here to continue reading »”How To Encourage Growth Under A Controlling Boss”

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