Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Building Relationships Across Cultures In Today’s World

A look at navigating the complexities of fostering networks and relationships across different cultures around the world.

The following is a guest piece by Michael Landers.

The power and importance of building relationships with others is something that’s seems to be universally understood by people from all cultures. Our web of relations creates the foundation for our lives as social creatures, no matter what culture we come from.

However, the way that we establish and expand this web of relations can vary from culture to culture. And even within a particular culture, people may network differently depending on whether or not they are doing it for work (and what kind of work they do), or to cultivate relations with friends or within other kinds of communities. Networking is a nuanced game, and it can be challenging for an outsider to learn all the subtleties of networking within another culture.

Think about why you would want to add someone to your network. In many cultures, connections are often made to accomplish a specific task, like finding a babysitter or candidates for a job. Sometimes it’s because the person has a particular expertise that is relevant to our own work, personal interests, or communities. These connections are often established—and set aside— fairly quickly, requiring little maintenance.

In other cultures, you might be more likely to add someone to your network because of their group affiliations than for their individual expertise or achievements. The networking goal is more likely to be about developing deep and long-term strategic relationships than for completing short-term tasks.

In cultures where group dynamics are paramount, the process of building networks tends to be much more Click here to continue reading »”Building Relationships Across Cultures In Today’s World”

A Prescription For Empowering Employees To Succeed And Grow

A summer job experience reveals a powerful and important lesson for today's leaders on how to not only inspire employees, but empowering them to succeed.

Last month, my oldest daughter Alya began working at her new summer job and now that she’s worked for two different companies over the past two summer periods, it’s been interesting to hear her observations about the differences in how her bosses manage their employees.

These conversations with my daughter about her work has lead to recollections of my summer job experiences, and how one in particular has helped to shape my understandings of leadership and empowering employees.

When I was 18 years old, my uncle got me a job working in the warehouse of a pharmaceutical dispensary near his house in the Toronto suburbs. I was excited and nervous about taking on the job; excited because the pay was really good, but nervous because it meant giving up spending any time with my friends back in Montreal.

My boss, Mr. Hainsworth – the owner of this and another pharmaceutical dispensary in Southern Ontario – was what many people would call a straight shooter; you always knew where you stood with him so if he had a problem with something you did, he’d be sure to let you know.

For the first weeks on the job, I have to admit that being a teenager, I was a bit intimidated by his gruff exterior, even though many of his employees reassured me that he’s actually the sweetest man you’d ever know.

My job was pretty straightforward – I worked for the warehouse supervisor making sure the dispensary shelves were properly stocked, putting in orders to resupply our drug inventory, and basically managing the warehouse on the supervisor’s days off and when he took his summer vacation break.

The hardest part of the job was that the warehouse was located in the windowless basement of the medical office building, which is why I welcomed any chance to go upstairs to the dispensary in order to catch a glimpse of the summer blue sky.

On one of the warehouse supervisor’s days off, I decided to review our current inventory against upcoming renewal orders and I found that we had on our shelves a box full of medication that had expired a month ago. Given the large quantity of prescription vials, I decided to go see Mr. Hainsworth to ask him how do I go about disposing the expired medication.

After I explained the situation, Mr. Hainsworth paused from looking at his computer screen and looked at me. Instead of answering my question, he asked Click here to continue reading »”A Prescription For Empowering Employees To Succeed And Grow”

Understanding The Power Of Expectations

Leadership expectations and employee potential

A few weeks ago, my oldest daughter and I were watching one of our favourite dramas when a scene came along that spurred on a conversation about leadership and the expectations we have about those we work for.

The scene in question revolved around one of the main characters who in his new job as a sous-chef had spent the past few days cutting over 40 pounds of potatoes into paper-thin slices. When the head chef – the main character’s boss – walks into the kitchen, the sous-chef points to the heaping bowl of potato slices on his station and tells the head chef he’s completed his task.

The head chef takes a quick look at the potato slices and tells his sous-chef that it looks like he finally got the hang of it near the end. The head chef then takes the large bowl of potato slices and tosses them in the garbage.

As his sous-chef starts to blurt out his exasperation at seeing days of his work being tossed away, the head chef pulls him over to another cutting board and takes out an odd looking vegetable. He then tells his sous-chef to slice the vegetable using the same technique he used with the potatoes.

After making a few paper-thin slices, the head chef picks up a slice and tells his sous-chef that the odd-looking vegetable is a white truffle that goes for over $1000.00/pound.

The head chef then tells his sous-chef that cooking is an art – that to succeed at it, you need more than dedication and precision, you need something innate; something he sees in his new sous-chef. And that’s why he wanted his sous-chef to cut all those potatoes – so he could develop his innate skills in order to better learn the techniques involved in classic culinary prep work.

After seeing the interplay between this boss and his new employee, my daughter – who for the past few weeks has been sending out resumes for summer job positions – looked at me and said ‘I want to work for a boss like that’.

Her reaction was not surprising – after all, who wouldn’t want to work for a boss who recognizes our innate potential and provides us with the guidance and support to help develop that potential?

Unfortunately, I met my daughter’s hopeful enthusiasm with a discouraging reply, pointing out how it’s a rare occurrence to work for a boss who encourages the growth of their employees.

Now granted, it is important to provide children with a realistic world-view of what’s awaiting them out there in the real world. And yet, at the same time, I realized that this conversation shines a light on the bigger issue of Click here to continue reading »”Understanding The Power Of Expectations”

The One Thing Today’s Leaders Need To Do

Whats-Your-Purpose-Blog-Post-Quote

One of the things I enjoy about the various talks I give is the conversations I have afterwards with leaders in the audience. These interactions not only give me the chance to understand which leadership insights resonated with them the most, but it also allows me to learn more about the current challenges and pain points they’re looking to resolve in their organization.

Recently, I was reminded of one of these conversations where a senior VP asked me this question – ‘what would you say is the one thing that every leader should do?’ Now on the surface, this question might seem to infer one of those quick-fix, set-it-and-forget-it solutions that leaders could employ in order to shift their focus to other issues demanding their time and attention.

After all, when it comes to leadership, our ability to succeed in this role involves more than just one skill set or approach, something that’s particularly evident when we consider the increasing demands and ever-changing conditions that shape and define today’s workplace environment.

And yet, despite those increasing demands and distractions – not to mention the need for continuous adaptation and innovation in light of changes that are brought on both within and outside the organization – there is in fact one thing that every leader today should be doing.

Regardless of what position they hold or what industry they operate within, today’s leaders need to make sure that their actions and words serve to answer this one important question – what is our purpose?

Granted, as leaders, we all understand the importance of creating and communicating a vision or mission statement that serves to tell both our employees and those we hope to serve what it is that we create or offer.

Unfortunately, when it comes to defining that vision for our organization, many of us struggle because we make the process of creating it too complex, too unwieldy and consequently, we end up with a message that’s not as relatable as we need it be, nor is it truly effective as being an idea or vision that others would willingly rally around.

When it comes to answering the question of what is our purpose, we too easily get bogged down in the process of conceptualization because we think of our collective purpose in fuzzy terms and not in a manner that best connects this message, this idea with what matters to those under our care.

And many times, we also forget that Click here to continue reading »”The One Thing Today’s Leaders Need To Do”

Why Storytelling Matters In Today’s Leadership

Power-of-storytelling-leadership

With this latest piece on my leadership blog, I’m delighted to announce a new partnership with The Economist Executive Education Navigator. The opportunity to collaborate with such a respected and renowned publication is both an exciting opportunity and a great honour.

Through this new partnership, I will be contributing articles to The Economist Executive Education Navigator and in addition, I will be featuring articles originally published on The Economist Executive Education Navigator website. So to kickstart this new partnership, I decided to reprint the article below on the importance of storytelling skills for today’s leaders. But before I do, allow me to first share my own thoughts on this topic.

Of the many skills and traits that today’s leaders are expected to have in order to help their organization succeed and thrive, effective communication is without question one of critical foundation stones for successful leadership in today’s interconnected, digital world.

Of course, when it comes to discussions on how leaders can do a better job communicating their idea or vision to those under their care, there is naturally a focus on how leaders can employ storytelling to not only articulate their vision, but how this communication tool can help motivate employees to commit their native talents, creativity, and insights to making that shared purpose a reality.

Granted, in this digital age of text messages, emails, video conferencing, and social media, storytelling as a communication tool can seem a bit quaint, harkening more the image of people sitting around a campfire sharing stories than around a conference table trying to figure out the next steps of a new initiative or how to resolve a current issue.

But the fact remains that storytelling is a powerful and effective vehicle for leaders to better inform, inspire, and educate those they lead of not only the journey before them, but of the challenges that stand in their way.

The simple truth is that no one Click here to continue reading »”Why Storytelling Matters In Today’s Leadership”

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