Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Does Your Leadership Bring Out The Best In Those You Lead?

The findings of a recent global study reveal some important points for leaders on how to ensure they are creating a workplace environment that brings out the best in their employees.

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a noticeable uptick in leadership and management articles focusing on the topic of how leaders can ensure that they are providing a ‘safe’ environment for all of their employees. There’s little doubt that the rising interest in this topic is in response to the outcome of the recent presidential election in the United States.

While it’s unfortunate that we even have to consider or discuss such issues in today’s organizations, it does serve as a potent reminder of an even larger issue that affects all employees, and not just those who belong to a particular minority group. And that is, what kind of organizational climate are you helping or enabling to take root within your organization?

Now, to be clear, I’m not simply referring to whether you have a toxic workplace environment within your company’s walls. Rather, this is about whether you’re creating conditions where people are driven to bring their full selves to the work they do, or whether your employees are simply doing what’s expected of them. That they are simply reacting to what they see going on around them, instead of being proactive in finding ways to ensure your collective success in achieving your long term goals.

The reason why leaders need to be concerned about this issue as we begin to shift our focus to the new year ahead can be found in the findings of a recent survey done by Dale Carnegie Training, where they interviewed over 3 300 full-time employees in 14 countries, including Canada, United States, and the United Kingdom.

Through their survey, the researchers found that 44% of employees worldwide said that they will be looking for a new job in 2017 (in the US alone, 26% of employees said they’d be looking for a new job in the next 12 months, while 15% said they’re already actively looking for a new place to work).

To put this another way, what this means is that almost half of your workforce is at risk of looking for a new job in 2017, a troubling statistic to be sure. Of course, I’m sure many leaders will try to reassure themselves by pointing to the current job market in their industry; of how there are fewer better options out there that might convince some of their employees to jump ship.

But what we really need to take note of here is not whether 40% of our employees might leave our organization in 2017. Rather, the critical message here is the implications of having almost half of your employees thinking about looking for work elsewhere. Namely, that while these employees are doing the work that’s been assigned to them, they’re not fully committed to giving their best efforts towards helping you to achieve your vision or shared purpose.

And frankly, the truth is leadership is not about enabling people to meet expectations, but empowering them to exceed them [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter].

Again, going back to this Dale Carnegie Training study, the researchers reported that “effective leaders develop themselves and create a safe environment that fosters their employees’ capacity to grow”, as almost 80% of employees worldwide have stated that a key motivating factor is having a leader who “encourages me and makes me believe in my ability to improve” instead of simply being “satisfied with competence”.

Not surprisingly, this study also found that one of the things employees want to see their leaders provide more of is Click here to continue reading »”Does Your Leadership Bring Out The Best In Those You Lead?”

Timing Leadership For Today’s Faster-Paced World

A look at the two different ways we experience time and how leaders can manage these perceptions to improve their organization's performance.

The following is a guest piece by Sally Blount, Dean of the Kellogg School of Management, and Sophie Leroy, assistant professor at University of Washington’s Bothell’s School.

CEO tenure in the Fortune 500 has fallen from an average of 11 years in 2002 to six years today. The average life span of a company in the Fortune 500 has shrunk from 25 years in 1980 to just 15 today. The end result is a pervasive sense of anxiety and time famine, as both companies and the executives within them struggle to keep up.

But speed and urgency, although necessary attributes of leadership, are not sufficient. In fact, our research suggests that the leaders who can tether an obsession with deadlines and time to an ability to sense the work and energy flow of their colleagues will have the most success.

Cultural anthropologists were the first to recognize that people tend to track time in two ways: clock time and social time. Under clock time, punctuality and predictability are highly valued. People adhere strictly to deadlines and appointment times.

Under social time, by contrast, conversational and relational smoothness and the ability to complete a thought or interaction without abruptness are valued. A fluid sense of natural rhythm in conversations and interactions over time enhances relationship building.

Research found that, traditionally, southern European and Latin cultures placed more emphasis on social time and Anglo-Saxon cultures placed more emphasis on clock time. But these cultural differences are beginning to wane as more of the world moves to a global business culture driven by clock time. Still, within the same culture, research has long found significant differences in how people experience time. Click here to continue reading »”Timing Leadership For Today’s Faster-Paced World”

A Timely Reminder Of The Power Of Empathy In Leadership

This week's US election day provides a unique backdrop on which to illustrate the importance of empathy in today's leadership.

No matter where you live, there’s no question that the big story this week is the arrival of the US election and who the American public has decided to serve their country as their next President. For those outside of the US, it’s been both an interesting and troubling journey the US electorate has been put through, especially in its final few months.

Although I’m Canadian, it’s easy to relate to and understand the frustration and dismay many Americans have felt over the course of this election period, along with a good dose of wariness for what lies ahead after the election is over, regardless of who wins.

And yet, this current US election does provide an important lesson for leaders everywhere of just how important empathy is becoming to our ability to lead, as we’ve been given a concrete example of just how quickly things can fall apart when we divide people into groups of “us” versus “them”.

And to be clear, politics is not the only domain where this happens. All of us have had the experience of working with someone we don’t like, and sometimes even someone who we feel – or even know – is working to undermine our authority or credibility in the eyes of our co-workers or those we lead.

And in those circumstances, it becomes very easy for us to delineate those we view to be in “our camp” and those who we look upon with doubt and mistrust because they align themselves with those we dislike.

But what this past US election has shown us is that if we allow those feelings to fester, if we choose to allow others to exploit and drive that wedge that separates people based on what we lack in common with one another, we will end up not only with a more hostile work environment, but we will be permitting conditions to take hold that will make it even more difficult for our employees to get things done.

And this is why emotional intelligence and in particular, empathy, has become so critical to our ability to effectively lead others – empathy allows us to bridge the gap between how we see things and how others experience them [Twitter-logo-smallShare 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 Click here to continue reading »”A Timely Reminder Of The Power Of Empathy In Leadership”

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”

Why Expressing Gratitude Through Our Leadership Matters

A look at how expressing gratitude can help leaders bring out the best in those they lead and drive their organizations to succeed.

This past weekend marked the celebration of Thanksgiving Day here in Canada, our last holiday long-weekend before the inevitable cold blast of winter arrives to blanket our country in snow and ice. While Thanksgiving in Canada differs from that in the United States in being a celebration of the end of the harvest period, what these two holidays share in common is that it’s a holiday for spending time with family, and expressing gratitude for the good fortune we’ve experienced this year.

After spending time with my family this weekend and catching up with everyone, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between those moments of sharing words of gratitude with my family with those moments where leaders express gratitude to those they lead.

After all, more than simply being a nice thing to do, expressing gratitude through our leadership has been shown to have a tangible impact on the overall productivity of our employees, if not also on the level of commitment they bring to the work they do.

For the past several years, Dr. Adam Grant and Dr. Francesca Gino have been studying how expressions of gratitude impact prosocial behaviour and fuel motivational drive, and one study in particular provides some interesting insights for leaders on the benefits of expressing gratitude to those under our care.

Dr. Grant and Dr. Gino conducted an experiment to look at how expressing gratitude would affect the motivation and commitment levels of fundraisers who were hired to raise funds for a university from within their alumni community.

For this experiment, the fundraisers were paid a fixed amount regardless of how many calls they made, and each of them was provided with daily feedback about their performance. The fundraisers were separated into two groups working different shifts, with one group getting a visit from a university director who personally thanked the fundraisers for their work, while the other group was simply left to do their assigned tasks.

What the researchers found was that the fundraisers who received those messages of gratitude from the university director made more phone calls to help raise money for the university as compared to those who hadn’t.

Upon reviewing the results of their experiment, Dr. Grant and Dr. Gino concluded that expressions of gratitude increase employee motivation and performance levels because it makes people feel ‘socially valued’.

Now to be clear, this doesn’t mean that all we have to do is say ‘thank you’ to our employees in order to increase their productivity. Rather, what this study’s findings demonstrate is that a genuine recognition of your employee’s efforts will ignite their internal drive and commitment [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter].

In other words, this isn’t about Click here to continue reading »”Why Expressing Gratitude Through Our Leadership Matters”

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