TanveerNaseer.com

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

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”

Leadership Biz Cafe Podcast #19 – David Burkus On Why Organizations Need To Change The Way We Work

Leadership Biz Cafe with Tanveer Naseer. Guest: David Burkus

If there’s one thing every leader out there can agree on, it’s that the way we work has drastically changed over the past few decades, and in today’s interconnected, global environment, that change is now happening at a much more accelerated pace than ever before.

In light of these fundamental shifts to the way we work, which 20th century management principles should we stop using, and what do we replace them with in order to ensure we’re bringing out the best in those we lead? This question about the changing nature of today’s workplace environment and the impact it has on the way we lead is the focus of my conversation with management expert David Burkus.

David is a best-selling author, an award-winning podcaster, and an associate management professor at Oral Roberts University. In addition to his first book, “The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas”, David’s writings have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Listeners of my leadership podcast may also recognize David as the guest host who interviewed me about my book “Leadership Vertigo” as part of the month long celebration here on my website around the release of my first leadership book.

His latest book is “Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business As Usual”, which will be the focus of our conversation in this episode.

Over the course of this episode, David and I discuss some of the ideas and findings he shares in his book (some which can seem a bit controversial) including: Click here to continue reading »”Leadership Biz Cafe Podcast #19 – David Burkus On Why Organizations Need To Change The Way We Work”

What Leaders Need To Do To Help Their Employees Succeed

Transforming-passion-into-purpose

When I was nine years old, my older cousin got a brand new chopper bicycle for his birthday and it was probably the coolest bike I ever saw. With its hot lime green chassis, checker-board banana seat, and a sports car-inspired gear shift affixed to the bike body just in front of the seat, this bike looked more like a hot rod than a conventional bicycle.

The first time I saw it, I wanted so badly to take it for a spin, and so I ran to my older cousin and asked him if I could take his bike for a ride around the block. Given how it was a new bike and I was only nine, my older cousin clearly had no interest lending his bike to me.

Every summer after that, when we went to visit my uncle, aunt and my cousin, it was always the same answer my cousin gave me when I asked him once more if I could try his bike – “No”. Despite those repeated negative answers to my query, I never once wavered in my eagerness and anticipation of one day riding that bike.

A couple of years pass by, and on one of our summer trips to my uncle and aunt’s place, my aunt tells me how my older cousin is going to be taking his driver’s test soon. Given how he’ll be driving around town, my aunt tells me that he has little use for his chopper bike. She then looks at me and asks “Would you like to take his bike home with you?”

I couldn’t believe my ears. After years of asking my cousin to let me ride his chopper bike, his mom was now offering to make it mine. It didn’t take long for me to blurt out a very excited “Yes!”.

Of course, my parents being the pragmatic types thought that I should try the bike first before accepting it. Given how I’d waited years just to ride this bike, I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to actually own it. So I assured my parents that this bike was a good fit and so we packed up the bike and headed back to Montreal.

As we got home late that evening, I couldn’t try out my new bike until the next day which I figured was okay as that meant that I could show it off to my friends the next morning when I biked over to the neighbourhood park.

The next day, I went out to the garage, excited that I was finally going to be able to take this bike out for a ride. As I rode off our driveway and onto the street, though, I had an unexpected realization about this chopper bicycle – it was just a bike.

For years, I had built in my head this grand notion of what it would feel like riding this bike; of feeling that rush of excitement as I raced down the street on this eye-catching bicycle. As it turned out, riding this bike didn’t feel any different from riding any other bike.

So instead of being this amazing, exhilarating ride, it was actually unremarkable and even at times uncomfortable, especially when it came to changing the gears as the shift handle was difficult to reach. It comes as no surprise then why this bike remains the only one I’ve ever seen that had the gear shift placed down on the bike frame between the handlebars and the bike seat.

Now while my story ended in disappointment, but with an important life lesson on how sometimes things don’t live up to our expectations, I want to share another story – specifically, that of a painter – and how the contrast between his experience and mine can shed light on what leaders need to do to help their employees to succeed. Click here to continue reading »”What Leaders Need To Do To Help Their Employees Succeed”

Are You Helping Your Employees To Reach Their Potential?

Using-Leadership-To-See-Potential-In-Employees

When it comes to my role serving as the Governing Board Chairman at my daughters’ high school, one aspect of this leadership role that I enjoy the most is being invited to school events that celebrate the achievements of our students.

After all, when you spend much of your time discussing school budget issues, funding projects, approving various school policies and the like, having the opportunity to talk with students to learn about their accomplishments really helps to provide a context for the collective efforts of my team.

The most recent student celebratory event was particularly noteworthy as the focus was not on the best and brightest students in our school community. Instead, it was on students participating in a work-study program designed for students at-risk of dropping out or who suffer from intellectual disabilities.

The goal of this school-based program is simple – to provide these students with both a knowledge base and hands-on experience that will allow them to join the workforce at the end of the three year program. As these students are not the high achievers who win academic or athletic awards, they typically tend to get overlooked by others because there’s no rising star to be found among them.

And yet, a conversation I had with one of these students not only challenged that notion, but it helped to reveal a very important lesson that every leader today can benefit from. A lesson on how we can bring out the best in every employee under our care.

Before joining this work-study program, Malik was one of several students at-risk of dropping out of school, not just because he struggled to keep up with the school work, but also because he was extremely disorganized. As he told me when sharing his story, he had a hard time with the regular school work load because he couldn’t keep track of the various assignments he had to do.

It was at this point that Malik directed my focus to this binder he had on the table. As he revealed the contents inside his binder, he told me about how this program had helped him to become more organized, not just in how he managed his homework, but also in how he maintained his work station.

Most interestingly, Malik admitted that his newfound ability to be more organized has spilled into his family life as well in that he not only keeps his room clean, but he also makes his bed every morning, something his parents had never imagined he’d do.

Granted, this kind of effort would hardly be considered noteworthy or exceptional for most of us. But the point to here is not what Malik and his classmates accomplished. Rather, what Malik’s story reveals is the importance of helping those we lead to discover their potential to do more, to be more than they are today.

In the case of Malik and his fellow classmates, what helped drive their transformation to feeling like what they do matters and is important was Click here to continue reading »”Are You Helping Your Employees To Reach Their Potential?”

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”

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