TanveerNaseer.com

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

How Summer Vacation Can Drive Us To Succeed

A study on motivation and perception reveals a powerful truth for how leaders can use summer vacation breaks to motivate the best in their employees.

Of all the seasons of the year, summer is without question my favourite and no month encapsulates that summertime feeling more than the month of July. Not only is this the first full month where my girls are officially off-school, but this month also marks the return of one of my favourite summer festivals here in Montreal, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (if you haven’t attended this festival, this is definitely something to experience, whether you’re a Jazz fan or not).

Of course, the month of July also marks the beginning of the summer vacation period, and so it’s only natural that there’s much interest right now in exploring the topic of leadership and summer vacation.

While I’ve written in the past about why it’s important for leaders to make time for a vacation break, I wanted to shift the focus in this piece to look at the findings of a recent study that offers some valuable insights into how we can increase our motivation to achieve our shared goals when we return back to work following a vacation break.

Researchers from The Wharton School have been studying what they call the “fresh-start effect” and the impact this has on our motivational drive to achieve the goals we set up for ourselves. As part of their study published in “Psychological Science”, Dr. Katherine Milkman and her team of researchers conducted an experiment where they asked study participants to describe a personal goal they haven’t yet achieved but would like to attain later in the year.

The researchers then divided the participants into two groups and gave each one a different scenario to imagine. For the first group, the researchers asked them to imagine that they had moved into a new apartment after living in the same place for the past nine years.

For the second group, they also asked them to imagine moving into a new apartment, but in their case the scenario was that they had moved every year over the past nine years.

The participants in both groups were then asked to describe how motivated they were to begin work on achieving their goal after moving into this new apartment. What the researchers found was that the study participants who had moved into a new apartment after staying in the same place for nine years were far more motivated to achieve their goal than those who had moved every year.

The researchers concluded that study participants “would be more motivated to start tackling their personal goal after a psychologically meaningful relocation than they would be after a relocation that was less psychologically meaningful.”

So what does this study’s findings have to do with increasing our motivation to achieve our goals after returning from a vacation break? Well, as the researchers pointed out, while all of us are driven to Click here to continue reading »”How Summer Vacation Can Drive Us To Succeed”

Understanding What Drives Us To Push Ahead

How do we motivate our employees – and ourselves – when the focus is simply on getting today's work done?

As the month of June begins to wind down, I’ve found myself reflecting on a unique milestone for my blog – namely, how this month marks my 8th year of writing my blog, marking almost a decade of sharing my writings and insights with my online readership.

I have to be honest in admitting that I never imagined that I’d be writing a blog for so long, where I put out new ideas and insights every week. Extrapolate that out over eight years and that means over 400 articles on communication, vision, teamwork, shared purpose, employee engagement, strategy, and so many other topics found under the umbrella of leadership.

Then again, creating new articles to share your ideas and insights on leadership doesn’t come with a fixed end point – a date and time that you can circle on a calendar or enter into an app as being the finish line.

Indeed, as is the case with leadership, you can’t know ahead when you’ll be done until you reach that moment where you can survey the landscape around you and know that you’ve done what you were meant to do, and that it’s now time to hand over the helm to someone else.

Of course, there are times well before you cross that finish line where you might feel the desire – or perhaps more accurately, the fatigue – that comes with delivering on the expectations others have of you; a feeling that makes you want to call it a day and let someone else mind the store.

It’s certainly a thought that comes to mind at times when I’m sitting at my computer trying to figure out what to write next – of what lessons I can share from the work I do, from the conversations I have with various leaders, or even from things I observe going on around me.

In those moments of creative stillness, I find myself facing one critical question to determine which fork in the road I should take; between moving on or moving ahead – does what I do still matter?

Now, I could use various metrics for my blog to help evaluate that question. This is, after all, the age of Big Data, where so many of those critical insights that we need to determine our progress, of where we need to focus our limited time and resources to obtain the end outcomes we desire can be extracted from reams of data tracking almost every aspect of modern work and life.

And yet, what this fails to take into consideration is that leadership is not found in a spreadsheet, but in the relationships we have with those we lead [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter].

One thing that I’ve come to rely on to remind me of this notion is Click here to continue reading »”Understanding What Drives Us To Push Ahead”

Are You Giving The Right Message With Your Leadership?

When it comes to praise, it's not just how often leaders give it, but also what kind. Discover how this difference can help to empower your employees.

A few weeks ago, my friend Whitney Johnson wrote a piece around perceptual biases that was inspired by something her daughter experienced in school one day. As Whitney describes in her piece, her daughter gave a presentation in one of her classes, a presentation she had spent much time and effort researching and practising. After she was done, her teacher commented “that was pretty good.”

Soon after, one of her male classmates stood up to give his presentation. From her daughter’s perspective, this classmate’s presentation was a lot less organized and he wasn’t as articulate. But when he finished his presentation, the teacher remarked “Great job”.

Reading about the experience Whitney’s daughter had at her school reminded me of a study done by researchers at the University of Chicago and Stanford University which found that while parents give an equal amount of praise to both girls and boys, they differ significantly in the type of praise they provide based on the gender of their child.

What the researchers found was that parents were more likely to praise a boy for his efforts or actions (“you really worked hard on that”) while girls were praised more in terms of who they are (“you’re so smart”).

The researchers found that this discrepancy in giving girls more what they call “person praise” over “process praise” leaves them vulnerable to thinking that if they don’t do well on a test or on an assignment, it’s a reflection more of the limits of their intelligence or abilities than on the level of effort they needed to give in order to succeed.

Although this study – and what Whitney’s daughter experienced at school – reveal some of the biases that both men and women demonstrate towards girls, and its impact on how girls view their accomplishments, I’d like to pivot here and focus on what this reveals about the way we communicate and in particular, what messages we’re really imparting to those we lead.

One thing that’s abundantly clear from the various studies on employee engagement and organizational success is that today’s leaders need to Click here to continue reading »”Are You Giving The Right Message With Your Leadership?”

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”

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