Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Stop Aspiring To Lead And Start Leading By Giving Support

For organizations to succeed, leaders need to learn how to provide better support for their employees. Learn where to begin with this piece.
The following is a guest piece by Inc. columnist and NYU Adjunct Professor Joshua Spodek
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People who aspire to lead look upward in a hierarchy to find power and authority they can grab onto to pull themselves up. That’s why they’re still aspiring and not leading. People above them can sense their craving, which they can motivate them with, which makes them followers, not leaders.

Great, effective leaders support people, which means not looking up but looking around at people at all levels. Supporting people attracts them to your team. Support creates loyalty, dedication, and results. People who support become leaders because people want to follow them. They buoy themselves up through effective action, which means getting things done.

Why you don’t know how to support

The challenge to grow your teams, followers, and community is more than knowing you have to support people. Everyone knows what they should do in the abstract. The challenge is knowing how and doing it. Schools don’t teach it. Media don’t show this bread-and-butter but not dramatic part of leadership. What’s effective doesn’t sell movie tickets.

In my book, “Leadership Step by Step“, I treat support as the culmination of the leadership skills that you reach after mastering everything else. I think of it like the serve in tennis. It may be an important part of the game, maybe the most important, but it’s hard, so you don’t learn it first. Learning it requires Click here to continue reading »”Stop Aspiring To Lead And Start Leading By Giving Support”

3 Keys For Building Relationships With Those You Lead

A leader's ability to build relationships with their employees is fast becoming a critical key to their success. Learn about 3 strategies that will help you build relationships with those you lead.

For almost 10 years, I’ve been writing about leadership and in that time, perhaps one of the most significant shifts I’ve seen has been the willingness to recognize that the key to our success as leaders stems from the relationships we foster and nurture with those we lead.

That we no longer view employees through the lens of Fredrick Taylor’s scientific approach to management – where people are merely assets, and interactions are transactional in nature.

Aside from notions of this being the ‘right thing to do’, this shift from transactional to relationship-based leadership has been proven to create tangible benefits – if not also a competitive edge – for today’s organizations.

In fact, a recent study by Harvard researchers found that when leaders focus on building relationships with their employees, they create conditions that lead to higher levels of organizational commitment, as well as increased employee accountability for their performance and greater satisfaction with their jobs.

This is one of the reasons why I’m looking forward to speaking at the Totem Summit in Whistler, British Columbia later this month because the goal of this conference is building relationships. Specifically, the majority of the conference day involves participating in outdoor activities to allow attendees to interact and engage with the invited guests and speakers. It’s only at the end of the day that attendees will hear speakers like myself share our insights and advice.

This shift in focus in how conferences are designed reflects the current reality in today’s workplaces. Namely, that our ability to succeed and thrive is not simply predicated by the knowledge and skills we’ve accrued, but also by the relationships we seek out to create and build.

Of course, while we might state that building relationships is the key to leadership success, it’s hard to reconcile this truth in the face of today’s faster-paced, ever-changing global environment.

Although we may have access to a greater number of channels through which to communicate and exchange ideas, that doesn’t mean that we’re being effective in creating lasting and meaningful bonds with those around us, and especially with those we lead.

So with that in mind, I’d like to share a few strategies that will help leaders create the proper conditions to truly connect and engage with their employees, and in so doing, provide a workplace environment that engenders greater levels of employee commitment, accountability, and success. Click here to continue reading »”3 Keys For Building Relationships With Those You Lead”

What Storytelling Reveals As The Role Leaders Should Play

A revealing look at three stories that help to illustrate how the function of leaders is to serve as mentors for the real heroes of their organization – their employees.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about 3 fundamental storytelling elements leaders should employ to successfully drive change.

Now when it comes to using storytelling to help describe our vision or change initiative, the common tendency is to frame our story within the hero on a quest narrative, given how it’s the decisions and choices we make through our leadership that ultimately impact whether we collectively succeed or fail.

And yet, the truth is that while we may be the source of the vision or change initiative that guides our collective efforts, the actual role we play as leaders in our organization’s story is not that of the hero, but that of the mentor.

To understand why the role of mentor is the proper fit for leaders in terms of the journey your organization needs to take, let’s start off by looking at the three characteristics that define what a mentor does:

1. Mentors act as our teacher and guide
The most common role mentors play is that of a teacher and guide; that they use their own experiences and insights to help others learn about themselves and find the path they are meant to take to achieve a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives.

2. Mentors serve as both our cheerleader and our challenger
Mentors will often cheer us on – inspiring us to keep pushing ahead, and eager to celebrate our successes. But mentors also challenge us to question our assumptions of what we’re capable of and what we can achieve.

3. The mentoring relationship has a fixed end point
There’s a clear end point in the relationship between the mentor and the mentee. Specifically, that once the mentor has provided their mentee with all the help and guidance they can provide, it’s time for the mentee to use their acquired knowledge and insights to continue their journey on their own.

Taken together, these three characteristics illustrate what Christopher Vogler wrote in his book, “The Writer’s Journey”:

“Mentors provide heroes with motivation, inspiration, guidance, training, and gifts for the journey. Every hero is guided by something, and a story without some acknowledgement of this energy is incomplete.”

Interestingly, Vogler’s description of the role mentors play in storytelling mirrors the function of effective leadership. Namely, that it’s a leader’s responsibility to craft a vision that inspires people to commit their best efforts, as well as providing our employees with the support and guidance to help make that vision a reality.

Of course, when it comes to storytelling, it’s easy for us to imagine ourselves being the heroes of our organization’s story thanks to our leadership role. And yet, the simple truth is that as leaders, we serve as the mentor to the real heroes of our organization’s story – our employees [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

With that in mind, I’d like to share stories from three different movies that help shine a light on how we can serve as mentors through our leadership to bring out the best in those we lead: Click here to continue reading »”What Storytelling Reveals As The Role Leaders Should Play”

How Would You Answer This Question About Your Leadership?

A question every leader should be asking themselves in order to figure out how successful they'll ultimately be in their collective efforts.

When it comes to leadership, there are many facets that we examine and explore in our drive to learn how we can succeed in leading our team and organization. But one aspect that’s rarely looked at is how the way we view our role can leave us creating more of a polarizing effect than a unifying one.

It’s a notion that I’ve been pondering about as I observe the reactions to the last week’s inauguration of of the new US president. Certainly, there can be no doubt that – regardless of your political leanings – the new US president is certainly a polarizing figure. In that light, it’s not surprising to see a growing division within the US population between those who support and champion him, and those who oppose him and what he represents.

But what’s been interesting to note is that small fragment found in between these two diverging groups – people who are openly against the new presidency, but who are encouraging their fellow Americans to put aside their differences and to support him as their president.

As a Canadian, I have to admit to finding this notion to be a bit odd. Granted, I can understand the emotional need behind these pleas – after all, who wouldn’t be hurt and dismayed from seeing a growing division and outright resentment brewing within the various groups that make up your country.

And yet, for me at least, the ability to openly challenge, criticize, and oppose your nation’s leader is one of the very hallmarks of both democracy and patriotism. Indeed, I for one was very vocal in publicly speaking against both our previous Prime Minister and previous Quebec Premier because I sincerely believed that their vision for my country and for my province were not what was best for our society, and certainly not what would guarantee a more prosperous and stable future for everyone.

In other words, my dissension and criticism wasn’t simply directed towards their role of being the Prime Minister of Canada or the Quebec Premier. Rather, it was about their vision and their goals, and whether those were things that I wanted to personally commit myself as a citizen to helping become a part of our collective reality.

That distinction is something that we often recognize in our conversations and examinations about the nature of leadership; that people commit their best efforts not because of who we are, but because of what we stand for and what we hope to achieve.

As such, the idea that people should simply support their leader for the purposes of creating the illusion of collective harmony is not only troublesome in terms of ensuring accountability amongst those in charge, but it also diminishes the underlying motivational drive that compels people to commit their best selves to the work they do.

It also reveals an important question Click here to continue reading »”How Would You Answer This Question About Your Leadership?”

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”

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