Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

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”

Leading In The Face Of Adversity And Sorrow

A national tragedy shines a light on a powerful leadership message on how we can do better going forward after enduring the worst.

Illustration created by my daughter Zafina in response to the terrorist attack on a Quebec City mosque.

As many of my long-time readers know, I publish new articles on leadership here on my blog every Tuesday. Now I had a piece written up that I was in the process of editing for publication this week, but a recent attack in my home province has lead me to shelve that piece so that I can share something a little more personal, and hopefully inspiring for how we can do better going forward.

This past Sunday night, news broke out that a native Quebecer – emboldened by the rise in right-wing, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim sentiments across North America and Europe – walked into a Quebec City mosque and began shooting at the men, women, and children praying inside, killing 6 people and wounding 19 others. It’s the worst act of terrorism to ever happen in my country.

Within a mere 24 hours, I went from feeling hopeful optimism at seeing people around the world rally together in solidarity against the bigotry, fear-mongering, and hate exemplified by Trump’s Muslim ban – to outright horror, anger, and sadness at how one of my fellow Quebecers could think it was acceptable to destroy the lives of innocent families simply because he has a problem with their faith.

As I write this, my emotions are still raw, my heart heavy and aching, and tears well up when I look at my daughters and imagine what kind of world will await them. Make no mistake, my province does have issues with racism, Islamophobia, and antisemitism. But I never imagined that this kind of hate would find expression in the form of a terrorist attack so close to home.

As I sat here trying to prepare my latest leadership piece for publication, I realized that I couldn’t simply act as though nothing happened because something did happen. Something that will now forever change who we are as Quebecers, and how we must go about seeing and understanding ourselves going forward.

Of course, whenever an event arises that shatters our perceptions of our community and country, there is an understandable need to try and make sense of it; to understand how such a horrific act of terrorism could happen where we live, and what good, if any, we can find in this darkness that’s fallen upon us.

And so, I wanted to address this tragedy from the point of leadership – of what do we do when faced with adversity and sorrow, not from failing to land a new client, but when tragedy strikes that affects those we lead at their very core.

To date, I’ve been genuinely impressed and touched by the actions of politicians at all levels here – from the mayor of Quebec City and our Quebec Premier, all the way to our Prime Minister and the leaders of our federal opposition parties. Each of them recognized the importance of not only expressing solidarity and inclusion in the face of terrorism and unbridled hatred towards Muslims, but of reaching out to the Muslim community to let them know you’re not alone and you’re one of us.

It’s a powerful message, not simply because it reasserts the values of Quebec and Canada – those of championing multiculturalism, a shared identity, and our collective and individual freedoms – but it also sends a much needed message to the Muslim community, a minority group that’s a regular victim of stigmatization and vilification. The message: you belong here and you matter.

The simplicity of this message reveals an important point that leaders everywhere need to recognize: Click here to continue reading »”Leading In The Face Of Adversity And Sorrow”

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?”

A Year-End Note Of Inspiration To Keep Pushing Ahead

An end-of-year note to inspire leaders to challenge their outlook for how they will empower the best in those they lead.

With the end of one year and the beginning of a new one now upon us, the typical response for many of us is to reflect on what’s transpired over these past 12 months, while at the same time looking ahead in anticipation of what’s to come in the new year.

In the case of 2016, there seems to be a common consensus that this was a particularly bad year which many are glad to see come to an end. For some, this sentiment is borne from the loss of certain musicians, actors, and artists over the past 12 months, while for others, this feeling stems from the results of various political elections and referendums held around the world.

Of course, what is interesting about these negative impressions regarding this year is that the outcomes that many use to define 2016 as being a particularly ‘bad year’ have yet to be felt. It’s only in the months ahead that we’ll appreciate how there won’t be any new performances or new creative works from the musicians, actors and other creative types who passed away in 2016.

And while the voting process for Brexit and the US presidential election was held this year, the real consequences and impact of those choices won’t be truly felt or understood until well into 2017 and beyond. In other words, the ending of 2016 marks only the beginning for the UK and the US – along with the rest of the world – as to what their choices will give rise to in terms of what the future will hold for their respective countries.

And yet, this hasn’t stopped many from looking at these events in isolation; as a reflection of what this year represents, as opposed to what they might give rise to in the months and years ahead.

This disparity between an event and its long-term repercussions provides an important reminder for leaders everywhere, of the difference between how we might see things in our organization and how our employees experience them.

Consider, for example, when your organization experiences a loss or failure like when your organization loses a key contract to a competitor despite your team’s efforts, or when a new product/service that’s been championed to be your organization’s next great accomplishment fails to deliver on that promise.

In those moments, it’s only natural that the prevailing mood in your organization will be gloomy – that your employees will feel discouraged, possibly even disillusioned because they believed in their potential to succeed.

It’s in these moments where our leadership is needed most – not simply to Click here to continue reading »”A Year-End Note Of Inspiration To Keep Pushing Ahead”

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