Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

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”

A Lesson On How Successful People Achieve Their Goals

A simple exercise from Warren Buffett reveals a powerful lesson on how leaders can help their employees to successfully achieve their goals.

For many of us, the month of September presents the perfect opportunity to look back on the goals we set out for ourselves earlier this year and to assess how well we are doing in achieving those goals and more specifically, what should we be doing from this point forward to ensure that we successfully attain them.

But if we truly want to feel successful in what we do, there’s another question we should be asking ourselves: are we focusing on those goals that really matter? Are we putting our best efforts and initiatives towards measures that will help us to live the life we were meant to live?

To help illustrate what I mean by this, I’d like to share this story about a conversation between Warren Buffett – one of the most successful people in the world today – and his pilot, and how a simple exercise helped his employee to appreciate how to focus on what matters.

For 10 years, Mike Flint had served as the personal airplane pilot for Warren Buffett. One day Buffett goes up to his pilot and tells him “the fact that you’re still working for me tells me I’m not doing my job. You should be out there going after more of your goals and dreams”.

So Buffett asked Mike to write down a list of the 25 goals Mike wanted to accomplish over the course of his career, whether it be something Mike wanted to do in the next few years or sometime down the road.

After Mike created his list, Buffett then asked Mike to review his list of 25 goals and to circle the top 5 most important goals; the things that more than anything Mike wanted to know he’d achieve in his lifetime.

Not surprisingly, Mike admitted to Buffett that this was hard to do because he really wanted to achieve all of these 25 goals he’d written out in his list. But Buffett was adamant that Mike draw a circle around what he would consider to be his 5 most important goals from this list of 25 goals, and to write these down in a new list of his 5 most important goals.

So after much time and effort, Mike was able to pick out 5 goals from his original list and he found himself looking at two different lists – one that had what he chose as his 5 most important goals and another one which had the other 20 goals that Mike wanted to achieve.

At this point, Mike understood that he should start working on achieving those 5 goals in his important goal list and he told Buffett that he would start working on those right away.

Buffett then asked Mike about his second list with those 20 other goals and asked him what was he going to do about those goals.

Mike told Buffett that while they are not on his most important list of goals, they were things he still wanted to achieve and so he planned on working on those other goals when he had the time to do so. As Mike told Buffett, “they are not as urgent, but I still plan to give them a dedicated effort”.

Buffett then gave Mike a stern look and told him that he got it wrong. He went on to tell Mike how Click here to continue reading »”A Lesson On How Successful People Achieve Their Goals”

What It Takes To Overcome Distractions In The Workplace

A lesson from Olympic rowers reveals a powerful message for leaders on how they can help their employees to overcome workplace distractions.

As the final week of the summer period slowly comes to an end, I have to admit to feeling a mix bag of emotions. As much I as enjoy summer and all the activities and beautiful weather it brings, I’m looking forward to returning to a more regular routine both at work and at home.

After all, given the blue skies seen outside the office window and the ease with which family activities can be planned with children being on summer vacation break, the summer months do present quite a number of distractions that can impede one’s productivity and drive to push ahead.

Of course, in today’s modern, digital workspace, there are far more and at times, far greater distractions than the sight of a sunny blue sky outside your window.

In most cases, when it comes to things that impact the overall productivity of employees, the common tendency is to view meetings and emails as the biggest impediments.

And yet, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey of over 2 000 managers, the biggest distractions employees face in today’s workplaces are text messaging/using their smartphones, followed by surfing the web.

And the impact of these distractions on workplace productivity is quite significant, as 75% of employers state that their organizations lose two or more hours of productivity every day because their employees are distracted.

To make matters worse, the leaders surveyed in this study noted that this loss in productivity leads to a compromised quality of work, missed deadlines, and even negative repercussions in employer-employee relationships and as well customer relationships.

Now the typical response in light of such findings is to limit the usage of smartphones at work or to restrict access to what sites employees can surf while on the job.

While this might solve the issue of employees using their smartphones and the internet for non-work related matters, it overlooks the underlying issue behind these behaviours and what leaders should really be doing to help their employees develop the means to overcome the distractions they’ll inevitably face while at work.

And as with most things in life, the best way for us to appreciate what we should be doing is by looking at the lessons learned by others about what it takes to succeed in the face of various obstacles. Click here to continue reading »”What It Takes To Overcome Distractions In The Workplace”

4 Leadership Lessons We Can Learn From The Olympics

4 valuable lessons we can take from the Olympics for how we can inspire our employees to bring their best efforts to the work they do.

With the latest edition of the Summer Olympic Games now well under way in Rio, there is naturally much interest in the outcomes of various sporting events. Within the leadership and management field, there is also much interest in discovering insights that can help us to better understand how to inspire the best in our employees.

Of course, the typical focus on lessons we can learn from the Olympics tend to be on teamwork, communication, building confidence and the like.

But for this piece, I’d like to take a more broader view, using the microcosm the Olympic Games provide to examine what drives or motivates us to push ourselves to succeed. To that end, here are 4 key lessons leaders can learn from the Olympics on how to ignite their employees’ drive to bring their best selves to the work they do.

1. Success is important, but so is creating meaning and a sense of belonging
I have to admit that what sparked my interest in writing this piece was the story of the Canadian women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team and in particular, the events that transpired after their qualifying heat on Saturday morning.

Hours before the final swim, the decision was made that Michelle Williams, who had swam in the morning relay team heat, would be replaced by her team mate Penny Oleksiak to swim in the final that night.

Reports then came out about how the news had not only hit Michelle hard, but that her entire team was deeply upset by the change in the lineup. Although this is a commonly used tactic in this sport to maximize a team’s chances of winning a medal, for this group of first-time Olympians, it still felt like a betrayal for the hard word Michelle had given to get the team to the final.

Seeing how hard they were taking the news, the coach got his team together and told them that it didn’t matter who was swimming in the final that night because this was a team effort.

He reminded his team members that each of them played a key role in getting them to the Olympics and to now potentially winning a medal for their country. The coach then told them that what matters here is not who crosses the finish line, but how we work together to make that happen.

When the swimming finals came up that evening, the negative emotions these athletes had been feeling hours earlier were clearly replaced with a steely determination to deliver their best.

And deliver their best they did as this swimming team went on to win the Bronze medal, the first medal for Canada at the Rio Olympic Games and the first medal Canada has won in this particular swimming event since 1976.

Now while this story has that Hollywood-style ending that makes the Olympic Games so much fun to watch, the real message here is Click here to continue reading »”4 Leadership Lessons We Can Learn From The Olympics”

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”

« Older Entries