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”

One Question Every Leader Should Inspire In Those They Lead

A look at the challenges two leaders faced and what it reveals about the power of relationships to bring out best in those we lead.

One of the common themes I’ve written about over the past few years is the importance of building and nurturing relationships with your employees in order to bring out the best in those under your care. While we can appreciate what this means in abstract terms, I’d like to share the recent experiences of two leaders that helps to illustrate the benefit in bringing this approach to your leadership.

The first story I’d like to share comes from the high school where I serve as Chairman of the Governing Board. This past academic year has been an especially difficult one for this school community. For starters, the school was dealt with major cuts to its operating budget as well as to its staff which, taken together, had a drastic and noticeable impact on the school’s daily functions.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the school year began with the teachers stopping all extracurricular activities in order to protest the government’s unwillingness to address teachers’ needs in the classroom. So to say this year was a challenging one for the school would be an understatement.

Earlier this month, our principal made the announcement that she was going to take a sabbatical next year to give herself time to regroup so she could continue to give her best to the school and its students. When she shared the news with her teachers and staff, she expected people to be discouraged and even frustrated given all they’ve been through this past school year.

What she got instead was a unified, impromptu response from her team. A response that had her fielding questions from her staff about what they could do to keep things running in her absence and how to help her transition back when she returns.

In my conversation with her about her decision to take a leave of absence next year, she admitted that one of the reasons why she felt good about giving herself this time was because of the overwhelming support she received from her staff to mind the store until she returns.

The other story I’d like to share is that of my friend Rob* who I met through a collaboration with my leadership firm. For the past 15 years, Rob served as the Click here to continue reading »”One Question Every Leader Should Inspire In Those They Lead”

7 Ways Leaders Can Empower Their Employees To Succeed

7 ways that leaders can empower their employees to bring their best selves to work to drive organizational success and growth.

Of the many, many things that today’s leaders are expected to do, one of the most sought-after abilities in a leader is someone who can motivate and support those around them to bring their best selves to the work they do.

Indeed, thanks to the transition from managing task workers to leading knowledge workers, being able to tap into the collective insights, experiences, and talents of those you lead has become a critical factor to determining an organization’s capacity to adapt and respond to the changing needs of today’s global market.

Over the years, I’ve been asked to participate in several leadership series in sharing my insights on how leaders can help their employees to succeed, whether the focus was on improving communication, driving productivity, increasing employee engagement, and the like.

While I’ve shared these bite-sized leadership insights elsewhere, I thought it’d be fun to share some of those ideas here on my blog. To that end, here are eight things every leader can do to help inspire and empower their employees to bring their full selves to work, and thereby encourage and support their ability to succeed and grow.

1. Listen, listen and then listen some more to what your employees have to say
Today’s world is moving faster each day, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be making time to listen to the concerns and issues our employees face. Making time in your day to ‘walk the floor’ and listen to what your employees have to say will not only keep you in the loop about potential problems that might be on the horizon, but it will also demonstrate to your employees that you care about the conditions they have to deal with.

It’s also worth noting here that the goal here is not to simply act on what others are telling you. Rather, the goal of listening in leadership is to help the other person feel heard and understood [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]; that you want to better understand their reality and the challenges they face and how it might impact their ability to succeed in achieving the goals you’ve given them to attain.

It’s also a great way to ensure that you’re not simply focusing on the things that matter to you, but are taking into account the needs of those under your care.

2. Remember the job of a leader is to help your team to succeed
When it comes to leadership, it’s easy to think that being in charge means that you basically get to tell people what to do. While you can certainly do that, there’s no question that you and your employees won’t get very far as most of us don’t like to be micromanaged in how we do our jobs.

Although leadership does draw an air of respect, the truth is that over the long run, people are looking at you not because of your title, but because they want Click here to continue reading »”7 Ways Leaders Can Empower Their Employees To Succeed”

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?”

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