TanveerNaseer.com

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

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?”

Where Do We Go Next After We Succeed?

Secret to enduring success in leadership

So you achieved that long sought-after success at work – great! Everyone is cheering you on, applauding your success while you enjoy your time in the limelight.

But as time moves on, your colleagues start to focus on other matters and that success that garnered you all those accolades and praise slowly dims, leaving you with one uncomfortable and glaring question – what do I do now?

It’s the part of process of achieving success that we don’t often talk about, mostly because the focus tends to be on how we can be successful without any real honest examination of what do we do when we actually achieve it.

Understandably, part of the reason for that is that success – especially when it’s a public or life-changing moment – is often seen as being the pinnacle of our journey, leaving us with no where to go but down.

A great example of that is when actors win an Academy Award in the early stages of their career. Although life-changing, it also seems to limit their future successes, as many of them go off to make films that are not as critically acclaimed or commercially successful as the one that won them the Oscar. Given their limited body of work, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that many of them went from being seen as rising stars to potential has-beens.

Fortunately, for most of us, our successes are not as character or career-defining, but that doesn’t necessarily free us from the expectations those around us might have about what we will do next or what achievement we will next attain.

It’s an idea that came to mind after seeing the overwhelming response to the piece I wrote last week about the power of expectations.

As a writer, you’re not always sure what ideas or insights will resonate the most with your readers. So when you see a piece of yours getting the attention like my last piece did – where it not only became the headline article for the Wednesday edition of SmartBrief on Leadership, but it was also featured in numerous other industry newsletters and leadership blogs – it’s hard not to feel like you succeeded in capturing lightning in a bottle.

Of course, as was the case with past articles I wrote which also captured the interest of so many and lead to dozens of new blog subscribers and new readers, it also gave rise to thoughts about how do we match that success. And even how can we surpass it.

There’s no question that this line of thought can leave you facing a daunting dilemma, if not a crisis of Click here to continue reading »”Where Do We Go Next After We Succeed?”

Are You Helping Your Employees To Reach Their Potential?

Using-Leadership-To-See-Potential-In-Employees

When it comes to my role serving as the Governing Board Chairman at my daughters’ high school, one aspect of this leadership role that I enjoy the most is being invited to school events that celebrate the achievements of our students.

After all, when you spend much of your time discussing school budget issues, funding projects, approving various school policies and the like, having the opportunity to talk with students to learn about their accomplishments really helps to provide a context for the collective efforts of my team.

The most recent student celebratory event was particularly noteworthy as the focus was not on the best and brightest students in our school community. Instead, it was on students participating in a work-study program designed for students at-risk of dropping out or who suffer from intellectual disabilities.

The goal of this school-based program is simple – to provide these students with both a knowledge base and hands-on experience that will allow them to join the workforce at the end of the three year program. As these students are not the high achievers who win academic or athletic awards, they typically tend to get overlooked by others because there’s no rising star to be found among them.

And yet, a conversation I had with one of these students not only challenged that notion, but it helped to reveal a very important lesson that every leader today can benefit from. A lesson on how we can bring out the best in every employee under our care.

Before joining this work-study program, Malik was one of several students at-risk of dropping out of school, not just because he struggled to keep up with the school work, but also because he was extremely disorganized. As he told me when sharing his story, he had a hard time with the regular school work load because he couldn’t keep track of the various assignments he had to do.

It was at this point that Malik directed my focus to this binder he had on the table. As he revealed the contents inside his binder, he told me about how this program had helped him to become more organized, not just in how he managed his homework, but also in how he maintained his work station.

Most interestingly, Malik admitted that his newfound ability to be more organized has spilled into his family life as well in that he not only keeps his room clean, but he also makes his bed every morning, something his parents had never imagined he’d do.

Granted, this kind of effort would hardly be considered noteworthy or exceptional for most of us. But the point to here is not what Malik and his classmates accomplished. Rather, what Malik’s story reveals is the importance of helping those we lead to discover their potential to do more, to be more than they are today.

In the case of Malik and his fellow classmates, what helped drive their transformation to feeling like what they do matters and is important was Click here to continue reading »”Are You Helping Your Employees To Reach Their Potential?”

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