Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Forget Passion – What Employees Need Is Purpose-Led Work

Discover why it takes more than passion to inspire the very best in our employees and how the key is providing purpose-led work.

These days, it seems like the world is facing scarcity in a wide range of areas – from something as basic as access to food and clean water, to something more personal as a lack of time to get through our various daily tasks.

But if there’s one area where there’s no concerns about scarcity these days it’s passion. Whether it’s discussions about politics, social issues, or even the latest movies or TV shows, there’s no doubt that there’s a lot of passion – and debate – to be found in these conversations.

While these forms of passion can become problematic at times, in general, we tend to view people being passionate about something to be a good thing. And no doubt this is why there persists this misguided notion that the key to success is to ‘figure out what you’re passionate about and build a life doing that’.

Don’t get me wrong – passion is a great motivator. But the catch is that its ability to motivate us only works over the short term. When it comes to running the long game, passion sadly comes up short.

That’s why many leaders run into trouble when they try to improve employee morale by encouraging employees to be passionate about their work. While we might gain an uptick in productivity, the truth is that passion alone is not enough to keep that internal drive going over the long run.

What we’re missing is the other half of the equation – that while passion might get our employees energized and excited about what we can create through our collective efforts, what we need to keep our employees invested in our organizational vision is creating purpose-led work.

Thankfully, a majority of leaders are beginning to understand this as a recent survey done by EY Beacon and Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found that more than 80% of executives said purpose-led work leads to greater levels of employee satisfaction and customer loyalty, not to mention improving an organization’s ability to transform.

That’s why it’s important to recognize that passion without purpose is a lost opportunity for us to do something that’s meaningful and enduring [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

Granted, when we start talking about creating purpose-led work, this can lead to some hesitation on the part of leaders and their organizations because of the misplaced notion that purposeful work has to be glamorous or exciting.

The truth, however, is that Click here to continue reading »”Forget Passion – What Employees Need Is Purpose-Led Work”

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”

3 Storytelling Elements That Successfully Drive Change

3 powerful lessons leaders can learn from storytelling that will help them to effectively drive change in their organization.

Leaders face an ever-growing number of challenges leading their organization in today’s faster-paced, increasingly interconnected world. One of the more common issues a leader has to address is dealing with change.

In most cases, when we talk about change, the focus is often on the process – of what steps we need to implement to ensure we achieve a successful outcome. And yet, what we fail to take into consideration is how using the power of storytelling can help us to ignite effective and sustainable change within our organization.

To illustrate what I mean, allow me to share this story of Mary, a fellow team leader who I worked with a few years ago.

At one of our weekly team leader meetings, Mary talked about a plan she had shared with the organization’s senior leadership about a new change initiative. As Mary described the details of her proposal, she pointed out the various benefits it would create for the organization in the upcoming years.

It was clear to everyone around the table that Mary had not only done her homework in conceptualizing this change initiative, but that she was also very passionate about her proposal.

Now, normally, when someone proposes any kind of change initiative, people tend to fall into one of three groups – one group that almost immediately loves the idea, another group that takes a more guarded wait-and-see stance, and the final group that actively resists it either because they don’t agree or because they’re concerned about what unexpected issues this change will give rise to.

But as I looked around at the various team leaders, I didn’t see supporters, naysayers, or those taking a more neutral, cautious stance. Instead, what I saw was a complete lack of interest in Mary’s proposal, something that became all the more apparent when Mary asked if anyone had any questions and was met with vague shrugs and silence.

On the surface, Mary’s idea wasn’t overtly good or bad, so why did the other leaders around that conference table react to her change proposal with such indifference?

While we might think the issue is tied specifically to the technical aspects of her change initiative, a closer look at how Mary went about presenting her proposal demonstrates a failure to consider three fundamentals to effective storytelling and how these elements can be powerful devices for driving change in your organization.

1. Craft a simple, memorable message of what you’re trying to achieve
As a writer, I enjoy watching movies and TV shows that create complex storylines that slowly unravel and evolve as the story progresses. When it’s done right, it allows for both a deeper look inside a character’s motivations, as well as creating a more rich experience as the viewer delves further into this imaginary world.

Of course, the problem with complex storytelling is Click here to continue reading »”3 Storytelling Elements That Successfully Drive Change”

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”

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