Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

4 Steps To Becoming More Inquisitive As Leaders

Learn about 4 steps any leader can take to help them become inquisitive in order to bring out the best from those they lead.

In my previous piece, where I shared the story of how a past leadership failure helped me to learn to become a better listener, I pointed out that one of the keys to effective leadership is learning to be more inquisitive.

Now the importance of inquisitiveness in today’s leadership is fairly obvious considering how much faster we have to operate and make decisions, if not also how quickly things can change.

That’s where we gain the benefits from being more inquisitive, and not just in gaining clarity regarding the challenges and opportunities before us, but also in how this simple conversation tool helps to nurture and strengthen relationships with those we lead.

So how do we become more inquisitive in our leadership? Here are 4 steps to help you get started:

1. Ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes/no response
If there’s one thing leaders everywhere share in common it’s working within an environment where they face increasing demands on their time and attention, while at the same being expected to make decisions as quickly as possible.

Taken together, these factors create conditions where it’s easy for leaders to resort to asking questions that require only a yes/no answer. While these answers can help us act quickly, the problem is that they lack context or insights that can help us make more effective decisions and choices going forward.

Asking open-ended questions – like asking ‘what did our customer say?’ instead of ‘is our customer happy?’ – not only provides greater context, but it encourages a genuine engagement with those we lead, over interactions that are merely transactional in nature.

After all, the questions we ask shape not only our conversations, but the relationships we have with others [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

2. Be curious to find out what others know
While inquisitiveness is something we need to work at – especially in light of Click here to continue reading »”4 Steps To Becoming More Inquisitive As Leaders”

How Failure Taught Me To Become A Better Listener

The story of one leader's failure reveals a powerful lesson on the importance of effective listening to leadership success.

In my work with various leaders, one of the strategies I often share is employing the art of asking questions. While asking questions can help a leader gain a better understanding of current conditions both within and outside their organization, it can also prove to be a helpful tool in gaining insight from one’s own experiences.

It’s an idea I was recently reminded of during an interview I did with my friend and fellow leadership expert Kevin Kruse for his leadership podcast, The LEADx Leadership Show. During the interview, Kevin asked me to share with his audience a story of when I failed as a leader and what I learned from that experience.

Now while the focus of Kevin’s question was to showcase how as leaders we can learn from past mistakes, I realized that there’s also within this story a powerful lesson on what it really means to be a good listener, especially when you have the responsibility to lead others.

In one of my first management roles, I had the responsibility of overseeing the functioning of several laboratories in a biotech firm, along with managing the cleaning staff. As the cleaning staff didn’t come from a science background as I did, I wanted to help them understand the work that was being done and how their efforts helped with these ongoing projects.

One day, one of the senior directors – who at the time was also one of my mentors – called me into his office for a quick chat. After exchanging a few updates, the director told me that he had received a few complaints from some members of the cleaning staff (before I joined the company, the cleaning staff had worked under this director).

I figured this probably had to do with some new demand being put upon my team by one of the project leaders. So I already started plotting in my mind where I could find time to sit down with the cleaning staff to explain these new requests.

As it turned out, the complaint wasn’t about some new demand. Instead, the complaint was about me. Specifically, the cleaning staff had become disgruntled over how I was speaking with them.

The director went on to explain how the cleaning staff initially enjoyed working under me, but lately, I left them feeling as though their only job was to do my bidding.

As hard as it was to hear, I began to realize that in my drive to inform my employees, I had unintentionally turned our conversations into one-way interactions. Put simply, I had become the dreaded micromanager interested more in telling people what to do than in listening to what they had to say.

While my story illustrates the ease with which any of us can become disempowering micromanagers, I realized it also revealed the importance of why leaders need to be good listeners if we are to ultimately succeed in our efforts..

Namely, that to effectively lead others, we need more than our perspective. We need insights from those we lead [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

In that conversation with this director, I realized that Click here to continue reading »”How Failure Taught Me To Become A Better Listener”

A Prescription For Empowering Employees To Succeed And Grow

A summer job experience reveals a powerful and important lesson for today's leaders on how to not only inspire employees, but empowering them to succeed.

Last month, my oldest daughter Alya began working at her new summer job and now that she’s worked for two different companies over the past two summer periods, it’s been interesting to hear her observations about the differences in how her bosses manage their employees.

These conversations with my daughter about her work has lead to recollections of my summer job experiences, and how one in particular has helped to shape my understandings of leadership and empowering employees.

When I was 18 years old, my uncle got me a job working in the warehouse of a pharmaceutical dispensary near his house in the Toronto suburbs. I was excited and nervous about taking on the job; excited because the pay was really good, but nervous because it meant giving up spending any time with my friends back in Montreal.

My boss, Mr. Hainsworth – the owner of this and another pharmaceutical dispensary in Southern Ontario – was what many people would call a straight shooter; you always knew where you stood with him so if he had a problem with something you did, he’d be sure to let you know.

For the first weeks on the job, I have to admit that being a teenager, I was a bit intimidated by his gruff exterior, even though many of his employees reassured me that he’s actually the sweetest man you’d ever know.

My job was pretty straightforward – I worked for the warehouse supervisor making sure the dispensary shelves were properly stocked, putting in orders to resupply our drug inventory, and basically managing the warehouse on the supervisor’s days off and when he took his summer vacation break.

The hardest part of the job was that the warehouse was located in the windowless basement of the medical office building, which is why I welcomed any chance to go upstairs to the dispensary in order to catch a glimpse of the summer blue sky.

On one of the warehouse supervisor’s days off, I decided to review our current inventory against upcoming renewal orders and I found that we had on our shelves a box full of medication that had expired a month ago. Given the large quantity of prescription vials, I decided to go see Mr. Hainsworth to ask him how do I go about disposing the expired medication.

After I explained the situation, Mr. Hainsworth paused from looking at his computer screen and looked at me. Instead of answering my question, he asked Click here to continue reading »”A Prescription For Empowering Employees To Succeed And Grow”

2 Techniques That Transform Leadership Communication

Transforming-leadership-communication

The following is a guest piece by Dr. Alan Zimmerman.

It was the most memorable line in the movie Cool Hand Luke. When the prisoners wouldn’t listen, the prison guard uttered that ominous line: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

In a similar sense, almost every employee survey complains about a “lack of communication.” Perhaps you work in one of those places.

The good news is: there are two communication makeups that can fix that. One that deals with the quantity of your communication. The other addresses the quality of your communication.

Makeup #1: DNDT Increases The Quantity Of Your Communication

As I speak to various corporate groups, one of the most frequent complaints I hear is “We’re so busy we don’t have time to talk to each other. We’re so focused on our own individual silos that we don’t really know what the other people in our company are doing.”

If that sounds like you, it’s time to implement DNDT or Do Not Disturb Times. Follow these guidelines. Click here to continue reading »”2 Techniques That Transform Leadership Communication”

How Leaders Promote Collaborative Environment

Promoting-collaboration-through-leadership

When it comes to thriving in today’s fast-changing, interconnected global economy, one of the attributes of organizational success that often comes up is ensuring that we promote greater collaboration among the various teams and departments within our workplace.

Indeed, the ability to foster collaboration in your organization has become a critical leadership competency as technological, process-driven differentiators give way to people-centric ones in today’s knowledge-based global economy.

Unfortunately, while leaders may state that they want to engender a more collaborative environment in their organization, they don’t realize how often own actions are actually serving to stifle collaboration, promote the growth of silos, and ultimately hindering their organization’s ability to innovate or incur any real forward momentum.

Time and time again, I’ve met with leaders who are eager to champion collaboration among their different teams and departments, but who unknowingly create or reinforce barriers that prevent their employees from challenging their assumptions or beliefs of how things can be done.

Although in some cases, the actions and behaviours are specific to a particular situation, there are nonetheless some common missteps these leaders share which have only served to impede collaboration among their employees.

To address and prevent these common mistakes from happening in your organization, I’d like to share the following four measures that leaders should take to ensure that they’re creating an environment where employees are compelled to dedicate their discretionary efforts to the shared purpose of their organization.

1. Define at the start what to expect from one another
At the start of any new initiative – whether it’s the development of a new product or service line, a change initiative to improve things, or coming up with an action plan to address a current crisis, there’s the natural and understandable tendency for all involved parties to Click here to continue reading »”How Leaders Promote Collaborative Environment”

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