Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Why Leaders Should Depersonalize Communication

Researchers have found leaders are more effective in how they communicate when they depersonalize the message. Learn what this means and how to do it.

The following is a guest piece by Dr. Derek Roger and Nick Petrie.

It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it

Talking comes so naturally to us we tend to forget just how much skill is involved. Even when we’re speaking fast, every word is selected as the appropriate one, from a huge collection we have stored in our brains. We weren’t born with language; all the words, and the rules governing them, had to be learned.

Spoken language, together with the gestures to go with what we’re saying, are what constitutes communication. It is at the heart of what it means to be human, but it all goes wrong when we’re less selective about when, how and what we communicate.

Let’s use a simple illustrative example, from the world of work: you’ve just completed a short proposal for a contract, a task you haven’t done before, and your boss is reading through it. How does she respond? The reply you’re likely to dread, especially if this all takes place in front of your colleagues, is along the lines of “You’ve done a pretty bad job of this. Didn’t they teach you anything at college?”

Unfortunately, feedback to direct reports often carries this kind of blaming tone, and it is hardly surprising that so many engagement surveys highlight the negative effects of poor communication. One solution is to provide communication skills training, but the negative ratings often persist.

The reason is that the principles of conventional communication skills programs may be quite ambiguous. Eye-contact is an example: the rule is that you should maintain eye-contact for a certain percentage of the time, to indicate continued interest, but if it’s maintained for too long the conversation starts to feel like an interrogation!

On the other hand, if you’re conveying complex information, people might break eye-contact because they’re reflecting on what you’ve said, not because they aren’t attending.

Listen, just wake up!

So what can be done to improve communication skills? Click here to continue reading »”Why Leaders Should Depersonalize Communication”

How To Successfully Achieve Your Goals This Year

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Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of being invited to be the in-studio guest expert on CBC Radio to discuss why people have a hard time keeping their New Year’s Resolutions and what we should be doing to be successful in achieving our goals.

Over the course of the hour-long show, the show’s host invited callers from across Montreal to call in to share their experiences in making New Year’s Resolutions after which he asked me to share my insights on how people can succeed at achieving their goals over the next 12 months.

Although the focus of the program was on New Year’s Resolutions, I realized that some of the insights I discussed on this show are also valuable for leaders who want to make sure they are providing the right conditions for their employees to be successful in their collective efforts.

And so with 2016 now well under way, I’d like to share the following 3 key strategies that will help you cross the finish line in achieving those goals you’ve mapped out for your organization to attain this year.

1. Direct your focus towards goals that matter
In much of my work with leaders in both Canada and the US, one issue that repeatedly comes up is the struggle with busyness – of feeling like the work we’re doing is simply for the sake of getting things off our plate so we can move onto the next thing demanding our attention, as opposed to doing work that helps move our organization forward in achieving our shared vision.

Indeed, there’s been a number of studies that have pointed out how today’s leaders are operating from an increasingly distracted state – where their focus is often taken away from what matters most to their organization’s shared purpose due to the increasing pull they face on their time, attention and resources.

As such, while many of us are understandably feeling as though our workloads continue to increase year after year, the kind of work we do every day is becoming more and more disconnected from what inspires us to show up and deliver our best efforts to the cause.

That’s why when it comes to defining goals for those you lead, you need to answer the question – why does it matter? [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter] Why should your employees dedicate their talents, creativity, and efforts to making this goal a reality? And where will it lead your organization once you’ve achieved it? Click here to continue reading »”How To Successfully Achieve Your Goals This Year”

Are You Inspiring Those You Lead To Be Extraordinary?

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As a writer, one of the things that I enjoy discussing and sharing are stories. After all, a great story can entertain, inform, and inspire us, and sometimes even shape our understanding of how we can make a real difference in the world around us.

It’s in that vein that I wanted to share a story with you about a volunteer firefighter and what we can learn from it about how leaders can help their employees to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, and maybe even that they are a part of something extraordinary.

In addition to his role as one of the senior vice-presidents of a non-profit organization, Mark also serves as the assistant captain for the volunteer fire company in his town. Now while this voluntary role certainly sounds exciting, Mark is the first to admit that for the most part, his role is pretty much to offer any support the professional firefighters might need.

One night, Mark gets the call that there’s a house on fire nearby and he rushes to the scene to offer assistance, expecting to pretty much stand on the sidelines while the firefighters go to work. As it turns out, Mark was one of the first volunteer firefighters on the scene and the firefighters were still working to put out the fire, so there was still plenty to do.

Realizing that he had a chance to put his training to work, Mark looked around for the fire chief to offer his help. He soon spotted the fire chief holding an umbrella for an old lady who was standing barefoot in her pyjamas in the pouring rain – clearly this was the owner of the home the firefighters were working to save.

Just as Mark reached the fire chief, another volunteer firefighter had presented himself to the fire chief asking if there was anything he could do. The fire chief told this volunteer firefighter to go into the burning house to save the homeowner’s dog. When Mark heard this, he became excited thinking how he could now participate in helping to fight a blaze and so, he asked the fire chief what he could do to help.

The fire chief looked at Mark and said, ‘Mark, I need you to go into that house and retrieve this lady a pair of shoes.’

Clearly, this was not what Mark had expected after hearing what the other volunteer firefighter got assigned to do. But he was still happy to be able to lend a hand and to do something other than standing by on the sidelines.

Unfortunately for Mark, any excitement he had for this task soon disappeared because just as he was leaving the house carrying the pair of shoes he got for the homeowner, the other volunteer firefighter came out carrying the old lady’s rescued dog in his arms. Within moments, there was an eruption of cheers and applause as the old lady was reunited with her beloved pet.

Although Mark’s efforts were not met with as much enthusiasm by the onlookers, he still made sure that the old lady was comfortable with the shoes he got for her before he headed off to see how else he could be of help.

Naturally, Mark didn’t give this encounter much thought, that is until a few weeks later when he received a letter from the fire chief. In it, he included a copy of a letter the old lady had written thanking the firefighters for helping to save her home. The old lady also wanted to let them know how grateful she was that in her time of need, one of them had been so thoughtful and attentive as to get her a pair of shoes from her burning home.

Now one of the reasons why I love sharing Mark’s story is because it reminds us of Click here to continue reading »”Are You Inspiring Those You Lead To Be Extraordinary?”

Did We Succeed This Year In Putting Our Employees First?

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At the beginning of this year, I wrote a piece where I asked a simple question – will this be the year that we put our employees first? The question was inspired by the findings of a recent study that found that for leaders across the globe, the top challenge they faced was how to engage, retain, and develop employees under their care.

With the year now coming to an end, I thought I’d circle back to this question, and look at what I saw and experienced through my work with various executives, managers, and others in leadership positions to see if we did in fact address this concern facing so many of today’s organizations.

To start things on a good note, I did see leaders this year who clearly understood not only how to engage and motivate their employees, but also how to manage conflict in today’s faster-paced, connected world, how to foster an environment where our employees succeed and thrive, as well as how we can use our leadership to bring out the best in those under our care.

Unfortunately, I also saw leaders who tried to side-step any responsibility for the issues that currently plague their organization, with some even arguing how the problem was the fault of those their organization serves, and not a reflection of their leadership or contributions.

Even worse were those leaders I observed who told their employees of their personal commitment to the shared purpose that drove their collective efforts, only to turn around and abandon that personal commitment because things got ‘too complicated’, or because they were simply too busy to care about the impact their actions had on their leadership and with it, their credibility.

Now to be clear here – these aren’t bad people. But they are bad leaders. These are individuals who either lack the competencies to be an effective leader in today’s workplaces, or they are simply unwilling to take the initiative to truly understand the realities of those under their care. In both cases, there can be little doubt that they failed to Click here to continue reading »”Did We Succeed This Year In Putting Our Employees First?”

The 3 Questions Leaders Must Ask And Answer

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The following is a guest piece by Scott Eblin.

During the past six of the fourteen years I’ve been an executive coach and leadership educator, my observation is that my clients are generally more stressed each year than they were the year before. The feeling of being overworked and overwhelmed has gone up year over year. One of the ways I know this is by asking a few questions at the beginning of most of my presentations.

Let’s say we have a roomful of 100 corporate executives and managers. The first question I ask is “How many of you have been promoted in the past year?” Usually around 20 or 30 percent of the audience members raise a hand. The next question is “How many of you are in the same job you were in a year ago but the scope is much bigger today?” That question brings a lot more raised hands – usually at least 80 percent of the audience.

Then I ask, “How many of you are in the same job you were in a year ago, but the performance bar has risen significantly in the past 12 months?” That’s usually about 100 percent of the hands. Finally, I ask, “How many of you are operating in a constantly changing competitive environment?” That is most definitely 100 percent of the hands.

If you’re doing the math at home, you recognize that most people are raising their hands at least twice, maybe three times or even four. So, it’s sort of obvious why they feel overworked and overwhelmed.

Beginning with the Financial Crisis of 2008, most organizations have adopted a Click here to continue reading »”The 3 Questions Leaders Must Ask And Answer”

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