Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

4 Critical Leadership Traits That Drive Success And Growth

Learn about 4 critical leadership traits you need to have in order to motivate employees to help drive organizational success and growth.

This past summer, my daughter Malaika worked at her first summer job, which also happened to be her first time in a true leadership role. As one of two co-ordinators of her high school’s orientation camp, she was not only responsible for managing the various activities to help new students become more familiar with the school, but she was also in charge of overseeing the 24 camp mentors who were there to support the new students.

Although Malaika came home every day exhausted from a long, busy day, I couldn’t help but notice a transformation in how she recalled her experiences – where at the beginning of camp, she felt frustrated and a bit discouraged, but as the camp went on, she was more enthusiastic and excited about what had happened that day.

As she talked about her experiences being a leader for the first time, I realized that she had learned about 4 critical traits that we need to succeed at leadership; characteristics that are worth re-examining now that summer is over and many of us have a renewed focus to drive growth in our organization:

1. Take the initiative in asking others for feedback
One of the biggest concerns Malaika had early on was whether she was doing enough to support the 24 camp mentors under her care. Some times, she worried that she was speaking too much and other times, she wondered if she didn’t give her team enough insight or guidance on what to do.

To address her concerns, Malaika decided to speak to some of the camp mentors she didn’t know very well to get their impressions of how she was doing. As it turned out, the camp mentors were not only happy with the job that she was doing, but they appreciated that she wanted to know what they thought.

By being pro-active in seeking feedback from her team, Malaika sent a clear message to the camp mentors that she genuinely cared about their opinions and wanted to know if her efforts were as helpful as she thought they were.

And this effort reveals the first critical leadership trait: our ability to grow as leaders is dependent on our willingness to get feedback from those we lead [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

2. Don’t hesitate to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty
One of the reasons why Malaika often came home exhausted from her summer job was not only because she had many logistics and personnel to oversee, but she often found herself running around to lend a hand to one of the mentors, or cleaning up after an activity to allow the mentors to spend more time with their kids to foster those mentor-mentee relationships, or even just helping with getting kids in the different groups motivated to participate.

As Malaika told me about these different tasks she did over the course of the day, I asked her what compelled her to jump in – did the supervising teachers ask her to do it? She just replied matter-of-factly, “I just saw that there was something that needed to be done and so I did it”. Click here to continue reading »”4 Critical Leadership Traits That Drive Success And Growth”

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”

Let’s Not Confuse Hard Work With Meaningful Work

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The following is a guest piece by fellow author Dan Ward.

Like most authors, I get a lot of questions about my books. One question I struggle to answer is “Was the book hard to write?”

On the one hand, writing my books required considerable time and effort. Researching, drafting, editing, re-editing and then re-re-editing all involve a certain amount of mental exertion and can get taxing after a while. Plus, I was on active duty in the military while I wrote my first two books, so the only time I could carve out uninterrupted quiet time to write was at 5:00 am. Getting out of bed so many dark mornings in a row is nobody’s idea of easy.

On the other hand I enjoyed the experience so much that I hesitate to call it “hard.” In the wee hours before dawn the house is quiet, the coffee is hot, and I have the whole world to myself. I find the blank page inviting and exciting. I love the feeling of creative expression and I don’t even mind the editing process.

In fact, the hardest part most days was having to stop writing and go do other things. And of course habit makes things easier too. The 100th early morning was easier than the 1st or 2nd.

So if I’m pressed to answer the hard question, I must say Click here to continue reading »”Let’s Not Confuse Hard Work With Meaningful Work”

Why Vacations Are Critical For Successful Leadership

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With the welcome arrival of the warm summer months, many of us – myself included – are eagerly making final plans for our vacation break and with it, some much needed time for rest and relaxation.

Of course, taking any time off work these days can be quite challenging if not difficult for the very reasons why we need to take these much needed breaks from our everyday workday lives. Namely, the faster-paced, increasing demands on our time, energy, and finite resources that we all have to manage as members of the modern workforce.

These rising demands – not to mention how quickly things can change in the span of a few weeks – can make it very tempting for leaders to pull back on the amount of time they take off from work in order to keep a finger on their organization’s pulse.

While this might address our concerns (and fears) over the short-term, the reality is that it will have a far greater impact on our long-term success as a leader of our team or organization.

To that end, as I make preparations for my vacation break, I’d like to share the following benefits that taking a vacation has on our ability to be successful in our leadership.

1. Vacation breaks give us the opportunity for reflection and review
When I ask some of the leaders I’ve worked with what tasks they’d like to spend more of their workday on, more often than not one of the answers they give is spending more time on ‘big-picture thinking’; of putting their energies and focus on examining the realities and challenges their organization currently faces, and what opportunities this might present going forward.

Of course, this answer is not too surprising as many studies have shown that business leaders around the world would like to be able to spend more time on big-picture thinking.

The key challenge, however, is that thanks to today’s 24/7 wired world, leaders now face ever-growing demands on their time, energy, and attention, a situation that makes having time for pondering the longer view seem more like a luxury than a critical element for leading today’s organizations.

And yet, the reality of leadership today is that leaders need to provide context for what their employees’ efforts today will create for tomorrow [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]. That to keep their employees engaged and invested in what they contribute today requires an understanding of what this will lead them towards over the long run.

And this is where taking vacation time become so critical to our ability to succeed at leadership Click here to continue reading »”Why Vacations Are Critical For Successful Leadership”

Understanding The Value Of Charisma In Leadership

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Last week, I had the pleasure of giving the keynote speech at the 2014 NAED LEAD Conference held in Chicago. Given how the focus of my speech was examining the role of charisma in leadership and how we can develop this trait to inspire and engage our employees, it would seem almost natural that the locale for this keynote was this elegant, almost regal ballroom located in one of the illustrious hotels found along Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile”.

Of course, for those who attended my keynote speech, what was a true reflection of the lessons I shared through my talk was the opportunity to connect with new people to listen to their stories about what their successes and their failures have helped them to learn moving forward.

With this in mind, I want to share with you not the highlights of my keynote speech and the various actionable measures that I taught conference attendees to adopt and apply to their own leadership style of guiding their organization. Rather, what I’d like to share here are my reflections from delivering this message to this audience, and hearing what attendees shared about how they would apply these new insights to become a better leader to those under their care.

Tanveer delivering keynote speech at 2014 LEAD Conference in Chicago.

Tanveer delivering keynote speech at 2014 LEAD Conference in Chicago.

To begin, let us first understand that charisma is not simply about having this natural charm or a magnetic aura that some of us seem to naturally possess to draw in those around us. Rather, as the Oxford Dictionary points out, charisma refers to our ability “to inspire followers with devotion and enthusiasm”.

In other words, charisma is not simply about how charming those around us perceive us to be, but our ability to inspire and engage our employees to Click here to continue reading »”Understanding The Value Of Charisma In Leadership”

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