Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Leaders, Want To Master Innovation? Then Get Funny!

Discover the role humor can play in helping leaders to master and successfully drive innovation in their organization.

The following is a guest piece by Jaime Anderson and Gabor George Burt.

In the beginning, there was humor and there was laughter. And it was good. But then, work became suffocatingly serious. Until now.

There’s an entire branch of social science that studies the psychological and physiological effects of humor and laughter on the brain and the immune system— it’s called gelotology.

Discoveries in this field have demonstrated that humor, laughter and fun releases physical and cognitive tension, which can lead to perceptual flexibility—a required component of creativity, ideation, and problem solving. So to get the most out of innovation processes such as design thinking, truly creative leaders also need to master the social dynamics of… [wait for the punchline}…humor!

But in the world of leadership, humor has typically been typecast as a manifestation of individual personalities and thereby a spontaneous and non-replicable activity. Much less attention has been given to the idea that humor might be acquired, learned and nurtured.

We have witnessed that skilled leaders, those we call “Stand-Up Strategists”, understand Click here to continue reading »”Leaders, Want To Master Innovation? Then Get Funny!”

7 Ways To Improve Your Work Culture Through Experimentation

A marketing firm CEO shares 6 tips from his company's experience on using experimentation to improve organizational culture.

The following is a guest piece by CEO Matt Rizzetta.

As our business has scaled, one thing that we’ve carried with us each step of the way has been a commitment to experimentation in the workplace. Some of our best ideas and biggest cultural differentiators were borne from experiments we created.

Make no mistake about it. While I’m incredibly proud of the culture of experimentation that we’ve cultivated through the years, it’s come at a steep price. Lots of time, commitment, sleepless nights and many painful lessons along the way as experiments have been developed, implemented and scrutinized at every step of the test lab.

If you’re a business leader looking to inject a dose of experimentation to improve your culture, here are seven tips to keep in mind:

1. Find the Right Rhythm and Balance in Your Symphony
Think about experimentation in your workplace as if it were a symphony. You need to find the right mixture of instruments in order to create the perfect piece. Rhythm and balance are key.

Create experimental initiatives that are customized to the structure of your org chart and the various roles and functions within your company. In our case, this means individuals, teams, and company-wide initiatives.

All of our experiments are geared toward one of these buckets, with balance and parity being spread across each. In addition to the org chart, use your Click here to continue reading »”7 Ways To Improve Your Work Culture Through Experimentation”

Why Your Employees Don’t Understand You And What To Do About It

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A common theme found among the numerous books and articles on successful leadership is that leaders need to be more open, more transparent with those they lead in order to improve communication channels and drive forward initiatives that are key to an organization’s success and growth.

But what if we’re not as open or as easy to read as we might think that we are? What if the actions we’re taking overlook a key aspect of how our brain operates?

That’s the premise and focus of this new episode of my leadership show, “Leadership Biz Cafe” where I welcome Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson to share her insights from her latest book “No One Understands You And What To Do About It”.

Heidi is a social psychologist whose research and writings focus on the science of motivation. She is also the Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia Business School and a member of many esteemed scientific communities and organizations. In addition to authoring several books including “Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals” and “Focus”, Heidi is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, and Psychology Today.

You may also recognize her name from some of the guest contributions she’s made to my leadership blog as well.

Over the course of our conversation, Heidi and I discuss a number of interesting points and insights from various studies shared in her latest book that can help leaders become more effective in their roles, including: Click here to continue reading »”Why Your Employees Don’t Understand You And What To Do About It”

Why Leaders Need To Stop Using Performance Reviews

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The following is a guest piece by former Disney executive Ken Goldstein.

I don’t like performance reviews. I never liked giving them, and I never liked getting them. They are like school report cards, only less well-meaning and more poorly formed. They make the workplace more political, needlessly enforcing nerve-wracking centers of power. They serve a legal function much more than a creative function. They don’t make products better and they don’t serve customer needs.

They are obligatory, perfunctory, dreaded time sucks for both giver and receiver, putting a check mark in an annual rite of passage that is largely ignored until the Earth completes another full orbit around the Sun.

On the other hand, I love feedback – really good, thoughtful, useful, timely, focused feedback. I love to give it and I love to get it as part of a regular routine. No check boxes, no check marks.

Feedback, sometimes known as coaching, requires relevant substance to have impact. It needs to center on step by step improvement in how an individual is doing against goals, how a team is advancing by virtue of an individual’s progress, how innovation is being served by attitudes and decisions on a daily basis, and how an individual’s achievements are translated into outcomes valued by an employer.

I don’t believe anyone can effectively coach, empower, and bolster an individual’s workplace contributions sitting down once a year and filtering a list of positive and negative attributes. The best you can hope for is polite-speak that doesn’t upset anyone too much – unless you are marching someone to the door – and the worst you can muster is demoralization that shuts down all future hope of trust and collaboration.

Here are three thumbnail cases against performance reviews that you should find terrifying. Click here to continue reading »”Why Leaders Need To Stop Using Performance Reviews”

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”

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