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”

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”

A Year-End Note Of Inspiration To Keep Pushing Ahead

An end-of-year note to inspire leaders to challenge their outlook for how they will empower the best in those they lead.

With the end of one year and the beginning of a new one now upon us, the typical response for many of us is to reflect on what’s transpired over these past 12 months, while at the same time looking ahead in anticipation of what’s to come in the new year.

In the case of 2016, there seems to be a common consensus that this was a particularly bad year which many are glad to see come to an end. For some, this sentiment is borne from the loss of certain musicians, actors, and artists over the past 12 months, while for others, this feeling stems from the results of various political elections and referendums held around the world.

Of course, what is interesting about these negative impressions regarding this year is that the outcomes that many use to define 2016 as being a particularly ‘bad year’ have yet to be felt. It’s only in the months ahead that we’ll appreciate how there won’t be any new performances or new creative works from the musicians, actors and other creative types who passed away in 2016.

And while the voting process for Brexit and the US presidential election was held this year, the real consequences and impact of those choices won’t be truly felt or understood until well into 2017 and beyond. In other words, the ending of 2016 marks only the beginning for the UK and the US – along with the rest of the world – as to what their choices will give rise to in terms of what the future will hold for their respective countries.

And yet, this hasn’t stopped many from looking at these events in isolation; as a reflection of what this year represents, as opposed to what they might give rise to in the months and years ahead.

This disparity between an event and its long-term repercussions provides an important reminder for leaders everywhere, of the difference between how we might see things in our organization and how our employees experience them.

Consider, for example, when your organization experiences a loss or failure like when your organization loses a key contract to a competitor despite your team’s efforts, or when a new product/service that’s been championed to be your organization’s next great accomplishment fails to deliver on that promise.

In those moments, it’s only natural that the prevailing mood in your organization will be gloomy – that your employees will feel discouraged, possibly even disillusioned because they believed in their potential to succeed.

It’s in these moments where our leadership is needed most – not simply to Click here to continue reading »”A Year-End Note Of Inspiration To Keep Pushing Ahead”

A Timely Reminder Of The Power Of Empathy In Leadership

This week's US election day provides a unique backdrop on which to illustrate the importance of empathy in today's leadership.

No matter where you live, there’s no question that the big story this week is the arrival of the US election and who the American public has decided to serve their country as their next President. For those outside of the US, it’s been both an interesting and troubling journey the US electorate has been put through, especially in its final few months.

Although I’m Canadian, it’s easy to relate to and understand the frustration and dismay many Americans have felt over the course of this election period, along with a good dose of wariness for what lies ahead after the election is over, regardless of who wins.

And yet, this current US election does provide an important lesson for leaders everywhere of just how important empathy is becoming to our ability to lead, as we’ve been given a concrete example of just how quickly things can fall apart when we divide people into groups of “us” versus “them”.

And to be clear, politics is not the only domain where this happens. All of us have had the experience of working with someone we don’t like, and sometimes even someone who we feel – or even know – is working to undermine our authority or credibility in the eyes of our co-workers or those we lead.

And in those circumstances, it becomes very easy for us to delineate those we view to be in “our camp” and those who we look upon with doubt and mistrust because they align themselves with those we dislike.

But what this past US election has shown us is that if we allow those feelings to fester, if we choose to allow others to exploit and drive that wedge that separates people based on what we lack in common with one another, we will end up not only with a more hostile work environment, but we will be permitting conditions to take hold that will make it even more difficult for our employees to get things done.

And this is why emotional intelligence and in particular, empathy, has become so critical to our ability to effectively lead others – empathy allows us to bridge the gap between how we see things and how others experience them [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter].

Through our empathy, we’re able to move beyond the binary attitude of “I’m right/you’re wrong” which can impede any initiative from moving forward, to one that’s driven by the desire to discover that common ground we share with one another so that we can promote collaboration and foster sustainable growth.

It’s a truth that becomes all the more obvious when we remember that the key to your organization’s success and future prosperity is no longer based solely on the processes and technologies found within your company’s walls, but within the talents, insights, and experiences of those you lead. Something that one can tap into only if we create conditions where people feel connected to what they do and to those around them, as well as being a part of the shared purpose that defines your collective efforts.

But how do we know if we’re truly being empathetic in our leadership? How can we tell if we’re creating Click here to continue reading »”A Timely Reminder Of The Power Of Empathy In Leadership”

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