Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Are You Helping Employees Find Purpose In What They Do?

A revealing look at the role leaders need to play to help their employees find purpose in the work they do and with it, fuel their organization's growth.

As the clock starts to wind down on 2017, I’ve been spending some time reflecting on some of the recurring themes and ideas I’ve written and spoken about over the past 12 months. Among these various leadership topics and issues was the subject of finding a sense of purpose in what we do, a topic which also served as the focus of the TEDx talk I gave this past September here in Montreal.

With this in mind, I’d like to share the story of a student who attends my daughters’ high school and what his example reveals about the role leaders play in helping their employees find a sense of purpose in what they do.

At our school’s Governing Board meeting last week, we had two teachers who shared a new project they run for students who are at-risk of dropping out of high school. In this program, these students spend half their school day learning core curriculum subjects and the other half is spent learning vocational skills on-site. This way, when they graduate, they already have hands-on experience to help them enter the workforce.

One of the latest projects involves rebuilding and restoring bikes confiscated by the police. As we toured the bike workshop, I couldn’t help but notice how clean this machinery shop was, especially given the kind of work that gets done there.

I was told by one of the teachers running the program that at the beginning of the school year, one of these at-risk students told him “I don’t want to work on fixing bikes. I just want to work on keeping this place clean. I want to broom the floors, wipe clean the work surfaces, and take care of the garbage.” So, this teacher decided to give this student a pass on teaching him how to repair bikes and instead, guided him on how he could keep the place tidy and putting things back where they belong.

As I looked around the workshop, I couldn’t help but be impressed that the reason why this workshop was so clean was because one of the students had stepped forward saying the skills he’d like to learn were how to keep a machinery workshop clean and organized.

Since our board meeting, I’ve been thinking a lot about this boy; of how at such a young age, he had figured out an important truth about the nature of purpose – our sense of purpose is not simply created by the work we do, but through the choices we make [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

In terms of leadership, what this means is that we don’t have to be Click here to continue reading »”Are You Helping Employees Find Purpose In What They Do?”

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”

What Storytelling Reveals As The Role Leaders Should Play

A revealing look at three stories that help to illustrate how the function of leaders is to serve as mentors for the real heroes of their organization – their employees.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about 3 fundamental storytelling elements leaders should employ to successfully drive change.

Now when it comes to using storytelling to help describe our vision or change initiative, the common tendency is to frame our story within the hero on a quest narrative, given how it’s the decisions and choices we make through our leadership that ultimately impact whether we collectively succeed or fail.

And yet, the truth is that while we may be the source of the vision or change initiative that guides our collective efforts, the actual role we play as leaders in our organization’s story is not that of the hero, but that of the mentor.

To understand why the role of mentor is the proper fit for leaders in terms of the journey your organization needs to take, let’s start off by looking at the three characteristics that define what a mentor does:

1. Mentors act as our teacher and guide
The most common role mentors play is that of a teacher and guide; that they use their own experiences and insights to help others learn about themselves and find the path they are meant to take to achieve a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives.

2. Mentors serve as both our cheerleader and our challenger
Mentors will often cheer us on – inspiring us to keep pushing ahead, and eager to celebrate our successes. But mentors also challenge us to question our assumptions of what we’re capable of and what we can achieve.

3. The mentoring relationship has a fixed end point
There’s a clear end point in the relationship between the mentor and the mentee. Specifically, that once the mentor has provided their mentee with all the help and guidance they can provide, it’s time for the mentee to use their acquired knowledge and insights to continue their journey on their own.

Taken together, these three characteristics illustrate what Christopher Vogler wrote in his book, “The Writer’s Journey”:

“Mentors provide heroes with motivation, inspiration, guidance, training, and gifts for the journey. Every hero is guided by something, and a story without some acknowledgement of this energy is incomplete.”

Interestingly, Vogler’s description of the role mentors play in storytelling mirrors the function of effective leadership. Namely, that it’s a leader’s responsibility to craft a vision that inspires people to commit their best efforts, as well as providing our employees with the support and guidance to help make that vision a reality.

Of course, when it comes to storytelling, it’s easy for us to imagine ourselves being the heroes of our organization’s story thanks to our leadership role. And yet, the simple truth is that as leaders, we serve as the mentor to the real heroes of our organization’s story – our employees [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

With that in mind, I’d like to share stories from three different movies that help shine a light on how we can serve as mentors through our leadership to bring out the best in those we lead: Click here to continue reading »”What Storytelling Reveals As The Role Leaders Should Play”

Are You A First Responder Or A Leader?

Learn how leaders can foster greater trust among their employees by focusing more on promoting their autonomy than on putting out fires.

The following is a guest piece by Elliot Begoun.

Mark looked up from his computer and took a deep breath. The frenetic pace of the day had given way to the serene quiet of an empty building. He both treasured this time and found himself tortured by it. The stillness and the lack of interruption, allowed him to finally focus without the chaos of the day constantly ripping him away from his work.

But, this time came with a big sacrifice. Sitting in his office at 7:30 pm meant that he had once again failed to make it to his daughter’s soccer practice, and was sure to miss dinner with the family. He shook his head as if to drive the thought away and returned to the spreadsheet that was demanding his attention.

The next morning Mark had his weekly breakfast meeting with his friend and long-time mentor Sam, who greeted him by saying, “You look like crap! When was the last time you got a good night’s sleep?”

Mark smiled and said, “I think it was that vacation we took 4 months ago.” Sadly, Mark was not kidding.

He went on to tell Sam about yesterday’s craziness. It started by having to run down to the production floor because there was a problem with the filler, and before he could even make it back to his office the QA manager had flagged him down. When he finally did get there, he explained that he was bombarded by emails and phone calls, all of which were in search of some solution or another. Sam just sat and listened intently.

When Mark finally wrapped up his recantation, Sam said, “It sounds to me like you are more of a first responder than you are a leader.”

A puzzled look washed over Mark’s face, so Sam continued. “You are Click here to continue reading »”Are You A First Responder Or A Leader?”

How Leaders Can Use Disruptive Innovation To Drive Growth

Whitney-Johnson-Leadership-Biz-Cafe

When it comes to disruptive innovation, the common and natural tendency is to view it from the lens of organizational growth and evolution. But can the power of disruptive innovation also be applied at the individual level to drive personal success and growth, and if so, how exactly do we go about doing that? It’s the question that serves as the guiding focus of my talk with management thinker, writer, and author, Whitney Johnson.

Whitney is the co-founder of Rose Park Advisors, an investment firm she co-founded with renowned innovation thinker Clayton Christensen. She’s also a former award-winning Wall Street analyst and this year she was a finalist in the Best in Talent Category for the Management Thinkers50.

In addition to writing for the Harvard Business Review and LinkedInfluencer, Whitney’s work has been featured in Fast Company, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, and several other media outlets.

Whitney is also the author of two books, the first being “Dare, Dream, Do” and her latest being “Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work”, which is also the focus of this episode’s discussion.

Over the course of this episode, Whitney and I touch on a number of fascinating and personal insights that she shares in her latest book, including: Click here to continue reading »”How Leaders Can Use Disruptive Innovation To Drive Growth”

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