Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Are You Supporting Your Organization’s New Leaders To Succeed?

A closer look at why it's important for organizations to not overlook providing support for the new leaders their management ranks.

Over the past few months, I’ve written a number of articles that examined from different vantage points the importance of leaders providing support and guidance for those under their care.

Judging from the response these pieces received, it’s clear that these ideas and insights certainly resonated with my readers. And yet, the truth is that when it comes to discussions about providing support to members of our organization, there is one subset that unfortunately gets overlooked in these conversations. The group I’m referring to are those employees who’ve recently been promoted into leadership roles.

To understand the unique challenges they face, we must first consider the process by which many newly-minted leaders are selected for taking on these new roles.

In most cases, being offered a leadership role is treated as a promotion – either to reward an employee’s past achievements, or to ensure their talents and skills are retained within the organization. Consequently, organizations end up with people in leadership positions who don’t have the proper skills and mindset to successfully lead others.

Indeed, a recent study by Gallup found that 82% of current managers lack the skills and aptitude to be an effective leader, skills like being able to “motivate every single employee to take action”, creating a “culture of clear accountability”, building relationships with those they lead, and making decisions based on what’s best for the team and organization as opposed to just for themselves.

In other cases, the promotion of employees to new leadership roles is hastily done in response to the growing number of vacancies in leadership positions. For example, one study found that only 36% of surveyed companies were prepared to immediately fill vacancies in their leadership roles.

One of the more obvious issues these findings reveal is that many organizations are moving people into leadership roles too quickly, in that they lack sufficient leadership training and development to ensure they succeed in this new role.

Or even worse, they give leadership roles to people who don’t have what it takes to effectively lead others; that while they might be technically proficient, they don’t have knowledge, insights or skills necessary to take on the responsibility to lead others.

But the other issue these approaches to leadership promotion creates is that it Click here to continue reading »”Are You Supporting Your Organization’s New Leaders To Succeed?”

Stop Aspiring To Lead And Start Leading By Giving Support

For organizations to succeed, leaders need to learn how to provide better support for their employees. Learn where to begin with this piece.
The following is a guest piece by Inc. columnist and NYU Adjunct Professor Joshua Spodek
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People who aspire to lead look upward in a hierarchy to find power and authority they can grab onto to pull themselves up. That’s why they’re still aspiring and not leading. People above them can sense their craving, which they can motivate them with, which makes them followers, not leaders.

Great, effective leaders support people, which means not looking up but looking around at people at all levels. Supporting people attracts them to your team. Support creates loyalty, dedication, and results. People who support become leaders because people want to follow them. They buoy themselves up through effective action, which means getting things done.

Why you don’t know how to support

The challenge to grow your teams, followers, and community is more than knowing you have to support people. Everyone knows what they should do in the abstract. The challenge is knowing how and doing it. Schools don’t teach it. Media don’t show this bread-and-butter but not dramatic part of leadership. What’s effective doesn’t sell movie tickets.

In my book, “Leadership Step by Step“, I treat support as the culmination of the leadership skills that you reach after mastering everything else. I think of it like the serve in tennis. It may be an important part of the game, maybe the most important, but it’s hard, so you don’t learn it first. Learning it requires Click here to continue reading »”Stop Aspiring To Lead And Start Leading By Giving Support”

Leading In The Face Of Adversity And Sorrow

A national tragedy shines a light on a powerful leadership message on how we can do better going forward after enduring the worst.

Illustration created by my daughter Zafina in response to the terrorist attack on a Quebec City mosque.

As many of my long-time readers know, I publish new articles on leadership here on my blog every Tuesday. Now I had a piece written up that I was in the process of editing for publication this week, but a recent attack in my home province has lead me to shelve that piece so that I can share something a little more personal, and hopefully inspiring for how we can do better going forward.

This past Sunday night, news broke out that a native Quebecer – emboldened by the rise in right-wing, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim sentiments across North America and Europe – walked into a Quebec City mosque and began shooting at the men, women, and children praying inside, killing 6 people and wounding 19 others. It’s the worst act of terrorism to ever happen in my country.

Within a mere 24 hours, I went from feeling hopeful optimism at seeing people around the world rally together in solidarity against the bigotry, fear-mongering, and hate exemplified by Trump’s Muslim ban – to outright horror, anger, and sadness at how one of my fellow Quebecers could think it was acceptable to destroy the lives of innocent families simply because he has a problem with their faith.

As I write this, my emotions are still raw, my heart heavy and aching, and tears well up when I look at my daughters and imagine what kind of world will await them. Make no mistake, my province does have issues with racism, Islamophobia, and antisemitism. But I never imagined that this kind of hate would find expression in the form of a terrorist attack so close to home.

As I sat here trying to prepare my latest leadership piece for publication, I realized that I couldn’t simply act as though nothing happened because something did happen. Something that will now forever change who we are as Quebecers, and how we must go about seeing and understanding ourselves going forward.

Of course, whenever an event arises that shatters our perceptions of our community and country, there is an understandable need to try and make sense of it; to understand how such a horrific act of terrorism could happen where we live, and what good, if any, we can find in this darkness that’s fallen upon us.

And so, I wanted to address this tragedy from the point of leadership – of what do we do when faced with adversity and sorrow, not from failing to land a new client, but when tragedy strikes that affects those we lead at their very core.

To date, I’ve been genuinely impressed and touched by the actions of politicians at all levels here – from the mayor of Quebec City and our Quebec Premier, all the way to our Prime Minister and the leaders of our federal opposition parties. Each of them recognized the importance of not only expressing solidarity and inclusion in the face of terrorism and unbridled hatred towards Muslims, but of reaching out to the Muslim community to let them know you’re not alone and you’re one of us.

It’s a powerful message, not simply because it reasserts the values of Quebec and Canada – those of championing multiculturalism, a shared identity, and our collective and individual freedoms – but it also sends a much needed message to the Muslim community, a minority group that’s a regular victim of stigmatization and vilification. The message: you belong here and you matter.

The simplicity of this message reveals an important point that leaders everywhere need to recognize: Click here to continue reading »”Leading In The Face Of Adversity And Sorrow”

Is Your Leadership Based On Influence Or Authority?

A look at authority and influence in leadership and why one of these is more critical than the other to succeed at leadership in today's organizations.

With a complex endeavour such as leadership, it’s only natural that there be different schools of thought and perspectives on what would be the best way to lead your team and organization forward. Of course, while there might be different approaches to leadership, there are still a few binary aspects to how we approach the role of leader in today’s organizations.

One example is the choice between the command-and-control style of leadership and one that’s more collaborative and inclusive in how we rally people around a common cause or goal. While most of us have come to appreciate the limitations and inefficiencies that come with a top-down style of leadership, one binary approach to leadership that’s not so clear is the one where we choose either to rely on our authority or on our influence to guide our team or organization.

Now to be clear, leaders by default do operate with some form of authority, usually as a result of their position within their organization. Where problems arise is when we think that all a person needs to lead others is a sense of authority without any consideration for the impact our actions have on those we have the responsibility to lead.

To help illustrate what I mean by this, I’d like to share the example of two people I worked with during my clinical-work days at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.

Irene was a member of the nurses team that the doctors and my fellow clinicians collaborated with in our work treating the various patients that came to our hospital-based clinic. Although this team of nurses didn’t have a head nurse, Irene liked to think of herself as being the head nurse and certainly liked to act like she had that weight to throw around in her interactions with both fellow staff and patients.

Now while there was no question that Irene was a competent and caring nurse, it was clear talking to her fellow nurses that if a head nurse job were to be created and Irene were to get it, the nurses would be lining up at the HR department with requests to transfer to another department.

The problem Irene had is that while she was certainly technically competent as a nurse, she had little to no influence in terms of people wanting to follow her advice and suggestions.

In fact, it was so bad that there were a few occasions where I saw Irene give some unsolicited advice about a particular case and her fellow nurses would outright ignore her. And if you asked the other nurses why they’d behave that way, they’d tell you about how they didn’t want to make Irene’s ego any bigger than it already was.

Now compare Irene’s example to Helen, another nurse who worked at this clinic. Helen was the nurse who everyone went to if they needed help with a particular problem or if you just needed a friendly ear to vent to about some difficult patient.

Helen was just as competent and caring a nurse as Irene, but the difference between these two professionals was that Helen made it all about the patient, while Irene was more interested in finding opportunities to showcase herself and her abilities.

While both nurses had the same level of authority in how they performed their jobs, time and time again when patients returned, it was Helen who received the most requests from patients to have her working on their case.

Now the reason why I wanted to use nurses who lack formal leadership titles to discuss this issue is in part because it’s a common adage that in today’s modern workplaces, anybody can be a leader; that we don’t need a title to wield influence within our team and organization.

But perhaps more importantly, Irene and Helen’s example also helps to illustrate a key finding from recent neuroscience studies that offer an important reality check for how effective we are in bringing out the best in those we lead.

Researchers have found that the relationship between Click here to continue reading »”Is Your Leadership Based On Influence Or Authority?”

Recognizing Our Power To Lead And Inspire Others

Understanding-power-to-lead-and-inspire

Over the course of this year, I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over North America speaking at conferences and with organizations about how we can do a better job being the kind of leader our employees need us to be.

As I travelled from the East Coast down to the South Coast, and just two weeks ago, to the West Coast when I spoke at an IT-education conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, I couldn’t help but notice a common line of inquiry being brought forward by some of the leaders in attendance.

While the exact circumstances and dynamics varied among these different leaders, there was nonetheless a common thread at the heart of each of these questions being asked – how do I get those in charge above me to be more like the leaders you demonstrated are necessary for an organization’s long-term growth and success?

Regardless of the focus of my talk or the industry in which these leaders serve, I always began my answer with the same starting point – the fundamental truth is that we can’t get people to do what we want or need, even if at times it’s in their best interests.

Consider, for example, those times when we’re given advice by our doctors for how we can improve our health. How many of us openly embrace the changes to our lifestyle that we’re being told to make? Most often we don’t, that is until our health deteriorates to the point where we no longer have the choice but to follow our doctor’s directives.

But what’s really interesting about this question is not how it surfaces in such diverse groups – from businesses to public institutions, from government agencies here in Canada to multinational organizations based in the US. Rather, what’s interesting is how in each of these situations, the leader standing before me is essentially giving up their power to be the change they need to see in their organization.

Of course, the almost immediate response most of us have to discussing power in the workplace is to view it within the lens of our organization’s structure; that the degree of power one has is relative to the position you hold within the organization.

While it’s understandable to view power from this perspective, the problem I have with this viewpoint is that it leads us to Click here to continue reading »”Recognizing Our Power To Lead And Inspire Others”

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