Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

6 Steps To Strengthen Team Cohesion

Learn about 6 steps leaders can take to strengthen team cohesion to boost employee productivity and drive organizational growth.

If there’s one point all of us can agree on today, it’s that we’re living in increasingly divisive times.

As a writer, I can certainly appreciate the irony of this statement. But as a leadership expert, it also highlights a critical function leaders need to play both to drive organizational growth, as well as to boost employee productivity.

While those efforts to divide us as opposed to discovering those commonalities that bind us together might seem to be more an issue within the political and social issues realm, organizations are clearly feeling the effects of these forces within their workforce.

And this is something leaders need to be mindful of if they are to continue to foster conditions necessary for ensuring people can work together effectively towards the achievement of a common goal.

As such, here are six steps that will help you strengthen team cohesion, regardless of what storms might be looming outside your organization’s walls.

1. Draw clear lines between what your team does and the shared purpose of your organization
One of the best ways to strengthen team cohesion is helping your employees to view their efforts within the context of the larger vision of the organization. After all, it’s easy to care about our contributions, but what about the contributions their fellow team mates make? Of course, when people don’t carry their load or if they make a mistake that impacts the whole team, it’s easy to care (or more likely get upset).

But team cohesion is about getting everyone on the team to consider the whole along with the individual parts. In other words, when you communicate and lead your team using your shared purpose as your compass, everyone wins [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

2. Ensure employees get real-time feedback to help assess their performance
There’s a common consensus amongst the various studies on employee engagement that leaders need to be giving more feedback to their employees. But another thing leaders should be doing to strengthen team cohesion is promoting conditions that encourage employees to give each other feedback in real-time, and not just as part of some 360 annual review.

Getting real-time feedback from your peers fosters greater clarity about how various team members are perceived to improve contributions and involvement. Ensuring your team members get feedback from their colleagues will also reduce Click here to continue reading »”6 Steps To Strengthen Team Cohesion”

What Happened To Trust And Integrity In Today’s Organizations?

Trust and integrity seem to be in decline in many organizations today. Here's a revealing look at why they are so critical to leadership and organizational success.

Over the past several weeks, there has been a recurring theme in the news of organizations being caught at their worst and with it, how often leaders drop the ball in owning up to these failures incurred by those they lead.

While the most talked-about examples have been Pepsi’s tone-deaf commercial and United Airlines’ abhorrent treatment of one of their passengers, I want to share the story of another organization’s colossal misstep in order to illustrate how the disconnect leaders engender between an organization’s efforts and those they are meant to serve can have a far greater and deleterious impact than we might realize.

Perhaps best known internationally as the creator of the Ski-Doo snowmobile and Sea-Doo personal watercraft, here in the province of Quebec, Bombardier holds a storied and revered place as a shining example of Quebecois entrepreneurship, business acumen, and high-tech talent.

Or at least they did until it was revealed that the company had given its executives a 50% pay hike after laying off 11 000 employees and asking for over $1 billion in bailout funds from the provincial and federal government in order to help keep them afloat.

Since the news broke, Bombardier’s image in the province has taken a serious hit and the company has been subject to numerous protests outside their headquarters here in Montreal. Bombardier has since attempted to save face by announcing that they would defer almost half of the proposed executive compensation until 2020.

But by then it was too late as even now, more than half of Quebecers say they have a negative impression of this once well-regarded company, a reality that will not only impact their ability to garner public funds in the future, but also the way their employees view their organization and their contributions to it.

Now, in the case of Pepsi and United Airlines, the typical focus tends to be on them being examples of failures in crisis communication. And yet, while these assessments are correct, they also create a false impression that these incidents are temporal in nature, evoking the old adage of how time heals all wounds.

But the real lesson we should be taking from each of these examples is not simply what and how we communicate following a clear violation of what we claim to be our organization’s vision and/or values, but of how this kind of disconnect in our leadership can irreparably damage the trust we’ve earned – not just with our customer base, but amongst those we have the responsibility to lead.

Through the examples of Pepsi, United Airlines, and Bombardier, we not only see first-hand what happens when we fail to honour what we claim to stand for, but also an important truth about the nature of trust in leadership. Namely, that trust is not a transitory value, but should serve as an unyielding cardinal point in your leadership [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

It’s a fact that both the CEO at United Airlines and Bombardier have failed to understand given how their first response in the face of public outrage over what happened under their watch was to sidestep any real responsibility and in the case of Bombardier, go so far as to justify it as being the norm.

What both of these leaders have clearly failed to learn is that trust is more than a noble virtue – it’s a promise we make to others that we’ll do them no harm [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

Of course, while these examples demonstrate just how quickly leaders can Click here to continue reading »”What Happened To Trust And Integrity In Today’s Organizations?”

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”

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”

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”

« Older Entries