Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

What We Get Wrong About Authenticity In Leadership

Discover why authenticity in leadership is not about being the “real you”, but about understanding what your purpose and core values are.

When it comes to improving the way we lead, there’s a number of approaches that have been championed by both leadership experts and researchers looking into understanding what makes someone a successful leader.

While some concepts can be straightforward, others are more susceptible to misinterpretation and consequently, lead to approaches that weaken your ability to bring out the best in those you lead. One example of this is the idea that we need to be “more authentic” in our leadership.

Unfortunately, talk of authenticity in leadership often gives rise to the notion that leaders simply need to be ‘the real you’.

The truth, though, is that when it comes to leadership, authenticity isn’t about being the “real me”, but being true to our purpose and values that drive us [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

It means that in every encounter, in every conversation, and in every word we speak and action we take we hold ourselves true to that vision that defines why we do what we do, as well as to those core values that serve as both our cardinal points and rudder to ensure we stay the course and not run astray.

Of course, when it comes to core values in leadership, not surprisingly the values that come up are integrity, trust, and respect. Without question, these are important values that a leader must treat as not only unshakable, but ones that should never be compromised in order to achieve our goals or vision.

However, in the context of authenticity in leadership, we need to do more than simply adhere to these core values considering how these are values that we should expect in everyone and not just in those holding leadership positions.

After all, would you willingly buy from someone who lacks integrity in how they’re willing to short-change you to increase their profit margins? Would you want to do business with someone who disrespects you or the people you care about? And would you be okay doing business with someone you don’t trust?

Of course not, which is why we need to recognize that these aren’t noble or virtuous values to hold, but the very least we should have and be doing.

But this is where our values allow us to be more authentic in our leadership as they help to Click here to continue reading »”What We Get Wrong About Authenticity In Leadership”

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”

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?”

Do Your Organization’s Values Reflect What It Stands For?

The recent scandal at Wells Fargo provides a unique backdrop to discuss the role organizational values should be playing in today's leadership.

Over the past several months, there has been a growing discussion and even discord in various parts of the world over the issue of reasserting what our values are as a society and country.

From the various debates in European countries about the sociological impact of rising refugee populations, to the polarizing political climate brewing within the current US election period, there’s been a growing unrest in certain countries to ‘protect their country’s values’ in light of changing demographics and the growing interdependence brought on by today’s global economy.

Ironically, in almost every one of these discussions regarding the importance of protecting a society’s or country’s values, there’s a noticeable absence of clarity about which values exactly are in need of protection, or are currently at risk of being washed away by the arrival of immigrants and refugees on their country’s proverbial shores (in most cases, when certain values are pointed out as being at risk, they tend to be those that are already enshrined in a country’s laws or are deeply entrenched in existing cultural norms).

That lack of clarity about what values these countries need to protect reflects a current affliction impacting many of today’s organizations. Specifically, of how the values an organization uses to define who they are and what they’re all about tend to be contradicted by the decisions and choices their leaders make regarding the best way to achieve their short term goals.

Consider, for example, Wells Fargo, the latest US financial organization to get caught up in a major scandal and subsequent public relations disaster. An examination of the text found on their company’s webpage simply titled “Our Values” reveals this telling statement:

“All team members should know our values so well that if our policy manuals didn’t exist, we would still make decisions based on our common understanding of our culture and what we stand for. … If we had to choose, we’d rather have a team member who lives by our values than one who just memorizes them.”

And then further down on this same page, Wells Fargo identifies “ethics” and “what’s right for our customers” as being among those values that they expect all of their employees to recognize and abide by in how they perform their duties within their organization.

Now, considering the recent revelation that this financial institution had created almost 2 million fraudulent bank and credit card accounts in order to increase fees they charged to their existing client base, it’s not surprising that this company has lost the confidence and trust of both their customer base and the public at large. The fact that their actions blatantly contradict the very values they espouse to hold dear only makes the hole in which they’ve dug themselves into even deeper and harder to get out of.

But the larger issue this situation exposes for other organizations is whether Click here to continue reading »”Do Your Organization’s Values Reflect What It Stands For?”

4 Important Leadership Lessons From The Final Frontier

In honour of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, here are 4 important leadership lessons we can learn from the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

If you’re a Star Trek fan like myself, then you know this week marks a historic milestone for this science fiction cultural phenomenon. More specifically, how this Thursday, September 8th marks the 50th anniversary of the airing of the first episode in this iconic, internationally renowned television series.

Whether you’re a fan of the series, or sci-fi in general, or not, you have to admit it’s an impressive feat for a series made literally half a century ago to have given rise to four television spinoff series (with a fifth TV series now in the works), along with 13 movies, including the recent reboot series of which my daughter Alya is a big fan.

Now while I imagine much will be written and spoken this week regarding the enduring appeal of this show, there can be no doubt that a big factor behind its ability to continue to garner new fans decades after its series run is because of its earnest desire to showcase our collective humanity at its very best.

But there’s another aspect of this popular franchise that we can also appreciate and that is some of the lessons we can learn about how to be the kind of leader who not only inspires the best in others, but who also demonstrates a sense of clarity about who we are and what we’d like to achieve.

To that end, here are 4 important leadership lessons we can learn from Star Trek to improve the way we lead our team and organization.

1. You have to care about your people as much as you do about your mission
With a show as old as the original Star Trek series, it’s only natural that certain presumptions are made about the show and its characters that are not necessarily reflective of what was really shown on the series. One example of this was how in recent years, people began to think of Captain Kirk as being this action-oriented leader while his more recent, modern counterparts in subsequent TV sequel series were the more thoughtful, cerebral type.

While there certainly were more fight sequences in The Original Series as compared to the ones it gave rise to, the truth is that one thing that was ever-present in Kirk’s character was how his primary focus was on his crew. While the most obvious example of this can be seen in various episodes where Kirk faces a threatening adversary and barters his own life in exchange for the safety of his crew, the most evocative example of this is seen in those moments where he kneels over the body of a lost crewman.

Unlike his contemporaries who absorbed crew losses as new data to reformulate their strategy, Kirk never shied away from letting others see that he’s taking this loss personally, regardless of how well or how little he knew them.

But he also demonstrated that sense of care and concern in how he pushed his crew to do better; to challenge themselves to rise above the challenges before them because he believed in their potential to be more. That’s why the stories in this series remain timeless – it’s not about the technology, but about Click here to continue reading »”4 Important Leadership Lessons From The Final Frontier”

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