Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Taking Another Look at Leadership and Change

A few days ago, I decided to change a photograph that’s been on display for the last several years in one of the picture frames which currently grace my desk. The photograph was a picture I had taken of my girls several years ago on one of those days from summer which we tend to look back on fondly through a soft-focus lens. Of course, in the time since that photograph was taken, my girls have grown up and it seemed overdue for this photograph be replaced by a more recent memory of our time together.

Although the act of replacing this photograph was fairly mundane, I still found myself being much more aware of this picture frame’s presence on my desk. Naturally, my first assumption was that this was simply a result of the new image staring out at me from that frame. However, what I realized was that this greater sense of awareness regarding this picture frame on my desk had less to do with the image itself and more to do with the fact that it had changed from something familiar and consistent, to something new and different.

What’s also interesting is how something that I took for granted as being a part of my work environment is now within my sphere of attention, even though the change itself wasn’t something dramatic like removing the picture frame and replacing it with something else. In this case, the reason why it’s now in my area of focus is simply because I took the time to notice it, recognize the need to change it and now that it’s been updated, I am able to appreciate how its presence impacts my work environment.

Of course, many of us understand that change is a natural part of life and business, and how being highly adaptive and responsive to changes is a key trait for success. At the same time, though, we all struggle with change, even when it helps to improve how we function or what we do, such as becoming a better and more attentive listener for our employees, or pushing some new innovative measure within our organization.

As all of us know from our own experiences, part of the challenge when dealing with any kind of change is the fear of failure; that instead of improving our organization, the changes we want to make will somehow backfire and create new problems within our organization.

But these moments are perfect opportunities for leaders to remind themselves that one of the responsibilities of leadership is not to avoid making changes out of fear of making mistakes. Instead, their goal should be to push for changes that will provide their organization with opportunities to grow and evolve, regardless of whether the change is successful or a failure.

In this light, it becomes clear that what’s needed by today’s leadership is not so much an acceptance that we live in a world in constant change. Rather, what’s required instead is for leaders to reassess their perception of change and in particular, how they choose to manage it within their organizations.

In looking ahead, leaders will need to remind themselves that change needn’t be overly complicated or painful in order to be able to see their organizations – and the contributions they make to the world around them – in a whole new light.

Indeed, sometimes that kind of insight can be gained through an action which is as simple as changing a picture in a frame.

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  1. On May 3rd, 2011 at 2:31 AM Syed Moiz said:

    I feel that in this post you missed how leaders can influence change, there are many ways a leader can influence change based on the organization structure and business dynamics.

    Expecting your next post to shed some light on this.


  2. On May 3rd, 2011 at 11:07 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi Moiz,

    Actually, I've written a few pieces already on how leaders can influence change. In fact, here's one piece in particular that I'd like to direct your attention to as it touches directly on what you refer to your comment. The piece is called "Encouraging Your Employees To Reach for the Moon" and it provides a number of steps that leaders can take to engage and empower their teams to effect change in their organization.

    In writing this piece, I wanted to take a step back and look at our relationship with change; of why we are able to recognize it as being a natural and ever-present force in our lives and yet, struggling to accept or manage its impact on what we do. By understanding why we have this hesitation, and even at times fear, regarding change we can free ourselves to actually openly participate and take ownership over the process.

    Thanks Moiz for sharing your thoughts on this and I do hope you'll check out that piece I mentioned above as it addresses many of the ideas you referred to.

  3. On May 3rd, 2011 at 8:38 AM Heather Stubbs said:

    Thanks for this thoughtful post, Tanveer! You have inspired me to write a blog post about what it takes to make positive change in one's speaking style. We tend to be deeply identified with the way we speak, and imagine either that we can't change it, or that to change it would change who we are. Yet people who take public speaking training reap huge benefits. It does take some courage, but mainly it takes intention and keeping one's eye on the goal — confident, fluent, audience-engaged connection. Seen in the light of the benefits, change doesn't look nearly as scary as it would seem.

  4. On May 3rd, 2011 at 11:28 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Heather; I'm delighted to hear this piece has inspired you to share your own thoughts on how people can view change as a positive measure to take in improving their communication skills. There's no doubt that any form of change requires some amount of courage because we have to let go of the familiar and known in exchange for pursuing new avenues and with it, opening ourselves up to new possibilities.

    I think that in addition to presenting change in terms of benefits, another key to making change something that people are more comfortable with is empowering them to feel and see themselves as the instrument of that change, instead of viewing that change as something that is simply happening to them.

    Thanks again, Heather, for the kind words. And please do let me know when your piece goes up. I'd love to read the insights this piece inspired you to share.

  5. On May 3rd, 2011 at 8:40 AM Jim Matorin said:

    “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

    I think we owed to ourselves to shake things (change) on a regular basis otherwise we fall victim to routines which can lead to complacency.

  6. On May 3rd, 2011 at 11:32 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Well said, Jim. And I think your point reinforces the idea that change doesn't have to be something that happens to us, but instead it can be a process where we respond to what's happening around us so that we not only remain relevant and competitive, but in control of the direction that our organization is headed.

    In changing that picture of my girls in that picture frame, I realized that it was also a conscious admission on my part to acknowledge how much they've grown, of how they're no longer these little girls, but that they are slowly making their way into becoming little women. Sure, on a rational level, I already knew this to be the case. But in changing this picture helped me to become truly aware of how profound those changes have been.

    That's why I think we need to let go of that assumption that we need some form of dramatic change to allow our organizations to evolve and grow. Instead, I think we need to afford ourselves opportunities to make these subtle adjustments which can help us realign our awareness with how things have changing and how that impacts our ability to reach those shared goals we set out with our team to reach.

  7. On May 7th, 2011 at 7:20 AM Delena Silverfox said:

    The thing about this post I most enjoyed was changing out the picture from something old and familiar to something new and different. It takes a lot of courage and effort to change, especially when it's something so sentimental and comfortable; sometimes it feels like letting go of a lot more than just a picture. I know when I change out things like that, it feels like I'm letting go of that moment, and sometimes it makes me feel somewhat guilty even though I'm putting a moment just as special and unique in its place to give it its turn for admiration and remembrance.


  8. On May 9th, 2011 at 5:30 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Delana.

    I can tell you that changing that picture of my girls to a more recent was a stark reminder of how much they've grown. Sure, I see them everyday and I know rationally that they're no longer those little tykes that I saw looking out at me from that picture frame. However, changing that picture got me to truly appreciate this reality; of taking the time to recognize the passage of time since then and all the amazing things they've done since then. One thing every parent of older kids tells me is to enjoy my girls because kids grow up so fast.

    I think this same message should be taken to heart by everyone – that if we preoccupy our time with simply getting those tasks checked off on our To-Do list, and not really taking stock of how it impacts or leads us to our goal, we can start to lose sight of how far we've come and how much we've accomplished. Those are important things to note and celebrate because they do help us to appreciate how valuable attaining that goal is.

    Thanks again, Delena, for sharing your thoughts on this. I appreciate your sharing your experience with this.

  9. On May 10th, 2011 at 6:41 AM Amanda Martin said:

    Hi Tanveer

    As always a wonderful reflection by you. I love the level of awareness that you bring to your blog writing and thinking.

    I’ve been fairly “off” in writing my blog lately, feeling uncreative, and that I
    “should do” stuff.

    After a wonderful session with someone I coach today, where I said something about the potential to reduce perfectionism through focusing on what is possible right now instead of what she should do, I had light bulb moment. I’m going to shift my thinking to being a bit more in the moment and less on what I should be doing in building my online brand.

    Thanks so much again and I think you’ve just given me the push I needed.


  10. On May 10th, 2011 at 1:25 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi Amanda,

    First off, thank you so much for the kind words about my writing. It's always gratifying to know others are not only enjoying, but benefiting from the ideas I share and the insights/conversations they spur on.

    It's interesting to note how many times the biggest challenge or obstacle we face arising from our own perceptions or expectations regarding our abilities or what we want to accomplish. This is where the value of building these white spaces comes into play because it allows us to take a breath and examine what's our motivation, our purpose behind doing a particular task; of answering the question of how it will help us move closer to reaching that goal we set out for ourselves.

    In any case, I'm delighted to hear, Amanda, not only how much you enjoyed this piece, but also how it's helped you find that perspective you need to press ahead with your goals.

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