Tanveer Naseer is the principal and founder of Tanveer Naseer Leadership, a leadership coaching firm that works with managers and executives to help them develop leadership and team-building competencies to guide organizational growth and development while ensuring they remain focused on what creates a fulfilling sense of purpose in what they do. Tanveer also writes for his own blog as well as contributes articles to such organizations and publications as The Globe and Mail, Human Capital Institute (HCI), American Management Association (AMA), and Hallmark Business Connections, and he also shares his thoughts on Twitter with the username @TanveerNaseer.
Joey Baird, Sage HRMS: You are one of the top recognized bloggers and thought leaders on leadership in today’s workplace. What do you feel are the biggest issues facing leadership in the workplace today?
Tanveer Naseer: The biggest issue in the workplace today is the lack of communication. The key to communication involves engagement, recognition, innovation, and the ability to tie all of these aspects together. I’ve never heard of someone complaining that his manager communicated too much. Today’s business leaders have lost the art of active listening, which is a building block of clear communication.
The team members on the front lines of the business are the ones who receive feedback from customers and clients, and by engaging these employees, leaders can gain key insights about customer needs and wants. This does not happen enough, and as a result leaders are somewhat out of touch. By giving employees recognition for these insights, they feel empowered and inspired. Empowered people think outside the box and become more innovative.
Can you take a moment to explain the difference between a leader and a manager?
I agree with much of the work John Kotter has done in this area. Like him, I believe management is process and task oriented. Management focuses on things like budgeting, staffing, goal setting, strategizing and developing metrics. Management is a position, and managers need that role in order to carry out their tasks.
Leadership is about working with people. Leaders develop the message, the vision for the organization; they help people answer the question “Why is this important, and why does it matter beyond a paycheck?” Additionally, leadership is not positional. Leaders can drive ideas forward and influence others while they occupy many different positions.
Can a person be both a leader and manager?
You have to have a good understanding of management processes to become a good leader. A good leader understands how the business is run and relates that into goals for their team. A good manager understands what matters to the employees and how to relate the processes to them in a way that makes them become invested in the processes. The best manager understands how to lead, and the best leader understands how to run the business.
A number of business leaders say it is important to have a mentor. What are your thoughts on mentorship? What should one keep in mind when looking for a mentor?
Mentorship is only as valuable as what you put into it. The real challenge is how you select a mentor. When looking for a mentor, you should look for someone who has the life experiences, organizational culture, and values similar to yours. A proper mentorship allows you to learn from their experiences (accomplishments and mistakes) and then implement them into your own style.
Many executives say they are focusing on trying to speed up the leadership development process at their organization. Why is leadership development so important for the future of business?
Things in today’s business world change rapidly. What we know today may not be relevant six years or even six months from now. A good leader stays on top of these changes and can adapt and then relate them to their team. Leadership development is a never-ending process that takes commitment. A good leader sees this and understands that his or her leadership development is not a finite term and continues to adapt and change with the needs of the business world. Without good leadership employees are less willing to buy into the company vision; thus, they become complacent and less productive.
How does good leadership affect the company’s bottom line?
Fundamentally good leadership means you help employees succeed. When employees succeed, the organization succeeds, and the outcomes are usually things like increased profitability and improved market share. Effective leadership is the key to the enduring success of a company because great leaders communicate to stakeholders that short-term sacrifices will lead to long-run improvements.
What are the top traits of a good leader?
Communication, engagement, respect, and trust. These traits create a willingness from their team to follow and gather around a common cause.
A good leader is also inquisitive. Good leaders know they do not have all answers but are willing to ask and find those answers from those whom they lead. They encourage their teams to challenge themselves and to continuously look for ways to improve. Good leaders trust that their employees have the right answers and empower their team to not only come up with solutions but to implement them.
We know that you have a background in science. How does your background in science help you today with coaching business in leadership?
You have to have the ability to observe what causes outcomes to happen and experiment with them. With science we experiment, observe, and study the outcomes. If an experiment fails, we try to learn why it failed and then communicate our findings to others. Nothing is relevant or correct unless others can see that they can replicate your results. These steps are also skills we see demonstrated in good leaders in today’s businesses.
You often tweet about gamification. What are your thoughts on gamification in the workplace, and how does it relate to leadership?
The term gamification elicits interesting feelings from people. Many people see it as something that is underhanded or scheming, because it sounds like someone is trying to “play” a person or trick them. I don’t look at gamification like that. I have a fascination with stripping away the notion of the game and look at the psychological issues behind the activity. I think we can learn a lot from how people make decisions and how they learn by viewing their activity with games.
I believe that moving forward, gamfication is going to become a tool leaders employ to assist in developing team skills, teach leadership techniques, and how teams and individuals can share those skill sets to empower other to succeed.
Can you give us your list of the most influential leaders of today and what we can learn from them?
For sure: I read and pay attention to the work of many leaders; here are a few I enjoy:
- Doug Conant, ex-CEO of Campbell Soup Company and author of The Action is in the Interaction.
- Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge.
- Bob Sutton, Stanford professor and author of Good Boss, Bad Boss and the blog “Work Matters.”
It is important that we gather our information from many sources and relate the experiences of others to our own story. This helps us frame ideas in a proper context.
Thanks for allowing us to interview you and learn more about your views on leadership in the workplace today!
No problem; I enjoyed it and am happy that you selected me for the interview.