What’s going on in your organization? Are you aware of your team’s thoughts and insights? Are you aware of how they perceive your organization, what’s being done well, and what needs improvement? Unfortunately, many leaders are deaf to their employees’ needs; and according to Tanveer Naseer, Principal and Founder of Tanveer Naseer Leadership, that can have a very negative impact. John Mattone recently spoke with Tanveer to learn more.
How can leaders and executives help to nurture team-building competencies?
- It’s important that leaders recognize what kind of conditions employees will be expected to work in. There’s a natural tendency to build teams using people we have a great ease collaborating with, but we also have to recognize the demands and expectations that will be placed on the team and think about whether the people we choose can thrive under those demands.
- Make sure you’re providing for the different needs of those on your team. Again, it’s easy to look within our organizations and hand pick our top performers, but we need to recognize that the conditions that allowed them to succeed elsewhere might not be present a new team environment. You have to make sure you’re looking out for what your team members need from you to succeed, and to be open to being challenged and stretched.
- Make sure you’re not just focusing on building the strengths of a few key players. Instead, help to develop and build the strengths of every member of the team. In almost every sport, you can find examples of teams where the focus was put on a few key players at the expense of developing others. We soon see the folly of that strategy when a player gets injured or leaves one team to join another.
- Remember that there’s a reason why each of your team members is pitching in. We have to make sure that each of them is given the opportunity to not only deliver their best, but to become stronger contributors to our organizations in the process.
- Understand that it’s a never-ending process. There is always an opportunity to help your team grow, evolve, or become more valued as a part of your organization.
What are some common obstacles or misconceptions you’ve encountered that have a negative impact on the companies and their cultures?
Nothing has a negative impact like when leaders think they know everything they need to know to move their organization forward. On the one hand, you have many leaders who openly admit that they can’t keep track of everything that’s going on, not only because of the fast pace of today’s interconnected, global market, but also because of the growing demands they face on their time, attention, and resources. Still, many leaders are failing to communicate more with their employees and are also failing to ask the necessary questions to understand what’s really going on in their organizations.
Can you provide a specific example?
I remember speaking at one organization where the CEO came over to me and told me how grateful he was that he didn’t have to address many of the issues I’d discussed. He was convinced that under his leadership, he had already solved many of those problems. As soon as he left the room, several of his employees came up to me and said how frustrated they were that their CEO hadn’t paid more attention to my talk because those were the exact problems they were facing under his leadership.
What steps do you take with leaders to reprogram those misconceptions?
- I first invite leaders to ask themselves, “How can I become more like the leader my employees need me to be?” The great thing about a question like this is that it’s not recriminatory. It’s not about what you’re doing wrong or what makes you a bad leader. Instead, it’s about trying to figure out how to be better than we are today.
- I emphasize that we must actively listen to those we lead. Actively listening isn’t about parroting back what’s being said. It’s about increasing our observations of those around us and their environment. In other words, we want to reignite our innate sense of curiosity in order to understand what those around us are trying to say in their words, actions, and behaviors.
All of this is about recognizing that it’s not about you, but about what are you doing to bring out the best in those you lead. How are you demonstrating to them that you value their knowledge, insights, and experiences? Ultimately, it’s their collective insight and experience that are going to be critical to your organization’s long-term growth and prosperity.