My Top 10 Leadership Insights For 2014


As I look back at the past 12 months, there’s no question that this has definitely been a milestone year for me. Not only did 2014 mark five years that I’ve been writing online for this blog, but this was also the year I finally added “author” to my list of credentials with the release of my first leadership book, “Leadership Vertigo”.

A milestone that I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to celebrate here on my blog with the help of such leadership luminaries as Doug Conant, Liz Wiseman, Jim Kouzes, Barry Posner, and David Burkus.

Also noteworthy this year was the numerous leadership awards and recognitions I’ve received, most notably being recognized by Inc Magazine both as one of their “Top 100 Leadership and Management Experts”, and just a few weeks ago as one of “100 Great Leadership Speakers”. Indeed, this has certainly been for me a phenomenal year of growth, change, and evolution, and one which will certainly set the foundation for what lies ahead.

But before we say goodbye to 2014, allow me to share with you my Top 10 Leadership Insights from this year as selected by you, the readers of my award-winning leadership blog. These 10 leadership insights proved to be most popular based on the total number of social shares the respective pieces had.

Of course, instead of simply providing you with a list, I’d like to share with you this series of quotes gleaned from my writings in the hopes that it will both remind you of what was shared this year, as well as inspire you to recognize the opportunities to be found in this new year for us to show up and truly be the kind of leader that fuels the success and long-term prosperity of our organizations and community.


Leadership insight #10:

We all want to feel useful; to know that we bring value to a purpose that’s bigger than ourselves. [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]

“Over the course of the past decade, we’ve come to learn that to motivate our employees through fear or incentives is not sustainable. That if we really want to achieve the kind of successes and achievements of those organizations and leaders we admire, we need our employees to care about our vision as much as we do.

And yet, what we often fail to act on is the fact that if we want our employees to be fully engaged in the shared purpose that defines our organization, we need to first start with ourselves. We need to exude and exemplify in our own unique way the passion and excitement we have for the future we want our employees to help us to create.”

Read more on this leadership insight here: Are You Creating Value Through Your Leadership?


Leadership insight #9:

To improve agility, we need to strengthen our curiosity, which requires making time from work routines. [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]

“There’s also the added benefit for how using our vacation time to focus on our other interests can help us to flex our creativity muscles, enabling us to discover new ideas and opportunities that we can look into exploring when we return to work. Indeed, a recent survey of 1 000 small business owners by the UK consultancy firm Sandler Training found that one in five entrepreneurs came up with their startup idea while they were on vacation.

And this makes a lot of sense when we consider that when we’re on vacation, we’re more open to trying out new experiences, new foods, and new environments, as well as engaging with new people. Each of these initiatives can encourage our brain to build new cognitive pathways that will help us to connect seemingly unrelated concepts using a neurological mechanism called “global processing”, a process that often leads to those ‘A-ha!’ moments that precede unique discoveries or innovations.”

Read more on this leadership insight here: How Vacation Time Can Make You A Better Leader.


Leadership insight #8:

It’s only when we think that we can do better that we are driven to make things better. [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]

“Unfortunately, in so many circles of modern day life – both in the public arena and in the private sector – we’ve collectively become resigned to think that such change or to have such expectations of those in charge is unrealistic or unattainable.

And yet, if we are to truly live up to the potential that’s out there, if we are to benefit from the foundation that previous generations have created for us to build our present and future on, then we need to expect more of those who step forward to lead us.

We need to expect more of ourselves as well, of what we’re willing to commit of ourselves to make such visions a reality, both for ourselves and for future generations.”

Read more on this leadership insight here: Why Leadership Should Be Hard.


Leadership insight #7:

Leadership is a learning process that never ends; you’ll never be at a point where you can say you’ve learned it all. [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]

“As with any long-term initiative, it’s inevitable that we’ll face obstacles or forks in the road where we have to re-evaluate our approach going forward. In those moments, it’s easy for us to resist the forces of change, insisting on sticking to what we know. And it’s here where we can begin to appreciate the differences in being persistent instead of being stubborn.

By being stubborn, we close ourselves off to new understandings, new realities, and even new opportunities. Persistence, on the other hand, allows us to be malleable to discovery and learning from these new insights, while at the same time being resilient in achieving our shared purpose.

By being persistent, we’re able to see obstacles and challenges as opportunities to learn and evolve; to find new avenues where we can become stronger and do a better job serving those under our care.”

Read more on this leadership insight here: 3 Personal Lessons On How To Succeed At Leadership.


Leadership insight #6:
We must ensure that our employees feel included; that their voice counts and matters to us. [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]

“In several cases, I noted how problems arose not simply because team members disagreed on a particular point or issue, but because they were operating from different perspectives of what they should be expected to do, and what they saw as being their team mates’ responsibility to address.

This lack of clarity in expectations made it difficult for everyone in the team to accept responsibility for what needed to be done, which naturally lead to finger-pointing instead of problem-solving when something invariably went wrong.”

Read more on this leadership insight here: How Leaders Promote Collaborative Environment.


Leadership insight #5:

An organization’s success relies on employees being enabled to learn from their collective experiences. [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]

“We have to consistently demonstrate to our employees that in pushing the boundaries to learn and explore, we know that things won’t always work out, but that this is part of the learning process.

Again, the importance of this can best be appreciated when we consider how our brain operates. One of the things that we’re all hard-wired to do is to pay more attention to the things we perceive as being negative. As a protective measure, this neurological mechanism makes a lot of sense in how it helps to keep us out of harm’s way.

Unfortunately, it’s this same neurological mechanism that can make our employees not only avoid failure, but it can actually increase their stress levels because our brain is looking out to avoid any situation where we might fail. And naturally, when we’re focused more on avoiding failure, it’s harder for us to be more open to learning.”

Read more on this leadership insight here: How To Promote Continuous Learning In Your Organization.


Leadership insight #4:

Successful leaders treat those they lead as individuals who they strive to build relationships with. [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]

In order to foster and sustain these relationships means we have to move beyond our current narrow scope; that we move beyond the generalities we see being shared over and over on how to handle the different generations in the workplace and instead, make intentional our effort to connect with those we serve at a deep, emotional level.

Granted, many will dismiss this as unrealistic given the increasing demands for our time, attention, and resources. After all, how can we possibly expect to build relationships when the only thing we’re being judged on as leaders is our ability to deliver results?

Read more on this leadership insight here: Revealing The Secret To Successful Leadership.


Leadership insight #3:

A genuine compromise requires that we create solutions where both parties end up as equal winners. [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]

“In our rush to get things done, it can be easy to simply demand or put expectations on others that will help to make things easier for us so we can deal with what we see as more pressing issues. However, if we want to tap into the discretionary effort of our employees, we need to make sure that we are creating taarradhin, where our employees see that they are not only creating value for our organization and for those we serve, but for themselves as well.

In other words, we need to create a vision and shared purpose where the needs of our employees and our organization are not in competition with one another, but serve to uplift and fuel one another.”

Read more on this leadership insight here: The Language Of Leadership.


Leadership insight #2:

Leadership is not about you; it’s about the people you serve. [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]

“This is especially important for us to take note of in light of the fact that in order for organizations to become more adaptive and innovative, we need to recognize that the teams we create should no longer be seen as static constructs, but as fluid ones that need to evolve and adjust to reflect the changing needs of our organization going forward.

And that’s what successful leaders understand – that our ability to create teams that succeed and thrive is dependent on fostering an environment where our employees are compelled to do their best work. That we create the right conditions for our employees to not only believe in our leadership and vision, but in the value and importance of what they do, and why it matters both for our organization and for themselves.”

Read more on this leadership insight here: How Successful Leaders Build Teams That Thrive.


And here now is the top leadership insight I shared this year, which comes from the piece I wrote for the month-long celebration of the release of my first leadership book:


Leadership insight #1:

Our compassion arises from our innate curiosity to listen, learn, and relate to those around us. [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]

“We have to remember that in today’s 24/7, global environment where changes and adaptations are happening at an accelerated rate, it’s impossible for anyone to truly know or understand the complexities of what our organization has to address or overcome.

And this truth doesn’t diminish our ability to lead, but it strengthens it because we can shift our focus away from ourselves – from proving we have what it takes to be in a leadership role – out to those we lead and how we can help them achieve the goals we set out for our organization.

This is why compassion is so critical to leadership today because it’s not in amassing accolades and titles that we succeed as leaders, but because we create an environment where we inspire and enable those around us to bring their best selves to the table so we can collectively succeed and grow.”

Read more on this leadership insight here: Compassion – A Cornerstone In Today’s Leadership.


I hope you enjoyed reading my Top 10 Leadership Insights for 2014. I look forward to sharing with you many more of my ideas and insights on leadership ideas in 2015, and in the years to come.

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Tanveer Naseer is an award-winning and internationally-acclaimed leadership writer and keynote speaker. He is also the Principal and Founder of Tanveer Naseer Leadership, a leadership coaching firm that works with executives and managers to help them develop practical leadership and team-building competencies to guide organizational growth and development. Tanveer’s writings and insights on leadership and workplace interactions have been featured in a number of prominent media and organization publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, Inc Magazine, Canada’s national newspaper “The Globe and Mail”, The Economist Executive Education Navigator, and the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

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