Hey hey! Welcome to another episode of The Bullpen Sessions! I’m super pumped for you all to hear from my awesome guest today. She’s going to give you some life-changing advice for running a successful business and being an effective leader. 

Today, I’m happy to bring you Nada Nasserdeen. Nada’s experience in managing employees and improving work environments will greatly help give your business during this difficult time of COVID-19. Nada recognizes the importance of human connections in running your business, and her advice for how you can develop a positive work culture and become a successful leader will completely change your life!

In this interview, we discuss the fundamentals of developing emotional intelligence in order to develop your skills at leading people and increasing team productivity. We also discuss Nada’s emotionally challenging journey in starting her business, and how you can use difficult moments in your life to fuel your personal growth! Without further ado, let’s get started! 

Who Is Nada Nasserdeen?

Nada is the founder of Rise Up For You an organization that helps companies strengthen their cultural environments to enhance the performance of their workers. She gave an incredibly enlightening TEDx talk on transforming work environments back in January! Nada is also a certified confidence coach, a corporate trainer, and was formerly a college professor at The Young Americans College of Performing Arts. Nada also has a performance background; she sang and danced in more than 20 different countries.

In addition to Nada’s many skills and experiences, she also worked as an executive at the age of 27 at Encore Education Corporation, where she managed over 200 employees. Nada also recently released her first book Rise Up For You: Closing the Gap Between You and Your Potential, which is all about shifting your mindset and tapping into your full potential. 

Nada’s abundant leadership experiences have made her a master at developing leadership skills and cultivating a positive work culture. Her philosophy is all about company leaders treating people like people rather than just workers. She stresses the importance of establishing human connections between leaders and their staff in order to create a positive work environment and increase productivity. 

Nada has a great deal of applicable advice for improving your leadership skills and developing emotional intelligence, so grab a pen and a piece of paper and strap in!

Being a Good Leader in the New Normal

An essential part of your business succeeding during COVID-19 is establishing strong human connections. The companies that are going to survive the shifting work climate are those that focus on the well-being of their employees. Two major components for the well-being of your employees are leadership and work culture.  

Nada observed that many work problems plaguing companies during COVID-19 were already present before the pandemic:

“Some of the companies and even the ones that we work with [at Rise Up For You] if they didn’t have a positive culture beforehand, or things were starting to fall apart, then they really fell apart once COVID hit. But if they did have a positive culture or if they did things with their team, like team engagement and development, then COVID just brought them together more.” – Nada Nasserdeen

COVID-19 magnified the work dynamic within companies, so those who were having issues with their work culture are now suffering greater issues of division, and those who cultivated a positive foundation are being brought closer together by the crisis. It makes sense, right? Hard times either bring people together or they drive them apart. This is why companies need to focus on the well-being of their employees now more than ever:

“The companies that are surviving right now are the ones that are people-centered, meaning that they understand that their product and the efficiency of their company is very, very heavily dependent on the people. … [People] have feelings, they go through health issues, they have families, there [are] all these things that are happening along with their career. And so the more that we can help them build these essential tools and communication and efficiency and time management and productivity, the more they’re going to be able to manage their career, the more they’re going to be able to be their best in the company.” – Nada Nasserdeen

Focusing on the well-being of your employees makes them more productive! If people feel appreciated, valued, and cared for, they are more likely to work more efficiently and produce better work. When companies remember to serve their individual employees’ needs, they ultimately produce better results.

Nada also recommends being incredibly transparent and trustworthy with your employees, especially during a crisis:

“One of the biggest things that we’re seeing right now is a lack of transparency as a leader. Your team trusts you more, and they build relationships, and they connect you more when you say, ‘As a leader, I’ve never been through this. … So I’m doing my best to figure these things out with you. Be patient with me.’… It’s just having that vulnerability and that transparency as a leader that’s really important. Because again, we have to remember on the flip side now, like as employees, that our leaders are also people.” – Nada Nasserdeen 

Both employees and leaders need to remember that everyone is going through an unprecedented crisis. The pandemic didn’t fit into anyone’s business plans, so everyone is figuring out how to be their best in this new “normal.” Both employees and leaders need to be patient and empathetic with one another to address their company’s best course of action moving forward! 

The Pillars of Emotional Intelligence

Another key to leading effectively in a crisis is emotional intelligence. Leaders lead by example, so if they’re not handling a crisis well, their employees will follow suit. If a leader isn’t handling the stress well, it will inevitably trickle down to their employees. 

“The leaders that don’t have high emotional intelligence, you’re gonna see them react faster [and] make decisions that are irrational. … Emotional intelligence is so important because leaders have to have it in order to pass it on.” – Nada Nasserdeen

Developing emotional intelligence is essential for operating and adapting your business during a crisis. 

Nada expertly broke down the four pillars of emotional intelligence: Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. It is absolutely essential for you to have all four to lead your business effectively. Each pillar has 18 competencies. We didn’t dive into every competency in the interview, but I encourage you to research the subject yourself to develop these pillars further!  

The first pillar is developing self-awareness. Even though self-awareness sounds self-explanatory, major competencies fall into this category that you need to be aware of:

“Having self-confidence, understanding your emotions, being aware of your own emotions … and then having accurate self-assessment, meaning that the way you see yourself is actually the way that other people see yourself.” – Nada Nasserdeen

The second pillar is self-management. Self-management has to do with self-control, integrity, and motivation:

“How do I manage my stress? How do I manage the emotions that I have? But it’s also the internal motivation that I have.” – Nada Nasserdeen

This pillar is especially crucial during COVID-19 because many people are working remotely and with more autonomy. Your motivation needs to be internal rather than affected by your surroundings:

“Like, am I intrinsically motivated? Not because I go to work and make a paycheck. Not because I work in a cubicle with other team members. Not because of anything external. It’s just [that] you wake up in the morning, and you’re motivated to go. … What you do behind closed doors is what you do in public. You’re the same person.” – Nada Nasserdeen

A useful analogy Nada had for remembering self-awareness and self-management involved eating ice cream. Self-awareness is knowing that the ice cream is bad for you and will hurt your stomach while practicing self-management is having the ability to prevent yourself from eating it despite wanting to. 

The third pillar is social awareness. Social awareness involves understanding those around you: 

“This is empathy. Being able to understand other individuals, put yourself in their shoes, hear their perspective.” – Nada Nasserdeen

Empathy is such an essential tool for cultivating a positive relationship between leaders and employees. This pillar goes back to the discussion about being patient and empathetic during COVID-19. If leaders fail to be empathetic towards their employees, they’ll fail to meet their employees’ needs, and productivity will ultimately suffer.

Social awareness also has to do with understanding not only individuals but groups as a whole:  

“You can walk into a company, [or] you can walk on the playing field, or on stage in front of 10,000 people, and know how to read a room because you built that social awareness where you can feel the energy. … What’s the flavor of the space?” – Nada Nasserdeen

The fourth pillar is relationship management. Relationship management involves traits typically associated with leadership: 

“This is all things leadership. So this is coaching, mentorship, the ability to influence, the ability to be relatable, being solution-oriented, being able to manage conflict within a team.” – Nada Nasserdeen 

You may be wondering, “Where do I start?” Nada stresses the importance of doing the pillars in the order in which she listed them: 

“How can you coach and lead a team if you can’t coach and lead yourself? … But we also forget that as leaders, if we can’t manage ourselves and we’re not self-aware, then when a team member says something that triggers us as a leader, we’re going to respond back in an irrational way. … Or we might make decisions that aren’t healthy for the team or the company. … If we’re not self-aware, then we’re going to show up with our team in a way that’s not going to be healthy.” – Nada Nasserdeen

If you can’t properly manage yourself, you won’t be able to manage others. Nada described that in her experience as an executive, she struggled with the same thing. When she began managing employees, she skipped the first three pillars and went straight to attempting to mentor and manage her team. Because she didn’t put in the time to work on herself and empathize with her employees, she could not lead effectively.

What pillar do you need to develop to lead effectively? Maybe you need to work on yourself more and develop self-awareness and self-management, or maybe you need to take the time to empathize and understand the people around you. Remember though: You need to build all four pillars to become an effective leader.

Using Pain as Fuel for Growth 

Nada and I dove deep into discussing the mission of her company Rise Up For You and the origin of its founding. 

“We serve humanity through human skills. … Everything comes down to these human foundational skills which is confidence, emotional intelligence, the ability to lead, the ability to grow within yourself so that you can help others grow. … We go in, and we work with the company culture, and we help provide these skills for their team. Again, emotional intelligence, confidence, communication, [and] diversity inclusion.” – Nada Nasserdeen

Nada and her organization help companies develop a positive work culture and help people develop more effective leadership skills. 

Nada began Rise Up For You during an incredibly tumultuous period of her life. Nada had resigned from her executive position in order to move to Canada with her new husband. After only a couple of weeks, her husband decided that he no longer wanted to remain married. Nada was also still feeling the emotional effects of losing her father a few years earlier. 

She was devastated by her divorce and by her financial uncertainty, but on the plane ride back from Canada, she had an enlightening experience that paved the way for her starting her new company: 

“My father, who had passed away a few years earlier, … he came to me in the airplane, and he said, ‘Everything you need is already inside of you. You just have to rise up and do it.’ And it was in that moment that there was just like a light that went off in me that said, ‘Yeah, I mean, it’s true. Like this is a really crappy situation, but no one’s going to knock on the door and give me my job back. No, one’s going to knock on the door and heal my heart.'” – Nada Nasserdeen

Nada realized from her experience on the plane that you can push through any tragic event and use it as fuel for growth. She realized that the first step to getting her life in order was to work on herself. Difficult things happen to everyone, but you need to power through those moments and continue working on yourself:

“Life hits all of us. Life is not prejudiced. It doesn’t decide who’s going to get sick and who’s going to have heartbreak and who’s going to have death. We all have it at some point in our life. And the more we’re able to embrace it, even though it’s hard, … the more we’re going to be able to move forward. … And it’s the ones that understand that, ‘I’m going to take this and I’m going to use it as fuel,’ that end up on the other side that are better and then become better because of it.” – Nada Nasserdeen 

You are not exempt from experiencing hardships in your life. It’s not a question of if something bad will happen to you it’s a question of when, but you can get through those challenging moments and come out the other side as a better person! 

Why You Should Listen to This Nada Nasserdeen Podcast Episode Episode Right Now…

My interview with Nada Nasserdeen was so edifying. I highly recommend that you check out The Rise Up For You website and Nada’s new book Rise Up For You: Closing the Gap Between You and Your Potential. You can also connect with Nada on Linkedin and Twitter @RiseUpForYou

If you found this interview as helpful as I did, make sure to share this episode with someone else who will benefit from it! Post a screenshot of your biggest takeaways on Instagram, and tag me @andy_neary and Nada Nasserdeen @nadalena_rise

Remember, the key to running a successful business is people. Focus on the well-being of your team and develop your leadership abilities through growing in your emotional intelligence. You can do this, man! 

See you next time!

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