Book Review: Effective Business In The Gulf By Nicolai Tillisch

The book offers a refreshingly honest insight into leadership practices in the GCC.

Anyone who has lived and worked in the Gulf for any period of time will find themselves nodding in agreement as they turn the pages of this compact and addictive book.

Tillisch masterfully binds together an electric how-to guide from the learnings of conversations with GCC-based business people and his own decades of experience as a high-level corporate executive in the region.

Unlike many business information books, Effective Business In The Gulf: Master leadership skills for greater success does not overstay its welcome and moves punchily from a quick history of the Gulf’s business landscape to the challenge of dealing with a multi-cultural workforce and how to best manage people in an oftentimes opaque and fast-growth environment.

What’s most unusual about this book is its unflinching honesty. You’d expect a Gulf-based business book to be laced with flattery and kowtow – it’s not. The message is clear: if you want to be a good leader, particularly in the GCC, you’d better be honest with yourself and others.

And when the environment is ambiguous, clear communication with your direct reports is a must or you will fail.

“I am surprised and sorry to admit that I have become more prejudiced after working in the Gulf for some years,” one senior leader tells Tillisch. The author notes that leaders often hire from their own nationality groups, which can create hostile cliques. One solution is to hire a balanced team from different countries, says Tillisch.

As well as offering tips for managing multicultural teams, the author provides valuable insights into doing business with GCC Arabs. One etiquette slip can – and has – lost international megadeals.

Tillisch finishes the book with a series of interactive chapters on how to assemble your own personal leadership values and act on them.

Amid dishing out some hard facts on the region, it’s clear that the Danish author has retained a certain wide-eyed respect for the GCC. “With its hundreds of different nationalities, the Gulf has accomplished what wasn’t possible at the Tower of Babel,” he writes, “…despite the many horror stories about each other, you should acknowledge who owns most of the wealth, as well as who makes everything run. Respect is a good starting point for success.”

Effective Business In The Gulf can be purchased from Motivate.

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