I am very confident in Dubai and our future. Before I explain why I feel this way, it may be worth highlighting why this opinion matters. Is this just another coffee shop opinion where people take sides as if betting on a sports team? I certainly hope not.
Deep into the research phase for my next book Leadership: Dubai Style (due for publication in 2014) and having completed around a quarter of the 250 qualitative interviews, it has built my confidence for our future. Listening to the patriarchs of the business community share insights about how Dubai became what it is today should give each of us confidence in the future. My confidence about Dubai today and its future tomorrow comes from its history.
Here are a couple of highlights from Leadership: Dubai Style that should build everyone’s confidence:
An obvious response when speaking of leadership success and confidence in Dubai is the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and even the vision of his father, HH Sheikh Rashid. For me, this clear direction is only the starting point; my real confidence is from the DNA of Dubai that turned the vision into reality.
Dubai is an open city with a trade mentality. This is not a new strategic direction — it is the core, the heart, of Dubai. From Dubai’s earliest days, the Maktoums opened their shores and desert pathways to welcome outsiders into the fold. Long before the discovery of oil, Dubai was attracting business leaders and traders to bring their ideas, goods and expertise to contribute to building the future of Dubai.
Closely related to a spirit of openness is the theme of mutual success. It quickly becomes clear in Dubai that there is room for anyone and everyone to succeed. Not just room for it, it is encouraged. For decades people have been following Dubai into uncharted territory.
The ruler and other leaders cheer for success for all citizens and residents to achieve. It is humbling to sense that they realise by creating an environment for others to succeed, it will lead to Dubai’s success.
With this opportunity for anyone and everyone to succeed, comes a healthy, but not unreasonable, risk tolerance. What is perceived as risky outside of Dubai and holds others back is not here. This risk tolerance is essential to the environment of success and evident in decisions taken by nearly every leader that make absolutely no sense to the ill informed, but have proven to be the right decision.
Going through several periods of “tough times” has created a “it has to be done” mentality. There was no choice in the early days when the crises hit and they were severe. Having the back up against the wall created a habit to take risk to pursue success. It is important to note that the mindset was not to survive, it was to succeed.
For the naysayers of the world, you can spend time finding what you don’t like. But as a leadership specialist, I must admit I am impressed. I am impressed with how Dubai repeatedly has come through darker days in its past to achieve success again and again. That is a mark of true leadership, the kind to have confidence in.