If You Are Living In The Middle East, Become Part Of It - Gulf Business
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If You Are Living In The Middle East, Become Part Of It

If You Are Living In The Middle East, Become Part Of It

It’s time to stop using the phrase “here in the region” negatively, writes Tommy Weir, the author of ’10 Tips For Leadership In The Middle East’.

I don’t understand why it is so easy for “outsiders” to swoop in and complain about the way things are done “here in the region”. In the larger picture, it is just plain rude.

But even on the practical level, isn’t every one who lives and works here part of the region? It is incredibly frustrating and insulting when outsiders, having made the region their temporary, sometimes even permanent, home, speak negatively about it.

You’re probably wondering what has got me so upset and why I am rambling about it? Well, let me tell you a story.

On behalf of CEOs, I regularly interview prospective members of their executive teams to help discover what type of leaders they will be.

Recently, in one of those interviews, I listened to a prospect make continual references to “here in the region”. Each time he said those words, I cringed hearing a glow of business supremacy. You could sense the distaste and negativity rolling from his tongue.

I wish this were the first time I experienced that. Such words are now commonplace during dinners, in conversations between friends, in office walkways and cubicles, and even boardrooms.

You may be thinking everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and they are, but that doesn’t remove the reality that opinion often reveals behaviour.

His demonstration of supremacy and willingness to blame something that is out of his control is a sneak peak into his leadership style.

While I won’t get into interviewing techniques and how to make this link, I would like to point out that the stories that are told and words that are used reveal the inner workings of a leader. And they almost always manifest themselves in the boardroom.

The question I have for you is, “If you work in a firm, are part of the leadership team, and things are not perfect, are you part of it or separate from it?”

It is tempting to want to separate self-proclaimed good behaviour from your team’s bad actions. But you cannot escape the team’s identity even if you try. You are a part of it. And as long as you are, it is your identity. You are wearing the stripes, the colours of the team’s corporate jersey.

The same holds true at a societal level – if you chose to live and work here, you are part of the region. So when you criticise, hold up a mirror.

What do things have to be like for you to say “here in the region” without a negative undertone? When I look out the window and walk the streets, things are pretty darn good.

While researching for my next book, Leadership Dubai Style, I found that Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who ruled from 1958 to 1990, was known for supporting people who supported his vision for Dubai.

But there was also an unspoken encouragment of those who didn’t, to find a future elsewhere. Dubai is much larger today, and it would be cumbersome to send the moving truck to everyone’s house who says “here in the region” negatively. But what we need to do is focus on the spirit of Sheikh Rashid’s actions – to help people support the vision and to embrace life here.

As a leader at the societal level, in a family or a corporate corridor, you need to shift the “here in the region” from meaning something negative to a badge of honour as we are accomplishing a lot in this region.


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