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Tommy Weir: The Dubai School Of Motivation

Tommy Weir: The Dubai School Of Motivation

The public declaration is a motivational approach unique to the UAE, which invokes honour, the backbone quality of the region, writes the author of ’10 Tips For Leadership In The Middle East’.

Public declarations are a form of “honourable” motivation – an approach that is based on using the regional concept of honour
and shame. Just consider the recent announcement of the “Mall of the World”.

While there is no doubt that this is an opportunity to share the exciting news of Dubai’s future growth with the world, a public announcement also sends a clear message to deliver.

I have spent the past two years researching for my next book, Leadership Dubai Style, where I set out to discover the leadership essence or the “secret sauce” that has led to Dubai’s continued growth and success over the past century.

One of the recurring themes that I have come across in this search is that of public declarations, which is when the boss – the mudir or leader – makes a public statement about what will be accomplished.

Because of this happening in a forum where others are aware of the expectations, it invokes a sense of honourable duty to deliver.

Public declarations are not a new leadership practice. As an example, in the 1940s, Sheikh Rashid, Dubai’s current ruler’s father, publically announced the best-known project of the era – the development of Dubai’s Creek.

The local newspaper reported, “The activity was non-stop. For every Rs. 50,000 from custom dues, he (Sheikh Rashid) would start another project costing six million.” When he announced these projects openly, he was evoking the future honour of those who were entrusted to deliver each.

The practice of public declaration continued over the decades with the only major changes being how they were made public.

In the 1940s, the new school and hospital were announced in the intimacy of the Majlis. Today, global media covers the broadcast of these mega-projects.

No matter what the format of announcement is; the principal remains the same – now that the public is aware, we are all watching to see you deliver.

The practice of public declaration is however not reserved only for the royal family. Leaders across Dubai’s economy understand it and use it wisely.

A recent example was the public announcement of Burj 2020 by Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (MCC).

Given this public announcement, all eyes are on the DMCC team to deliver the tallest commercial tower in the world.

These announcements are not sudden surprises coming as a shock to those who are expected to deliver them. Generally, they are well thought through and planned accordingly. The public declaration is an announcement to the broader community.

In the case of “Mall of the World” this July, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, unveiled what will become the world’s largest shopping mall – expecting to welcome 180 million visitors annually.

While this is exciting, it is clear that he is expecting Dubai Holding to deliver.

Not only is Dubai Holding representing its own performance character – the cognitive, emotional, and behavioural disposition needed to achieve excellence in performance – it is now also reflecting His Highness and all of Dubai’s credibility.

Honour, the perceived attribute of worthiness and respectability that affects both social standing and self-evaluation, is a backbone quality across the region.

Standing juxtaposed to honour is shame, which is to be avoided at all costs. The social repercussion of violating a social value spreads beyond the individual and affects all who are connected. Shame arises when one’s defects are exposed to others; in the case of a public declaration, a defect is easily detected.

If I were to translate this practice into corporate leadership, it is simply the practice of making everyone’s performance objectives public.

The honour method of motivation says that because it is announced to others and they are depending on you, you will deliver because it is the honourable action and you want to avoid shame.

I guess you can say, “Announce it and they will do it”.

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