Does our lead­er­ship style create bet­ter team­work?

Lon­don Busi­ness School's Aca­demic Di­rec­tor of their Lead­er­ship In­sti­tute thinks it does

Middle East Business (English) - - NEWS -

Ac­cord­ing to Ran­dall S Peter­son, Pro­fes­sor of Or­gan­i­sa­tional Be­hav­iour and Aca­demic Di­rec­tor of the Lead­er­ship In­sti­tute at Lon­don Busi­ness School, it’s im­por­tant to in­vest time in build­ing busi­ness re­la­tion­ships - es­pe­cially so in the Mid­dle East. Al­though busi­ness cus­toms can vary slightly from coun­try to coun­try in the re­gion, lead­ers are ex­pected to be and tend to be ac­ces­si­ble, with a widely-adopted open-door ap­proach in the Arab busi­ness world, Pro­fes­sor Peter­son’s re­search has found.

For ex­am­ple, in the UAE, 80% of the pop­u­la­tion are ex­pa­tri­ates with large groups of Euro­peans, Asian Mus­lims, as well as peo­ple from around the Arab re­gion. “The na­ture of the di­verse and mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety means that many in­ter­na­tional busi­ness lead­ers can run their or­gan­i­sa­tions with­out fully un­der­stand­ing lo­cal cus­toms and val­ues, but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try. Arab Mid­dle Eastern cul­ture is rooted in trust. Peo­ple are gen­er­ally guided by tenets of the Qu­ran: they re­spect their cul­ture, up­hold their tra­di­tions and value re­la­tion­ships.” Based on his on-go­ing re­search and in-depth in­ter­views with busi­ness lead­ers in the Mid­dle East, Pro­fes­sor Peter­son iden­ti­fies five key ways that busi­ness lead­ers across the globe can learn from Arab lead­er­ship styles:

Lead­ers shaped by cul­ture

Re­search shows that the Mid­dle East is high in “power dis­tance”, where power be­tween lead­ers and their team mem­bers is of­ten dis­trib­uted un­equally, mean­ing once a leader has taken a de­ci­sion the mem­bers are ex­pected to im­ple­ment faith­fully. Lead­ers in high-power dis­tance cul­tures have more power than their low-power dis­tance coun­ter­parts, where team mem­bers ex­pect to help set the agenda and have di­rect in­flu­ence on the fi­nal de­ci­sion – which can make it dif­fi­cult for lead­ers to co-or­di­nate views.

Build trust on a foun­da­tion of ex­cel­lence

Trust is a uni­ver­sal im­per­a­tive for good work­ing re­la­tion­ships no mat­ter where you work, and not unique to teams in the Mid­dle East. How­ever, hon­our is also im­por­tant. One busi­ness leader in­ter­viewed as part of Pro­fes­sor Peter­son’s re­search said that Is­lam pro­moted “sin­cer­ity and ex­cel­lence”, which en­cour­aged his team to pro­duce high-qual­ity work.

Ev­ery­one has a pur­pose and a role

An­other in­ter­vie­wee likened a team to a body. “If one part aches be­cause of an ail­ment, the rest of the body feels the pain. If it weak­ens from one side, it is strength­ened by the other.” This metaphor rings true through­out team dy­nam­ics in the Mid­dle East. Trust and clear goals en­cour­age team mem­bers to chal­lenge and ad­vise their su­pe­ri­ors at ap­pro­pri­ate times. One com­mon mis­un­der­stand­ing about the re­gion is that work­ers must “blindly” fol­low lead­ers. By tra­di­tion, fol­low­ers are ex­pected to com­ply with leader de­ci­sions, but lead­ers are ex­pected to gen­uinely con­sult with their teams be­fore de­ci­sions are taken.

Open-door cul­ture

Arab lead­ers can gen­er­ally be called on at any time and they of­ten es­tab­lish open and per­sonal re­la­tion­ships with em­ploy­ees by in­tro­duc­ing open-door poli­cies. But that doesn’t mean hold­ing a team up to the light and ex­pect­ing to see straight through them: con­flict is in­evitable. It’s hu­man na­ture to dis­agree. If em­ploy­ees sup­press their true opin­ions it “kills the work” de­clared one leader.

Bal­ance con­sult­ing with de­ci­sion-mak­ing

It’s a re­li­gious and mo­ral obli­ga­tion for lead­ers in the Mid­dle East to con­sult their peo­ple be­fore ex­er­cis­ing power. Choices are made ir­re­spec­tive of per­sonal opin­ions; they are made for the good of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. It seems man­agers in the Mid­dle East make choices based on ex­cel­lence and com­mon good, so af­ter tak­ing on sub­or­di­nates’ per­spec­tives, their de­ci­sion stands. “But of course, when you throw dif­fer­ent cul­tures into the mix, the ad­vice for lead­ers and their teams is dif­fer­ent again,” says Pro­fes­sor Peter­son. “That’s the cul­tural di­ver­sity chal­lenge.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Palestine

© PressReader. All rights reserved.