This paper entails an analysis of the concepts of leadership as shown by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The main objective of this analysis is to determine the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the leadership style and philosophy of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum and find out what future leaders can learn from him. Over the past two and half decades, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum has been leading the growth of aviation as well as developing investment strategies in support of the emirate’s development agenda. Sheikh Ahmed commenced his career in the aviation sector when he was appointed to head the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) in 1985. Since then, the DCA has experienced tremendous development leading to the emergence of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA). Apparently, Dubai is recognized as the region’s most admirable recreational destination. This aspect reflects the effective leadership that has been provided by Sheikh Ahmed for the last 25 years. However, this paper will argue and show that Sheikh Ahmed’s leadership has been exemplary based on the many challenges that he has overcome has a leader towards advancing the emirate’s overarching vision.
Leadership entails one’s ability and motivation to inspire and empower others. This type of a leader is termed as charismatic since s/he can transform and inspire people’s thinking and performance. According to Austin, leadership is earned through building trust and integrity within one’s area of operation (10). Sheikh Ahmed manifests leadership traits such as competence, open-minded, inspiring, and intelligent. The behavioral view of leadership suggests that anyone who manifests the desirable behavior has the potential to be an effective leader. Emirates Airline’s leadership under Sheikh can exercise democracy and ensure an environment that motivates and influences the performance of subordinates.
Leadership style and philosophy
When examining the leadership effectiveness and capability of Sheikh Ahmed, one can conclude that the effectiveness is manifested in the performance of the Emirates Airlines. What makes Sheikh stand out is his adherence in recognizing his philosophy in empowering others and investing in organizational learning. According to Daft, the growth of a certain organization is highly dependent on the leadership aspects and the desire to engage in professional learning (23). The most significant individual quality demonstrated by Sheikh Ahmed is credibility and the ability to engage people. This assertion implies that Sheikh is a charismatic leader. According to Bhat, Verma, and Barua, credibility is the basis of good leadership (348).
If other people develop trust in a leader, they tend to adhere to the leader’s style. This aspect is the foundation for affirming shared values within an organization. As the chairperson of the DCAA and the CEO of the Emirates Group, Sheikh Ahmed reckons the critical significance of leading by example. Sheikh always values the support of the people in decision-making and innovation. Sheikh is a leader who believes in showing people what to do rather than instructing them what to do. Leaders should always manifest the ability to defend their beliefs through action. Besides, they should manifest clear guiding principles and ensure that such principles are shared throughout the organization.
Sheikh has come out as a leader with own ideas and has always given voice to such ideas. Sheikh has manifested his ability to involve others in shared aspirations and has built shared values that all people can identify with in their lives. Consequently, under such humble foundations, Dubai International has advanced to compete at global levels with a widespread network of over 200 destinations served by a fleet of over 150 aircraft. Effective leaders like Sheikh realize that leadership is earned by respecting other people’s contributions as well as ensuring that their values and actions are consistent. For many years, Sheikh has chosen to model the way by depicting good organizational behavior, being readily available during times of consultations, helping workers accomplish critical tasks and asking questions to get workers to concentrate on priorities.
Emirates Airline under the leadership of Sheikh is striving to remain competitive by employing various management styles. The management style embraced by Sheikh reflects a combination of participatory and strategic management. Participatory management assists create an amicable relation between the top management and the subordinates. Exemplary leadership prioritizes a shared vision by setting goals and engaging others in a common direction (Winkler 44). Sheikh has always led a group of expertise towards projects that had never been attempted. Upon ascending to a leadership position, Sheikh sought to inspire his colleagues with the vision he had towards developing the emirate’s aviation sector. For example, this leadership approach to attempt new things became the way to success in fields that other leaders were unwilling to explore. Consequently, under Sheikh’s stewardship, Emirates Airline is globally recognized as the fastest growing passenger and cargo courier. This growth is hugely attributable to the ability of Sheikh to embrace collective efforts. Leaders can inspire commitment within workers only if they can learn and understand their worldview. Essentially, leaders carry the responsibility of forging unity of purpose by showing the team members that the vision is meant to advance common success.
Taking risks and learning from mistakes is a sure way to defeat challenges that must exist along the development journey (Kouzes and Posner 31). Sheikh has always been a pioneer, willing to try the unexplored. Since Sheikh ascended into a leadership position, he has tirelessly sought opportunities to innovate, grow, and promote change. This journey to improve needs not to be centralized. Leaders must remain flexible and open to listening to opinions from the team members. Leader’s basic role should be to analyze and support viable ideas in a bid to get new products, services, and procedures.
This approach has always been manifested in Sheikh’s leadership. For instance, in April 2007, Sheikh spearheaded an organizational restructuring of the DCA to DCAA with an aim of speeding the rate of decision-making across the organization. Sheikh’s organization has faced challenges in acquiring skilled labor among other market constraints. Regardless of these barriers, Sheikh devised new marketing strategies that involved outreach activities such as sponsoring football clubs and events within and beyond the United Arab Emirates. No one was sure if this move was going to provide a competitive edge but Sheikh knew that every idea deserved experimentation regardless of the consequences. According to Kouzes and Posner, the key to success is trying something new through experimentation as well as making people feel in control of the change process (29). In this case, it can be concluded that the leadership of Sheikh adds much value to the organization, particularly through outreach programs.
Empowering other people to work by facilitating teamwork and consultation is essential in attaining organizational goals (Yang, Huang, and Wu 259). Cooperation is the key to enhancing effectiveness among teams or other alliances. Since cooperation cannot be restricted to a defined group of followers, Sheikh often chairs open forums to persuade everyone to perform beyond organizational expectations. Sheikh has always campaigned for interpersonal communication skills that support respect and trust. These attributes lead to development and management of extraordinary efforts towards a shared goal. Building an environment that people are engaged and feel honored is the heart of providing motivation. Limbare shows that workers are more likely to exploit their thinking and energies to generate exemplary outcomes that touch everyone’s interests when they are given authority and space to act (32). Ultimately, based on Sheikh’s performance it is worth concluding his leadership style as being practical.
Lessons learned from Sheikh’s leadership approach
Based on this overview of the style and leadership aspects of Sheikh Ahmed, there are arrays of lessons to learn. This aspect is evident from the variety of developments witnessed in the Emirates Airlines under his leadership. For instance, leading the opening of Dubai World Central in 2010 was a historical achievement that speaks volumes for Sheikh’s leadership abilities. Besides, Sheikh holds key government offices, and he oversees various charitable foundations despite his numerous business engagements. His ability to multi-task and still performs at peak levels tell much about being a committed leader. Current and future leaders should learn of the need to be tolerant and patient when things seem not to work. Potential leaders can also learn to set high standards regardless of the risks and the likeness of failure (Yang, Huang, and Wu 264). From Sheikh’s perspective, it is evident that ordinary people can generate extraordinary results. Therefore, leaders who complain of the unproductive workforce should evaluate Sheikh’s approach and work with what is available while making meaningful changes.
While recognition and honor are important, leaders should never be overwhelmed by worker’s ideas to an extent of skipping evaluations. However, encouragement should be done on regular basis. Sheikh’s approach indicates the importance of celebrating individual and team’s accomplishments of minor roles since they help maintain workers focused. Sheikh’s model also suggests that the way to prosperity is arduous; thus, if leaders lose focus, the entire team might be tempted to despair. Sheikh’s experience in the Emirate Airline suggests that leaders should not falter in times of challenges but instead reflect on these challenges in a bid to generate the most desirable solutions. Similarly, Sheikh’s meticulous planning and critical decision-making indicate that leadership ability is an inevitable tool towards achieving organizational goals.
Critique of Sheikh’s approach
The debate in identifying the effective leadership models continues to reflect in current literature. As observed from various leaders and their leadership styles, much differences than similarities manifest in the way they manage their teams. Regardless of the style, the outcome matters. However, a poor style and philosophy will lead to ineffective performance. Sheikh expresses much concern about the growth of his organization and treasures the contributions of people in attaining the goals and desirable performances. This aspect implies that an effective leader should not only possess the ability to nurture his capabilities but also assisting others to unearth their potential (Winkler 32). Leading by example makes Sheikh a practical leader and result-oriented.
Sheikh’s philosophy to empower others through motivation and continued learning provides critical cues that are necessary for the prosperity of any organization. Continued learning has a positive influence on the organization’s outcomes particularly for an organization that works in unpredictable settings (White and Prywes 67). Sheikh’s approach in the Emirate Airlines reflects people’s interests hence giving the organization an opportunity to project their image and create brand awareness. The influence of Sheikh does not reach only his colleagues but also those people targeting to be effective leaders. Sheikh’s approach is relatively flexible allowing workers to come up with own initiatives provided they increase efficiency. This kind of flexibility is the key to success since everyone is motivated to contribute towards achieving a competitive edge.
Implications of Sheikh’s approach
Following Sheikh’s effort to ensure a learning culture in the Emirates Group Foundation, this organization has been able to produce talented leaders and experts who have pioneered its growth. Among his many milestones achieved, Sheikh has pioneered the establishment of the fly Dubai program. Ideally, Sheikh has been able to oversee the successful extension of the aviation industry and the global economy. Exposure to challenges has served as an opportunity for Sheikh to experiment things beyond the status quo. Sheikh’s philosophy and value for results continue to initiate disequilibrium, compelling people to question their ability, expertise, and strategies. The aspect of challenge creates a feeling motivation and providing the chance to learn through consultations (Kouzes and Posner 33).
Sheikh’s democratic and involving culture has increased diversity by encouraging expertise across various cultural backgrounds to join the Emirate Airline under different capacities. Sheikh’s friendly model continues to attract people from diverse religions, regions, and traditions. This aspect in return has facilitated the successful management of diverse customers. Due to the democratic nature of the organization, there has been a widespread acknowledgement of equal opportunity. In Emirates, people are treated fairly and are offered equal chances for career development. When employees are treated well, they respond by showing respect to everyone and offer the best service to their customers (Limbare 32).
Sheikh’s quest for effectiveness has led to the utilization of the approach that advocates for developmental job assignments aimed at keeping workers fully engaged and act appropriately. Even though not many people acknowledge been stretched out of their comfort zones, Sheikh continues to serve as an example by multitasking on various leadership roles. Consequently, employees have started to appreciate skill-based training in a bid to increase efficiency in their fields of operation. Sheikh represents a leader who has learned through experiencing obstacles. The travel industry is a competitive field that calls for bold steps in adopting technology that is in most cases unpredictable (White and Prywes 56). Sheikh has proven the significance of taking new initiatives and nurturing them within the organization’s workforce.
Currently, Emirates Airlines boasts a competitive edge and a large market share. This aspect is attributable to Sheikh’s practical-oriented and learning attributes within the organization. Under different circumstances, individuals enjoy the flexibility to make decisions and respond decisively. Through outreach programs such as sponsoring sports events creates the brand awareness. Sheikh reckons that the main elements to firm’s success entail not only the leadership aspects but also the incorporation of a competent and diverse workforce. Even though Sheikh’s approach is vulnerable to challenges, the model has proven that continued learning is the best tool to handle the pressure of the ever-evolving market demands.
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