I was on my way to a business transformation program as part of the many steps I have to take towards making the vision for my company a reality when I met this book. 2 words jumped out at me – Vision and Excellence. Not for the timid! – Tosan A.
MY VISION: CHALLENGES IN THE RACE FOR EXCELLENCE |MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL MAKTOUM |MOTIVATE PUBLISHING |2012 |214 PAGES
The book is written by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Ruler of Dubai, on his vision for transforming Dubai and other parts of the UAE to the level of international recognition through the drive for excellence and the challenges encountered in the process.
Although he directs the book to the people of the UAE and other Arab countries, it is clear that they are not the only ones that need the book as a lot of developing countries (and businesses) are still where Dubai once was and could use the guidance this book offers. From members of public service to leaders everywhere, the book is loaded with pointers towards positive change, visionary leadership, developing and managing distinctive human talent, forging ahead in the race for excellence and sustaining excellence as a gift to future generations.
The book is written in a semi- structured way with four main parts to guide the direction of the author’s thoughts but still fluid in the way the author recounts stories and personal experiences to buttress his points. That makes it even easier to read.
In telling the Dubai story, he described how visionary leadership had come into play since the 1970s through past inspirational leaders and how its re-emergence is made obvious in the speedy growth and development in Dubai today. So what is the vision for today’s Dubai?
The vision is for Dubai to become an international, pioneering hub of excellence and creativity and this is to be achieved through unselfish dedicated leadership, provision of the necessary infrastructure and the right environment.
ON LEADERSHIP: A good leader looks at the past with one eye and the future with the other. Leaders should be in the fore front and leadership should be practiced daily. It involves determination, self-confidence, far-farsightedness and good judgement.
A good leader should be an example for others. Be an example and you will secure their proficiency – Arab proverb
ON VISION: In most parts of the book, Vision is described rather than defined. Some features of a true leader’s vision;
- It must be excellent in form, essence, and implementation
- It must include imagination
- It must stir up the resolve, creativity and initiative in people and revive their determination to compete.
- Its benefit should not be restricted to only a group of people but must be comprehensive enough to benefit several groups of people.
As a leader, you must be able to convey the message of the vision to those involved in making it happen. This may be difficult and time consuming but must be continuous till they get it – Tosan’s fave.
Impossibility is nothing. Examples of formerly impossible projects are the creation of more berths at the port of Jebel Al, the Dubai international trade center and the construction of the Aluminium smelter by Dubai Aluminium company (DUBAL); Now add the World’s tallest building – Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab – World’s most luxurious hotel.
ON EXCELLENCE: Two key words to remember are RACE and PACE. Speed is essential since most times the fastest overtakes the biggest. It is a race so the existing high flyers are not going to remain static while people try to beat their record, thus setting standards against things that already exist is no standard but playing catch up; hence the new entrant has to come in with both skill and speed.
ON DEVELOPING TALENTS: Humans are very important assets in all nations and businesses. One of the key roles of leadership is to learn to develop new talents, coach promising talents and give them the opportunity to exert what they have learnt (see how to save rookie managers from themselves in my previous post – On Managing People.)
Delegating is also very important since managers cannot do everything, but delegation is NOT abdication of responsibility. Teamwork is essential and teams should be built on mutual trust and respect, commitment, close co-operation, good communication, and clearly set goals.
ON CHALLENGES : Leaders must remember that they are not alone! even world leaders have similar challenges akin to theirs, the only difference is the scale or magnitude.Recognise that obstacles are normal on the road to achieving excellence in vision. Expect resistance and embrace obstacles.
Inspite of all the mediocrity around, Leaders must NOT settle for less, Excellence can be attained so aim for the stars.
Tosan’s take: This book is empowering! For visionary leaders looking to move from the conceptualization phase to reality or if you just want to compare experiences with like minds, this book is for You (not your shelf) as you will have to read this book over and over.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION? and how will it help your country, company or community in the next 20 years? Share with us. Also if you have read the book, please share your own learning points too.
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