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Sun 18 Nov 2007 04:00 AM

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Eyes wide shut?

When it comes to leadership I have some bad news.

When it comes to leadership I have some bad news. It seems that the older I get, the more I realise I don't know. Worse, I didn't even know that I didn't know. Some good news. I'm not alone. I was debating this subject with my manager and mentor Terry Reynolds just recently. Over a No 5 and a 23 down at the new Noodle House at The Marina we began to distill what we believe to be the four macro concerns of a CEO. Or any leader for that matter.


If only I had a dollar every time we heard "Our people are our most valueable asset!" On the surface people development and engagement strategies seem as common as seeing a white Landcruiser pulling into Emirates Mall. There are changes afoot however. Enter Generation Y. Why? We have an aging population within the Emirates and GCC region. Many multi-national and local companies are finding it hard to attract and retain talent. Most of us find ourselves desperately trying to keep pace with someone who is under 35, highly educated, opportunistic and global in their thinking, let alone posessing the unique ability to work for 18 hours straight without a single Redbull. Forget almost everything that has helped you get to your current position. Everything's changed.


I took my family along with a group of friends to see Cirque Du Soleil. It's not a normal circus and I am sure that if you have attended one of their productions the experience is never far from the top of the Top 10 list. Cirque Du Soleil eliminated star performers and animal shows and replaced them with unique venues and artistic music and dance. Chan Kim and Mauborgne, the renowned INSEAD authors of Blue Ocean Strategy agree. Successful leaders today must define a strategy that creates industries not in existence today. A strategy that takes advantage of untapped market space and demand. For the Middle East defining a "Blue Ocean Strategy" will be the difference between creating sustainable global giants and simply a historical flash in the pan.


The Swiss once dominated the world's market in watchmaking, holding 85% of the market share. Then they invented the quartz-digital watch. Viewing it as a novelty, the Swiss exhibited this new technology at a trade show in Texas. So sure were the Swiss that the technology was of little significance, that they never bothered to legally protect it. After all, no one would want a watch that didn't have jewels and springs and needed batteries. Texas Instruments and Seiko thought differently and within a single year the rest is history. A paradigm shift occurred, and today, the Swiss control less than 15% of the world's watchmaking market.


An old manager used to say to me, "Always come with a solution to the problem". With your permission I would like to add an extra line. "And a 90 day plan to ensure execution". Gaining results is often heavily focussed on as a leadership competence. Let's face it, most of us were promoted based on our ability to deliver results - not our inspirational people management skills. Producing successful results however tends to breed expectation and with growth rates so high in many vertical markets within the Gulf managing these expectations becomes harder ever year.

Top-pocket questions

• What percentage of time and emotional energy does the management team routinely devote to driving revenue growth through differentiation?

• Does your team talk about growth only in terms of home runs? Do they understand the importance of singles and doubles for long-term, sustained organic growth?

• To what extent have you future proofed your people strategy? Does it cater for Generation Y talent and development?

• Are the people in your business clear about what how to manage rapid change? Do they know who is accountable for?

• How skilled are the people in your business in creating value propositions for each major customer segment of your business? How effective is your organization in using cross-selling to accelerate revenue growth?

• How good is the flow of ideas and execution in your business?

Glenn Price is a Principal at RogenSi, a global consultative training firm. For more information call +971 4 390 2362 or visit www.rogensi.com

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