Have we run out of Creative Leaders?

Leadership in Dubai and the UAE has never been in question. How is it that such a small country has leapt onto the world’s centre stage in such a short time? Well, there are lots of great books out there where you can read up on Dubai’s history and the Leadership skills that have catapulted it from a small trading port to a megacity but I will touch on one quality, namely creativity.

In 1999, when addressing a government award ceremony Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum gave a very interesting speech in which he said, “a leader does not necessarily need to be the most intelligent member of his group, although many of us think that this should be the case, rather he is the one with the clearest and most far-reaching vision.”

his excellency sheikh mohammed bin rashid al maktoum

His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum always has his eye on the future,

Leaders like Sheikh Mohammed do not stay still , they do not look at what their competitors are doing and try to mimic them rather they have the ability to create opportunities and go beyond the current mind-set.

Visionaries are willing to try new things and challenge the norm and have conviction and ability to execute their vision. They do things differently. Different is why they exist. The why they do it is important , it drives them to explore ideas and pursue their goals .

Steve Jobs was regarded as a visionary leader and Apple’s success can be attributed to his creativity in imagining new markets for emerging technology (coupled with of course Steve Wozniak’s technical programming skills). So why do they do it?

George Mallory, the great climber in answer to why he attempted to climb Everest, stated, “because it is there.”

Jobs said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Sheikh Mohammed, Dubai’s leader is quoted as saying, “If we have achieved everything, should we stay hand folded, just to eat and drink?”

They all strive to look beyond the present into what could be, they don’t stand still. Innovation is born from chaos not status quo, so next time you see a leader of industry resting on his laurels that is when the competition will gain advantage. Likewise business will cede competitive advantage when they lack vision and mimic the best practice of successful companies. The businesses that are leading the market are the ones creating not best practice but ‘next’ practice and embrace the philosophy of ‘what if’.

So who do you think is a visionary leader? If political leaders are not meeting the mark who is? Which business leaders epitomise creativity?

For information on ISM’s game changing Leadership course in Dubai please contact [email protected]

Whether you are simply beginning to put together your business plan, or have already started out, building a successful company requires a lot more than a great idea or product.

The world’s most successful businesses are built by design, not from a fluke. There is a strong methodology to building a successful company. By sticking to the method it is possible to create a business that will either last a lifetime for its founders, or become attractive enough to be sold for a good profit.

This week ISM Dubai spoke to Matthew Barnett, co-founder of Vimily and asked him for a success tip. Vimily is a creative video platform to help you capture stories of your family. Here’s what he had to say.

Celebrate your successes

“Growing a start-up business is a roller-coaster ride to say the least, raising funds, missing deadlines, getting your first users…losing your first users…

With this occurring on a daily basis, it’s easy to forget to celebrate your success’s, but this is something you should always do, no matter how small – and always include the team.

By recognising these, and rewarding the team, you will inspire positivity, build a strong culture, and motivate far more than cash incentives ever can.  This celebration will lead to greater productivity and energy by all involved, which will ultimately enable you, as a team, to overcome any of the lows the start-up cycle may throw at you.”


Here are a few more tips to help you build a successful business in Dubai or elsewhere.

Strong culture

When building a company the ethos of your business is going to be the driving force behind every decision your employees make. Creating a strong culture is about making sure that every aspect of the business is covered. From customer service, to accountancy practices, you need to convey your over arching principles to everyone in your team.

Have a vision

Inspiring your team is one of the most important jobs of a CEO. If you have a passion for what you are doing, your staff will feel it too. Without passion, employees can feel they are just doing a job everyday, not creating a meaningful product or service. Yet, with a little inspiration from the top they will give their all to get the job done, and get it done well.

Hire with diligence

Surround yourself with the best people you can. Not just the best on the paper though. Create a rigorous hiring system to weed out those who look good on their resume, but lack that internal passion to help your company succeed.

Rectify mistakes quickly

As much as you need to hire carefully, if you do make a mistake hiring someone, fix it straight away. Letting someone work in your business that does not fit into the culture you have created, or doesn’t feel the passion for the product, is detrimental to your business.

Also, if you have feedback that a product isn’t right for the market, don’t be afraid to change it. No everyone has the vision of Steve Jobs who made products that nobody thought the market needed. Often using feedback effectively means changing tack. This is particularly applicable in the tech industry where the industry changes so quickly.

Watch the budget

You may have some nice big start up capital, but that doesn’t mean you can blow it on dining out at the best restaurants or buying designer furniture for your office. Keep a tight reign on the budget to ensure if you need it, the money is still there to help you out of a hole.

Have a great board of advisors

Great advice is important to a building a successful business. Identify who you know, or want to know, with the skills and experience to advise you on how to get from being a small business, to a big, successful one. Advisors are generally specialists who can help you reach new markets or consolidate your presence in your current market.

Listen to your customers

This might seem obvious, but some companies forget whom they are actually working for. Get out and meet with your main customers and listen to what they have to say. It can mean the difference between creating a product your customers will or won’t buy. No matter how hard you and your team have been working on something, if there is no appetite for it, what is the point?

By discussing what is needed in your marketplace you will not only build better products, you’ll be building better relationships with your customers. Those are the relationships that lead to more business for you and for them.

Whether you are a small start-up or a new company with huge investment, the challenges to carving your niche in the marketplace are same.  Building a successful company is a hard slog, but laying excellent groundwork at the outset will increase the likelihood of success.

Matthew has also provided a link to Vimily’s free iPhone App for our readers.