Do you have the right traits to be an engaging leader?

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 27 Jul 2016

Leadership coach Nicolai Tillisch explains why building trust is crucial to success

Nicolai TillischWhat people really want from their leaders is trust, dynamism, competency and vision, according to research by Kouzes and Posner. But how do you go about turning those four words into real attributes of an effective and engaging leader?
“There are many different recipes for being a successful leader in the Middle East,” says Nicolai Tillisch, regional partner at The Leadership Circle, leadership coach, author and public speaker. “It is one of the most diverse and dynamic environments to lead an organisation. There are industries in some countries where a few organisations are enjoying steadily growing demand without much competition, while other places in the region require sophistication on an international level. As the regional business hub, Dubai is one of the most multicultural and fast-changing places to work in the world.”
New and inspirational ideas are gaining importance, but building trust is paramount
“Relationships and trust are prominent aspects of working in the Arab world,” says Tillisch. “You must project your personality to make yourself noticed. New and inspirational ideas are increasingly important in the working environment – until now, foreign concepts have been licensed and products imported without much local innovation because the region has never had manufacturing or service industries of any significance. But increasing competition and globalisation is rapidly changing that.”
Providing for your employees is important
“Western leadership theories are concerned with what it takes for you as a leader to make others believe your message,” says Tillisch. “Beyond the need to be right, leaders must also pay attention to whether their audience is feeling honoured, and whether they are providing the best possible livelihood for the people they lead. Leading a multicultural team means it is important to respect other world views.”
Be a risk-taker, but don’t blame others if it goes wrong
“The risk appetite can be enormous,” says Tillisch. “Grandiose projects are regularly launched and this contrasts with usual risk aversion usually seen in organisations. But if a project goes wrong, you should be very careful as a leader about making anybody lose face – especially in front of others.”
The apparent contradiction between risk willingness and aversion can to some extent be explained by a deep belief in the overall economic prospects of the region, which again and again makes the almost impossible possible.
Work should not be your first priority
“While work has an all-consuming role in the lives of many western executives, there is no doubt that religion and family come first – before work – for the majority of their Middle Eastern colleagues,” Tillisch says. “Your heart must beat for your family and the families of those working for you for you to gain their trust and commitment.”