How Arab Leaders Learn – the surprising truth

What differences are there between Western and Arabic leadership models? Do GCC leaders learn differently? How big are the differences within the GCC and the Arab world more generally?

All challenging questions which our very own Dr Amira Khattab addressed as part of her doctoral studies.  Her subsequent Thought Leadership report entitled “Learning to Succeed. Leadership, education, and the knowledge economy in the Middle East” explores the issue and comes up with some interesting findings.

The report draws on her interviews of leadership development experts in the Middle East and a large scale survey of more than 1,500 executives from 17 Arab countries.  The report emphasizes a tailor-made approach to leadership development – one that draws on global practices while also reflecting local cultural, societal and economic values. It also argues for a retooled educational system focused on generating a pipeline of creative, entrepreneurial leaders.

The Report focuses on addressing five key questions:

1.    What differences are there between Western and Arabic leadership models?
2.    Do GCC leaders learn differently? How great are the differences within the GCC and the Arab world more generally?
3.    What difference does it make whether a GCC national attended a Western or Arabic school?
4.    Do young GCC nationals have a different view of leadership and learning than their parents’ generation?
5.    Were there gender differences in approaches to learning and leadership?

The main findings, underpinned by statistically significant data show that:

•    Leader’s approaches to learning and development vary significantly across nationalities, geographies, and educational backgrounds, with education having the highest effect on the propensity to modernize and globalize
•    Leaders agree to the need to adopt new leadership practices. We describe how ‘culture’ manifests itself through how leadership models and instructional approaches need to be adapted to the social identity of Arabs
•    Traditional schooling systems in the region hinder innovation, and propose a way to retool education whilst remaining true to local values

In response, the report proposes a new integrated model for leadership development- what Khattab calls Leadership Clusters of Excellence for the Arab world – catered to suit the specific needs of aspiring and established GCC executives. In the longer term, she sets out recommendations for retooling the education system across the GCC to develop pupils who have an entrepreneurial mindset, are confident in taking risks, persevere in pursuing their passions embody global competencies, empathy to others, and are connected to their local roots.

Check out the full report by visiting the link HERE.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *