Leadership is the process of influencing followers and changing their beliefs into accomplishing a shared goal. Leaders can be born as genetics and early family experiences play a significant role in developing the personality and character needs that motivate the individual to become a leader. They also help in the development of the intellectual and interpersonal skills needed to be a leader. For instance, a child in a kindergarten could be a leader by nature amongst other children, this child had no training or learned skills on how to be a leader. Also, a leader could be made through training, work experiences, opportunity, education and mentors all go together to craft a leader. A person can learn how to practice and develop good leadership skills through training and experience. A great leader is both born and made, as training and experience will allow a leader to master the leadership skills he/she was born with.
Hussain Ali Habib Sajwani, a UAE national, is a driven, self confident and ambitious entrepreneur who proved his ability to transfer the business vision into corporate reality and to provide the necessary leadership styles in order to maintain the business's continuity and growth. Sajwani is an Industrial Engineering and Economics graduate from the University of Washington, he is the owner-founder and Chairman of DAMAC group based in Dubai. He was driven to work hard to expand his business into North Africa, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan and the Far East. Sajwani also holds a Chairman position in four other companies located in Qatar and Bahrain. They are Al Ahlia Insurance Co., Al Amana Building Materials CO., Al Jazeira Services Co., and Al Anwar Ceramic Tiles Co. As a result of Sajwani's driven and ambitious self, his companies operate in over 20 countries. His self-driven passion for his work makes him well respected by his followers and they enjoy working for him
DAMAC Group was established as a local catering company in 1982. The focus, vision, and dynamism of the company have enabled it to appear as a business corporation with activities across a spectrum of industries as real estate, hospitals, industrial projects, investments, logistics, manufacturing and education like schools, universities and colleges. DAMAC has emerged as a leader in every field of activity by virtue of its clarity of innovative technology, customer focus, innovative technology and finest management practices. DAMAC Group is empowered by about 5,000 employees with activities extended across 16 countries. The corporate office is to be found in Dubai, United Kingdom, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Oman, and Iran. The Vision of DMAC Group is to accomplish leadership status in every field of activity by identifying feasible business opportunities and providing maximum value for customers. The mission of DAMAC is to attain leadership status in all fields of its activities by strong customer focus and insights applied to developing market conditions. DAMAC wants to adopt the latest in technology and management to offer its clients with value that is better in content. DAMAC will attempt to be favored employer by adopting decentralized management systems and practical human resources policies.
Traits of the Leader
Sajwani is a successful leader as a result of the leadership traits that he gained throughout his experience as a leader. Some of the traits that were observed in Sajwani are Drive, ambition and self-confidence.
Having drive, as a trait, is being highly motivated to put the maximum amount of effort into accomplishing a goal or successfully performing a task. In order to be driven to accomplish a goal, there must be a certain factor stimulating this drive in you. For example, a bonus, promotion, or anything of great value to a leader and not necessarily monetary or job related values (Timm, 2010). Each person will be driven by different factors related to their individual personalities, life styles, living standards, position, status, age and etc. For instance, a manager will not be driven by the same factors that will drive an employee; similarly a single employee may not be driven by the same factor that would drive a married employee. To be driven a person needs to be very energetic and challenging so that he/she achomplishes a challenging goal. Also, ambition is a great factor of drive. Being ambitious will increase the likelihood of a constant and increasing drive to work hard. If I am not ambitious I will not be driven to work hard. Being driven as a leader will have a very positive influence on the followers as they will be highly motivated and it will stimulate energy and motivation to successfully accomplish goals and working hard.
Making decisions, long-term, fast or day-to-day decisions, requires bravery, tactic, and knowledge. People fear that their acts and decisions may be harmful, so they avoid making decisions before careful and prior studying, planning and weighing all aspects of the decisions. However, sometimes leaders may face situations where they need to make fast and on the spot decisions, only self-confident and knowledgeable leaders will succeed in such situations. Fear and uncertainty will cause a lot of delays and losses to the organization. Being a great leader is not simply being successful but it is making the right decisions on time which will benefit the organization.
Example of Sajwani's Leadership
After Dubai's economic crisis, Damac, one of the largest private developers in the Middle East, experienced a lot of falls and complications. Damac was at the sharp end of international media criticism over the past two years. There were a lot of rumours about cancelled projects and disgruntled investors. Sajwani was forced to downsize his global workforce by 3% for the past 2 years. Also, Sajwani had to outline a consolidation programme for Damac's portfolio, which will help Sajwani prioritise certain projects. Sajwani points out, "I think we realised the problem at a very early stage." They were one of the first companies to take action in order to analyse and solve the problem. Sajwani restructured the whole company, downsized the number of offices and employees, and switched his focus from introducing new projects and buildings, to focusing on dealing with customer issues and delivery of units.
Sajwani was shocked by the speed and scale of the Dubai's downturn. He was not expecting such a strong downfall. The events scared buyers and customers, dropped prices and the confidence in the market was shaken. Sajwani describes the real estate market in Dubai as "close to the bottom."
In order to ease the situation, Sajwani relaxed payment plans and allowed investors to exchange plan purchases for units of the projects that were almost completed. He managed to get employees to be organized together, and they worked with customers on different plans so that they help customers through this tough time.
While deciding on plans to make the acquisitions, Sajwani insists that Damac will not raise debt but it will be up-to-date with all payments to its contractors. He explained that the company will focus on the projects that were already under construction and that further expansion plans and planning new project will have to wait.
Sajwani's Recovery Programme gave people a cheerful alternative which allowed them to recognize their investment sooner than they expected and allowed them to start getting a rental income rather than the "off plan market." Sajwani will try to continue with this plan in the foreseeable future.
Sajwani announced that Damac made a profit of 500 million Dirhams at the end of 2008. He also mentioned that he is financially strong and customers will be paid a large percentage of the cost for their units. Sajwani has the funds to retain the commitments he made to customers. He also stated that Damac's progress was incredible in 2008-2009 taking into consideration the economic crisis that surrounded the world.
Suddenly, Sajwani announced that the company needs to downsize by 200 employees, as a result of an increased impact of the global economic crisis. As much as Sajwani repulsed this decision, he was forced to enforce it for the organization's sake. Sajwani had a vision, he believed "people will still want to come to Dubai and live and work in places like Dubai Marina, Business Bay and Jumeirah Lake Towers [which are some of Damac's successful projects]." He added that when this vision becomes true, Damac will be ready to provide the right products at the right time in the right location.
In 2009, Damac experienced a fast recovery. Two of the project, claimed to be cancelled by the media, were successfully completed. Sajwani states, "Completing this development is a superb way for us to start the first quarter of 2009," it also showed that they have not lost their focus or commitment to customers and contractors. This will only be the beginning of the recovery project for Damac. Sajwani is abiding to make impressive advancements at other key developments across Dubai. He explained that Damac will carry on awarding contracts for the new developments and will work directly with contractors on site to meet deadlines and deliver Sajwani's promise of 25 towers by the end of 2011.
Hussain Sajwani is considered to be an autocratic leader. This style of leadership is the best style to adopt in cases of urgent actions and decision making. The autocratic leadership style is very effective in times of stressful situations. Sajwani's autocratic leadership style was in best use during Dubai's economic crisis, where immediate decisions were to be made. Although, it is commonly known that working for an autocratic leader may be very boring and uninteresting to employees, however; Sajwani's followers enjoyed working for him and they found that his style of leadership left them feeling relieved from stress and pressure as they preferred to be told what to do.
Weakness in Leadership
As mentioned Hussain Sajwani is an autocratic leader who happens to make decisions on his own without any help or advice from his followers. This communication style is known to be a one way communication where followers have no say or no opinion in the orders and decisions that are made by their leader. Some followers may not like or adapt to being told what to do with no feedback or discussions involved. This leadership style may be very demotivating to them. Also, an organization with an autocratic leader may experience higher turnover and absenteeism than any other organization as followers may be very resistant to this leadership style. Also, an organization struggling from low morale or is interested in building good relationships with employees an autocratic leader may not be very useful.
Conclusion and Suggestions
Sajwani should consider adopting joint decision making, where decisions are discussed and studied with his followers. This way Sajwani may conclude a better decision as there will be different ideas and carefully studied opportunities and decisions to choose the best one that fits to a certain situation. Also, followers will no longer feel resentful or fearful and they will no longer be resistant as they will feel a sense of belonging to the organization and that they are an important part of the organization. Sajwani should also consider employee empowerment which is a strategy that enables employees to make their own decisions that relate to their jobs. Employee empowerment is a very effective way of motivating employees to work hard and be responsible as it helps the employees to own their own work and take responsibility of the end results. It allows the leader to concentrate and have more time to manage and work on more important decisions affecting the existence of the organization.
Hussain Sajwani has a lot of business plans and projects all over the world. Operating all over the world is not easy especially with having million of employees that need motivation and support (Field, 2007). Hussein Sajwani made DAMAC one of the most famous companies in the world with his strong drive and enthusiasm, which are two main factors that will lead to success (Daft, 2008). Drive and ambition are not as easy as carrot and stick, but it involves a lot more effort and understanding. People should be given a purpose in order to stimulate the motivation to work and this purpose should relate to each and every one of them personality, even if it is a common purpose or goal (Timm, 2010). Drive and self-confidence are not stimulated without trust, transparency and clarity about what is happening will generate trust and be a positive factor to stimulate the drive and self-confidence to perform and work effectively (Lawler, 2009). Drive, ambition and self-confidence are important factors to every person because they are what will get us up every morning fresh and ready to give out our best in order to achieve our goals.