Gulf economies need strong leaders to support and develop the business boom in the region, said Jack Welch, former CEO and chairman of General Electric.
Welch , speaking at the Winning Strategies Forum in Dubai, highlighted the need for innovative leaders who could relentlessly upgrade their team and use every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach and build self-confidence.
“A leader is one who recognises that it is not about their success but about his or her team’s efforts. The job is to constantly upgrade your team and make sure that each member not only shares the vision of the company but also breathes it and I can say they will deliver results.
“A leader should inspire his people to take risks and make them realise mistakes are not fatal. Besides, he should have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls.”
Welch said transparency was vital to keep morale up during difficult times.
“As a leader you should be transparent and explain all your actions to your people,” he said. “Keeping your thinking secret and hoarding knowledge drains trust out of your team. You should tell your people about what is happening in the company, what actions are being taken and how it will affect them.
“It’s very important for an employee to know where he or she stands. They should not be guessing about their career. If news is bad, be candid or you will lose your team’s confidence. This is very important in the Gulf when things are going so fast and you risk losing people.”
Retaining people is a major problem most companies face today but if a good leader is at the helm this difficulty can be avoided to a large extent. “You have to make the job exciting for your people. They should feel this is the best and most fun place to work where all the action is happening. It’s good to stretch people. You don’t have to wait for years to give additional responsibility to an employee – a 28-year-old is competent to take on the work of a 32-year-old. Let them feel they are capable of doing big jobs.”
Rewarding employees goes a long way towards retaining people. “Show them the money. When people live and breathe the vision reward it with salary, bonus or significant recognition. Let your people know you care.”
He said a good leader should start by hiring the right people. “In the Gulf things are growing like crazy and people are hiring like crazy. Get your hiring procedure as rigorous as humanly possible to get the best talent.” A good human resources department is vital to the success of a company.
“It is advisable to elevate HR to a position of power and primacy in the organistion and make sure HR people have the special qualities to help managers build leaders and careers. The best HR types are pastors and parents in the same package.”
Strong leaders needed to support Gulf boom, says Jack Welch