Recently, Dr. Ella Egel, President of IISL, and I traveled to Dubai, UAE to participate in the International Conference on Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship as driving forces of the Global Economy (ICLIE). The conference was organized by the Canadian University of Dubai (http://www.cud.ac.ae/). Our presentation was on Global Leadership. The main questions we tried to answer were 1) Is there a leadership model that can be applied globally and 2) How can leaders align the organization’s vision and values with those of employees from diverse cultural backgrounds who may not share the organizations cultural values.? To answer these questions, we proposed a paradigm shift from the “having and doing,” which has dominated the Global leadership literature – to one based on a theory of “Being-Centered Leadership”(http://owl.li/jtYa307zlCk).
Our revisiting of leadership from a “Being-Centered” approach presented a different perspective on how to embrace cultural and religious differences – be it Christian, Muslim, nonreligious- through a Global Mindset based on spiritual leadership as a model of Global Leadership. An article based on our presentation will be published by Springer in the upcoming “Handbook of Personal and Spiritual Transformation.”
Our presentation was very well received and initiated a lively debate from the audience as it touched on two seemingly antithetical centers on which the UAE has founded its development: multiculturalism and Islamic identity. Dubai’s nationals represent only 15% of the total population with the remaining 85% consisting of expatriates from all over the world. On the other hand, the UAE through a “VISION 2021” document aspires “to build a vibrant and well-knit society” grounded on the UAE society’s Arab-Islamic identity by preserving the core tenets of Islam.
Our hosts were also very hospitable. In many ways Dubai seems very much like the emerald city in the Wizard of OZ with all its glass, chrome, and opulence. We visited Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper (829.8m) with its 163 floors. Once at the top, the view was astonishing. We could see all these futuristic high buildings made of glass and metal lying in the middle of the desert. One evening, we dined on a dhow, a lateen-rigged ship which once were used for commerce on the Persian Gulf . We feasted on exquisite Arab food and were entertained by musicians playing traditional Arab music. On a free afternoon we went on a safari and were given the opportunity to go four-wheeling in the desert, ride a camel (optional), feast on delicious Arabic dishes, watch a sequined belly dancing show, and view a ‘tanoura’ performance with dancers spinning in time to traditional Emirati music.