Monday 01 December 2014

Even the best strategy can fail without effective leadership. An understanding of the tools of national power and the ways they may be used to implement strategies can only benefit the nation if leaders make things happen. And as the founding president, Sheikh Zayed, once said: “The real spirit behind the progress is the human spirit, the able man with his intellect and capabilities.” Strategic Leadership must provide the vision and direction for the success of any nation. Current events require strategic leaders who can not only provide such vision, but who can also manage change and deal with ambiguity to accomplish national goals under increasingly complex circumstances.

Today’s leaders are responsible for the directing activities within environments that are increasingly global and unwaveringly complex. “Strategic” leadership implies broad scale and scope and issues of great import, requiring vision extending over many years. Thus, strategic national leaders set a country’s direction for the future, gain the support of key constituencies necessary for resourcing over the long term, and manage execution under difficult and often uncertain conditions.

Strategic leaders must manage Change. This nation has witnessed phenomenal change over its 43 years; few could have imagined today’s UAE in 1971, but thanks to God, one true strategic leader did. Such dynamic change will likely continue over the next 43 years; modern world events are highly volatile, increasingly uncertain (even with so much information), more and more complex due to globalization and new technologies, and highly ambiguous, often creating situations with few precedents for decision-makers. Because world affairs are so complex and ill-defined, strategic leaders must be creative problem-solvers who are innovative yet levelheaded, in order to effectuate inevitable changes.

Strategic leaders must effectively communicate a Vision. In today’s dynamic environment senior officials must be able to understand and evaluate the opinions of others and be able to communicate options coherently and passionately. They are often called upon to work closely with industrialists, scientists, educators, representatives of other government departments, and leaders from other nations and international groups. They must bring to this decision making pool not only clarity of thought and mastery of problem solving, but also a comprehensive knowledge of the national, regional and international affairs influencing national security, and they must be able to inspire action by communicating their ideas effectively to everyone concerned, thus creating a common vision for the future.

Strategic leaders who can not only provide vision, but can also manage change and deal with ambiguity to accomplish national goals under increasingly complex circumstances can meet every test. But leaders cannot do everything themselves. To effectively carry out the range of responses typical today, national leaders must rely on others to understand their strategic intent and support their strategies by adapting as required in their areas of responsibility. So the challenge of strategic leadership is not only producing an optimum strategy and a clear vision but also creating a strategic team and developing the people required to adapt in execution as conditions require.

The UAE Vision 2021 calls for the nation to “harness the full potential of its national human capital by maximizing the participation of Emiratis and nurturing home-grown public and private sector leaders.” With a new National Innovation Strategy and a proud history of strategic visionary leaders, the nation can be confident in the future, but our strategic leaders will still need all of our support as they manage the complex world of tomorrow.