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Offbeat

Discovering leadership

The Unknown Leader is undoubtedly the best and most sincere and authentic self-help book written by a Saudi. Already in its second print, the book’s success is mainly due to its author, Hussein Al-Banawi, chairman and CEO of The Banawi Industrial Group, one of the leading manufacturing groups in Saudi Arabia. An inspirational leader and a man of vision, he is committed to helping the next set of entrepreneur leaders in the Arab world. All the proceeds from this book are donated to the enterprise leadership development programs sponsored by Banawi Industrial Group.
Hussein Al-Banawi’s mission is to pay tribute to the unknown leaders everywhere with the hope of inspiring some of us to become one.
In this book, Al-Banawi offers some insights and ideas for those who aspire to join the next generation of leaders in the Middle East and around the world. He also describes a new model of leadership that is not about chasing fame or glory but about contributing to a better society; not about accumulating wealth but about living a satisfying life; not about winning every contest but about venturing and taking risks in pursuit of excellence.
“So if you aspire to become a leader, I urge you not to make wealth your ultimate goal. Instead, strive to do work that is personally exciting and fascinating, and that helps to make the world a better place through the productivity and excellence of what you do,” says Al-Banawi.
We are reminded that a diploma or a college degree does not mark the end of an education but rather the beginning. Our present world is always changing and there is always something new to learn and one needs to continually develop one’s skills.
One should also immerse oneself in problem solving early in one’s career because this provides a training ground for finding solutions later on. Tackling problems early in our lives helps us recognize the opportunities hidden inside problems.
“When business challenges threaten to overwhelm you, remember: If you can manage the emotions, you can manage the issues. We are all students of life, and we hope we never graduate!” In that respect, we need to innovate and not imitate. We constantly need to look around us and see what could be done better. It is easier to imitate but imitation is a short-term solution. The author mentions his friend, Ueli Prager, a remarkable innovator and founder of the successful Movenpick Chain of Hotels and Resorts.
Ueli Prager built his business on the idea that busy travelers look forward to eat fresh and high quality food rapidly and at a reasonable price. The name of his business reflects this insight. After he saw a seagull catching a fish from the water, he decided to make it just as simple for people on the go to ‘move and pick’ delicious meals from his restaurants and therefore he named his chain, “Movenpick”.
Prager was the first restaurateur to feature sandwiches and salads on the menu. He also placed a bakery just inside the entrance of his hotels so that the aroma of freshly baked bread would lure visitors inside to the restaurants.
The digital age and its continuous and instantaneous communication have created a society in which change has become a way of life. It has also increased people’s desire for a greater say in their future and for the opportunity to exercise their talents for the benefit of all.
It is important to make sure that regulations, customs, laws and our way of thinking promote entrepreneurship and bottom-up development. Entrepreneurs remain a vital engine of growth in any society. They create innovation, sustainable employment, wealth and opportunity. But leaders are not only needed in companies and government offices, but also in factories, schools, universities, hospitals, in small shops, in offices and most importantly in the midst of our homes and families.
The characteristics of ‘unknown leaders’:
• Give more than they take
• Do not seek recognition, praise or fame, but rather the self-fulfilment that comes from the consciousness of a job well done.
• Are humble and modest, quick to praise others and to share the credit for accomplishments with all those who deserve it
• Refuse to participate in or surrender to the negativity that so many people wallow in.
• Help make our world a place of hope and high achievement
• Are needed today in greater numbers than ever!
This book touches both our heart and mind with moving and exciting stories of leading businessmen and unknown leaders. It is also an inspirational guide, which motivates us and provides us with clear advice on how each one of us can become a leader.

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