Since working with Saudi diplomats in Washington, DC, I have always held them in high regard, especially women, because of how articulate, well-spoken and highly educated they are.
During one of my work trips to Riyadh, I had the privilege of visiting the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development and the Academy for Developing Administrative Leaders, among others. The leaders of the mentioned establishments specifically struck me with their vision and motivation. Many came from private sector backgrounds and want to see their homeland succeed beyond Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s strategic Vision 2030.
Despite an impressive track record, decades of experience and determination, all these leaders must have a team behind them. I see it as one of the main challenges the Kingdom faces. Thus, you see a high demand for leadership training at the Mohammed bin Salman Foundation (Misk) and other organizations, as they are breeding cohorts of future leaders or, as the literature commonly calls them, “hypos.”
Agility, in particular, is an in-demand skill that trainers try to incorporate into workshops. Leaders ask themselves how to block out the noise and think clearly on their feet. Frankly, that is virtually impossible because our behaviors are dramatically shaped by reward and punishment under certain circumstances. Therefore, we experience all sorts of emotions, all of which are valid when trying to think clearly on the go.
If you had a pleasant personality and saw watering holes as half-full, you would be much healthier, independent of your societal ranking.
In my practice, I often suggest we forget the trend and instead focus on developing adaptability and kindness, as a skill. You need to have a short-term plan, but be ready for it to change at any minute, without overreacting, while also being kind to others and yourself, foremost.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, kindness is being generous, helpful and caring about others. Can you imagine any future-thinking leader who does not care about people? Hardly. However, this is not a quality you can teach in the classroom during a 90-minute session, but rather something that your parents, grandparents and educators should have instilled in you. This trail of thought, of course, could lead us to corporate and public policies about maternity leave, annual leave and more, but that is a vast conversation.
Northeastern University lists self-awareness as the first quality of a leader. Thus, any self-aware person should be able to recognize his feelings and communicate them properly, which, again, is not something we are taught at any point in our lives or careers, sadly.
Nonetheless, why think about it now, of all times? Because, in my opinion, according to Spiral Dynamics, Saudi Arabia is currently going through the Orange Stage with newly found concepts of entrepreneurship and self-development while still thriving in the materialistically attributed lifestyle. I also believe that some of the country’s leadership has already moved on to the Yellow Stage, where they understand that there is no linear solution to the system’s challenges. However, for the whole society to take this leap and jump from Orange to Green, a collective sense of compassion, community and empathy must be developed. Although, as we know to be whole as a society, each citizen must start with themselves.
If you had a pleasant personality and saw watering holes as half-full, you would be much healthier, independent of your societal ranking. Thus, speaking in layman’s terms, if you were kind, others would like you to socialize with you. Additionally, if your ideas were truly worth following, then you leave behind not only a legacy of a great leader, but a kind one, too.
• Anastasiia Stoiatska is a Harvard-certified human behaviorist who delivers cross-cultural communication trainings across the GCC. Anastasiia is currently based in Dubai, helping foreign businesses navigate local cultural intricacies for successful community integration. She is fluent in six languages.