Contemporary organizations are under increased pressure to perform exemplary and sustainably. Consumers are increasingly demanding, and their preferences are shifting rapidly while competition is fiercer (Super, 2020). Besides, the organizational environment is rapidly changing owing to technological advancements, shifting customer preferences, and globalization. Consequently, present-day organizations encounter a rapidly-changing environment that challenges everything, including their business models, operational strategies, and survivability. In turn, organizational change is a regular phenomenon in contemporary organizations as they navigate through their surrounding environment. Organizational leaders are most critical in these turbulent times because they can guide their firms past the numerous and rapidly-emerging challenges. Emirates NBD PJSC Bank is a large Emirati bank grappling with leadership diversity and is making significant strides despite numerous challenges (Kadabashy, 2022). This discussion delves into leadership issues associated with building innovative teams, organizational resilience towards change, and empowering women.
This discussion addresses three issues. The first is the leadership strategies for building innovative teams. The second issue concerns the role of leaders in addressing the resilience towards organizational change. The third is related to the empowerment of women in the
Innovative teams are critical for the prosperity and survival of organizations in the contemporary environment. However, building innovative teams is a protracted process and not an event. Therefore, leaders intent on building innovative teams in their organizations must possess specific leadership skills alongside patience because the process is time-consuming (Super, 2020). Understanding what innovative teams are would help identify the leadership strategies that would help create them. Innovative teams are a group of talented individuals with the exemplary capacity to develop unique solutions to peculiar problems. Their thinking and operating styles are beyond conventional approaches because they thrive on creating and implementing new ideas. Consequently, diversity is a critical ingredient of innovative teams because it provides an unlimited multiplicity of ideas and potential solutions. The decision-making process in an innovative team is often brutal because of the intense discussions about various ideas from different members before the team settles into one of them.
Leaders use several strategies for building innovative teams. For instance, they may recruit high talent to ensure they have a rich and highly qualified workforce from which to constitute their teams. In this case, the leaders may seek out multi-talented individuals able to contribute diverse expertise to the team. Leaders may also recruit culturally and gender-diverse workforces to ensure that their teams have a broad cultural representation. The rationale behind this approach is that people from different cultures and gender inject different perspectives into a problem being addressed by the team, thus making the team more creative in its solution formulation. Leaders may insist on the person-organization fit as part of team membership. In this case, leaders may appraise how well the prospective member understands and articulates the organization’s vision, mission, and values. They also determine the level of organizational commitment and citizenry in the prospective team member candidate. This guarantees the leaders the loyalty of the team members to the organization and the project at hand. Leaders may also prospect for emotional intelligence in the team member candidates. They believe that emotionally competent team members will likely work harmoniously and productively together with minimal conflicts. Leaders may also endeavor to instill innovativeness in existing teams to make them high-performing innovation teams. The leaders may organize professional development programs to upgrade the skills and expertise of the team members. However, some strategies can be more effective and successful than others, based on several factors related to individual, organizational, and environmental factors. To overcome these challenges, leaders deploy the transformational style of leadership to promote innovativeness in their teams (Tabassi et al., 2017). They believe individuals can deliver their best performance when well-facilitated and provided with a conducive environment. Therefore, the leader acts as the motivator, coach, mentor, guide, and arbitrator to the team.
Nonetheless, there are strategies proven to be effective in promoting team innovativeness. Psychological safety is a condition that successful leaders use to promote innovativeness because it guarantees the team members of their liberty to try and fail without any negative consequences. In a psychological save environment, members practice trial and error without the fear of being reprimanded or losing their jobs. In addition, constructive tension is another condition created by leaders successful in building innovative teams. The leader ensures that each team member is under constant pressure to perform excellently. Consequently, team members compete to deliver ideas to the table and thrive in bouncing ideas from each other. This way, each member contributes to creating new ideas and improving existing ones through some constructive friction that makes each member assertive in their idea formulation and presentation.
Innovative team development progresses through several stages. These are the forming, storming, norming, and performing phases a team should go through before achieving consistent team innovativeness (Rosing et al., 2018). The leader’s role is to guide this process until the performing face is achieved and use tactful leadership to maintain the team in this phase.
Change is constant, continuous, and inevitable in contemporary organizations as they try to navigate complex, unpredictable, and volatile environments. In this regard, change is a regular and usual occurrence in the organizational development process of any corporate entity striving to position itself favorably in its industry. However, building resilience has proven to be more effective in promoting organizational transformation than deploying change management strategies, such as adopting change models and professional development programs. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from adverse events (Southwick et al. 2017). In the organizational setting, resilience is the ability of the organization to overcome turbulences and adverse events in the organizational setting. Organizational resilience has gained prominence due to the emergence of complex adaptive systems, which are found to improve organizational capacity to withstand shocks, adopt new strategies, and transform the entire organization (Barasa et al., 2018). Leaders are critical in fostering resilience in their organizations.
Leaders champion organizational resilience using several strategies. These include using the transformational leadership style, fostering a learning organization, and improving risk management to help organizations predict imminent adverse circumstances and proactively prepare to surmount such incidences while leaving the organization more robust than before the incidences. However, the leader’s role as an organizational resilience champion as a critical component of organizational development is influenced by many factors. For instance, leaders encounter hostile organizational cultures that resist change, considering that organizational development and resilience-building are founded on embracing continuous, and sometimes, drastic change. In this case, leaders championing resilience-building must address the resistive organizational culture before embarking on the resilience-building program. In addition, while creating a learning organizational environment bolsters resilience building, leaders may face a shortage of workforce talent capable of learning fast. Consequently, the leaders’ adaptive and flexibility-building initiatives may not yield the desired organizational change required to entrench resilience. In the same breath, some leaders may be unwilling to relinquish their authority and control to other members of the organization that are sufficiently skilled in dealing with particular adverse events. Shared, distributed, and decentralized leadership is hailed for promoting organizational resilience. However, the leaders’ characteristics and personalities may be one of the hindrances to building organizational resilience. Southwick et al. (2017) argue that delegating authority and making decisions swiftly enables organizations to survive turbulent times, and is a desirable leadership quality for promoting organizational resilience. This approach to residence building needs to be practiced continuously in the organizations during the absence of crises to help them be more prepared for adverse events in the future.
Women are increasingly joining the corporate executive positions in large corporations worldwide as they break the leadership glass ceiling imposed by the longstanding paternalistic corporate leadership practice. Nowadays, women are highly qualified academically and professionally to the same level as their male counterparts, if not higher. Already, the few notable women that have been successful in leadership have paved the way for other women to aspire to leadership positions and organization to be more inclusive of women at the executive level. Firms like Emirates NBD have stated their commitment to increase the number of women in executive management positions amid significant challenges in women leadership empowerment globally (Kadabashy, 2022). This is one of the few Emirati firms that have declared such intentions publicly amidst the likely resistance that such a more would elicit within and beyond the country’s borders.
However, there are global leadership issues confronting the women empowerment efforts that would influence leadership of women in the United Arab Emirates in the future, which are mirrored in Emirates NBD PJSC Bank. Firstly, female corporate executive are still few globally, although their numbers are growing gradually. According to the Forbes Coaches Council (2018), only 5.2 % of women are in the chief executive officer position in Fortune 500 firms. The underrepresentation of women in leadership is cultural and traditional. For instance, women are treated unequally at the workplace globally. Despite advances in women empowerment and increased affirmative action towards increasing women representation in leadership, women continue to face systemic and institutionalized economic and social discrimination in business and political circles. Secondly, women globally are not ardent supporters of their kind. While the gender population distribution across men and women has reached parity, at 50.43 % and 49.58 %, respectively, gender inequality is rampant and endemic globally (Statistical Times, 2021). Women continue to be disadvantaged in political, economic, and social spheres, and this disenfranchisement is manifested in leadership circles. In the same vein, women globally are challenge by controlling their negative thoughts, thus slowing down their momentum up the social, economic, and political ladder (Forbes Coaches Council, 2018). This makes women their own worst enemies of progress, which can be manifested in the quest for corporate leadership. Thirdly, women lack robust alliances with decision-makers worldwide (Forbes Coaches Council, 2018). Generally, women cannot access the men’s clubs is the different fields because of sustained stereotyping that they would not add any value to the members and their exploits (Sharma, 2019). Consequently, women lack sufficient examples of women leaders in their midst and are not encouraged to pursue leadership positions by the men and society, thus lacking mentorship and coaching in leadership from an early age. Consequently, women lack the social capital that would enable them to navigate the leadership environment and challenges. These global challenges are not unique to the Emirati women and influence adversely the progress of women leadership empowerment in the future.
However, the western culture is more accommodating of professional women working in male-dominated domains than the Emirati culture, which is based in traditional Islamic and Arabic cultures. In addition, long-held traditions are being overturned in the modern world. The belief that men are created for leadership and women are not is gradually being demystified and challenged. In numerous occasions, women that are as highly-knowledgeable and skilled as their male counterparts have performed equally as or better than men as leaders. Political examples include Angela Markel of Germany, who led largest European economy for 16 years and Jacinda Arden New Zealand who steered her country successfully out of the Covid-19 pandemic using the initial elimination strategy while other large, prosperous, and highly-developed countries struggles (Baker & Wilson, 2022). Therefore, future efforts to promote women leadership in the UAE should overcome the cultural and structural barriers that constrain women from ascending to corporate and political leadership.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Leadership is experiencing unprecedented changes induced by the rapidly-transforming environment, despite cultural, economic, and political challenges. Contemporary leadership is successful when it is contextually-oriented and transformational because it fits and thrives in the different organizational situations while promoting positive change in the followership. Besides, leadership is critical in organizational resilience building, and gender diversity is critical to this endeavor. Therefore, it is recommended that Emirati women aspiring to leadership overcome the cultural and social barriers through continuous learning and forging wide networks that help promote women leadership empowerment. In addition, Emirati women should advocate leadership empowerment among their folk to amass sufficient support to amplify their voice in the public arena. This approach would bolster their decision-making influence in corporate circles.
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