How Sharjah Leadership Programme is shaping new Emirati leaders

  • Thursday 27, February 2020 12:05 PM
Sharjah 24: Aisha Al Zarouni, a Marketing and Events Executive with Sharjah Youth, had an issue at work. She said: “I was having some difficulties dealing with colleagues and maintaining a positive attitude at work due to a high level of stress. Also, a staff shortage made it hard to increase productivity.”
However, help arrived in the form of the Sharjah Leadership Programme (SLP). “It was truly miraculous,” said Al Zarouni. “Participating in SLP improved my personality, leadership skills, creative thinking, communication and my approach to problem-solving. It taught me to think out of the box, how to build long term partnerships with different entities and many other skills. Joining this programme gave me the capabilities I required to overcome challenges and put me on the path to be a successful and influential leader.”

This is precisely the reason why an entry into SLP, developed by Sharjah Capability Development (SCD), a subsidiary of Rubu’ Qarn Foundation for Creating Leaders and Innovators, is so coveted. SCD’s flagship programme targets young Emirati employees working in the UAE’s public and private sectors, to develop their leadership skills and nurture their administrative experience in their respective field of specialisation, while fostering an environment of creativity and innovation in institutions in Sharjah. It has so far benefitted hundreds of professionals in the emirate and turned out to be a game-changer for recent participants like Al Zarouni.

The 11th edition of the Sharjah Leadership Programme, which ran from December 2018 to September 2019, saw the participation of 30 staff members from government entities, semi government and private.

Leading by example
For Alya Al Ghazal, Architecture Engineer with the Department of Town Planning and Survey, SLP was an opportunity to understand the practical application of good leadership every day. She said: “I heard about SLP from my friends who encouraged me to join. My background is in Architecture and Urban Planning – leadership and related topics were not part of my education. SLP bridged that gap for me.”

Al Ghazal added: “The most important lesson I learned was that we do not need a title to assume leadership roles; everybody can be a leader. It is my aim to shine a light on the talents of others, and develop leaders around me, while choosing to practice leadership every day. SLP is more than a certificate; it is a road map showing us the opportunities we must capitalise on every single day.”

Building confidence
Aisha Abdulla Al Mulla, Head of Programme – The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), initially found some of the programme’s tasks overwhelming.

She said: “Our SLP journey culminated with a final challenge, which was to develop our own full-fledged projects. Initially, I was overwhelmed by the requirements and found it challenging to select a project idea. Hence, I opted for a safe choice and went with a minor scale project to improve workflow efficiency in my organisation. But my SLP-assigned coach, Ahmed, turned everything around. Through an insightful brainstorming session, he encouraged me to develop a project closer to my heart.”

Al Mulla explained: “This new-found confidence in my leadership and planning abilities led me to my dream project, which is based on my passion for fitness and nutrition – opening my own indoor soul cycling studio. My coach not only gave me a nudge in the right direction, he insisted that I step out of my comfort zone to follow my heart.”

From that point onwards, Al Mulla was fuelled by passion to work on the project, and everything seemed to just fall in place. “I’ve worked relentlessly to bring my concept to life. With the right business plan, and financial and technical research, I am now in the process of seeing my concept turn into reality.”

The SLP experience benefitted Al Mulla on a personal level too. “The encouragement I received from my coach motivated me to develop my physical skills too,” she said. “I registered and successfully completed a spinning cycling course and I am now a Level 1 certified Spinning Cycling Instructor. I intend to complete the next levels too.”

Going places
SLP also offers the opportunity to learn from international experts and presents excellent networking opportunities. For Alya Al Hebshi, Corporate Communications Manager at Sharjah Asset Management, “SLP was a great platform to meet like-minded people, engage in practical leadership training and meet great mentors. For example, on our trip to Milan, we learnt Creative Design Thinking, and were able to explore the Milan Expo journey and compare its relevance to Expo 2020.”

It also helped build her contacts list. “SLP provided me with one of the biggest opportunities to network and increase my contacts, especially with the Sharjah Government,” she added.

Al Zarouni strongly recommends that all eligible women must join SLP. “It will change your perspective towards work and teach you how to become a successful leader who can contribute to developing the nation,” she concluded.