January Spotlight: Colin Johansen Executive Coach

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1. Tell us about you, your time and experience in the UAE

I arrived in the UAE in July 2006 for a six month contract as part of the consulting team to establish the Abu Dhabi Emiratization Council. I immediately fell in love with the country and culture, and therefore at the end of that six month contract I opted to stay on as the COO of the consultancy firm that brought me here.

In 2008 I established my own Executive Coaching and Development practice. In my experience the drive for Emiratisation has seen many very talented UAE Nationals, and other Gulf Nationals, fast-tracked into positions in both Government and the private sector. I have had the pleasure and privilege to work with many of these future leaders and I am constantly impressed with the dedication to their role and also the concept of giving something back to the country.

We work across the Gulf and whilst the challenges are similar in each country, it is vital that we are abreast of the cultural issues of the region, a major mistake of some organisations is trying to impose the Western model of leadership and management without due regards for the local environment.

 2. How would you describe the culture of your business?

The overall goal of Executive Coaching and Development is to help our clients “Be the best they can be”, we use a mix of coaching tools to tailor a unique programme for each individual. A major focus in the business is on building our clients Emotional Intelligence. Over the last five years we have worked closely with Dr Martyn Newman, a world authority on emotional intelligence and use his assessment tool as a basis for our programmes. Emotional intelligence is key driver in developing ones leadership, as we progress in our careers it becomes less about our technical competence and more about our leadership to get the most out of our team and increase both effectiveness and efficiency.

 3.    What are the biggest challenges in the next 5 years?

Over the next 5 years, in fact over the next seven years as we lead up to Dubai Expo 2020, I believe the major challenges will be centered on developing our global competitiveness. A major factor will be the availability to attract, recruit and retain talent. McKinsey’s published their article ‘The War for Talent’ in 1997 to highlight the need for organisations to focus on talent development; it is even more relevant today. The UAE has shown the world that the word impossible is not in our lexicon, if we are to maintain this momentum it is crucial we develop the next generation of leadership.

4.    What are the skills and competencies that you would need to train in order to meet the regions talent requirements.

Lindsay Fox, a leading Australian business leader recently visited Dubai and when asked what impressed him most about the country, simply stated that the Leadership of the country was the most impressive aspect. If we are to meet the challenges ahead awe must focus on developing leadership. I believe the three key ingredients of successful leadership are;

  • Having a vision and the ability to focus on that vision
  • Being able to communicate the vision and recruit followers to the vision
  • The dedication and discipline to execute the vision

We need to continue to develop leadership at all levels and especially with our young people, we can only maintain the growth and development of the region with local talent equipped with the skills to maintain the momentum.