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Immense possibilities exist for entrepreneurs to build successful businesses through supreme effort and a little mentorship, helping us rephrase that age-old adage by saying leaders are not just born, they can also be made

If there is anything that manifest itself over the last year and a half since the pandemic took over our lives, it is the triumph of the human spirit.

The challenges have been many, and failure and loss a sickening constant to remind us that we are humans, mortal and given to err. But, the capacity for humans to face obstacles and surmount them however great the odds, to unite and battle a common enemy as one and present a united front has helped us overcome plagues, purges, world wars and pandemics since the dawn of civilisation as we know it. And the one constant among all these stories of calamities, manmade or otherwise that challenged human existence, and how they were overcome, was leadership.

Be it darkness before dawn or light at the end of the tunnel, leaders be they of organisations or nations have been the source for hope and positive change, for the millions doing shifts at factories and white collar professionals within organisations, and more recently the frontline workers and support staff who battled the pandemic with a smile.

Constant ideation, thinking out of the box, involving and motivating teams to come up with solutions to complex issues never before faced, all hinging on quick and efficient decision making that helped save jobs and lives while ensuring the bottomline wasn’t comprised, was just another day at work for leaders who benchmarked management styles and ethics for the ages.

It’s not to say that the story of leadership itself has not evolved. It has, as has human civilisation over millennia. And in more recent times, this evolution has been expedited, with the industrial revolution of the 19th century and the digital evolution and rise of social media in the 21st, acting not just as catalysts but also dictating very different approaches to leadership and management styles, as the nature of markets and of consumer demand metamorphosed.

Be that as it may, the rules governing leadership have been more or less constant. And the variables, though unwritten are well known among those who choose to exercise them in their quest to lead teams, organisations or nations to new heights of progress, growth and sweet success.

Scholarly articles penned by the foremost in leadership and management thought processes have tried to put it all down in books and treatises. But it is true that there is no greater teacher than experience itself, especially when it comes to advocating leadership and due diligence.

Over the following pages, this special edition on Business Leaders of the UAE does not aspire to be a ready reckoner for the best possible strategy to make any business proposition a success. What it does instead is profile some of the best brains in the business of entrepreneurship who fought to introduce positive change within their organisations, and getting them to reveal their mantras so future entrepreneurs can learn from both their mistakes and successes.

These exclusive interviews with entrepreneurs and CEOs of the UAE, revealing strategies that helped them motivate teams in the darkest of days to strive for and achieve the impossible, are aspirational. We only hope the thriving UAE entrepreneurship community will benefit from these narratives in their quest to create their very own leadership playbook.

Happy reading!