steve cockram at majlis mbz 2023
Steve Cockram at Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: Hailing the UAE dream for progress and happiness, a top leadership consultant urged individuals to prioritise their wellbeing and influence as they seek to lead others in a digital world.

Speaking at the final Ramadan 2023 lecture in the Majlis Mohamed Bin Zayed series, Steve Cockram, co-founder of GiANT leadership consultancy, said leaders today face multiple challenges that are a product of the rapidly changing digital world.

The final lecture was attended by Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

sheikh saif, sheikh nahyan at majils mbz
(third from left) Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan. To his right is Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan. Image Credit: Supplied

“This digital revolution is rapidly changing the world, and this speed of change will only increase. There is no playbook as leaders face these unique challenges. But the ability to solve these complex challenges will determine organisational success as we move further into the digital age,” Cockram said.

“I see the desire for [excellence] in your nation, and read so much about your country’s drive for advancement. Your leaders will therefore have to grasp the opportunities to shape the new world, just as every leader will need to solve key challenges in order to thrive,” he said.

Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed is an ongoing series that aims to address topics relevant to those living in the UAE through conversations with leaders and experts. The 2023 Ramadan lectures focussed on the unprecedented challenges and opportunities amid the evolution of society, culture, and technology.

Top challenges

Cockram shared one of the top challenges for leaders is how to stay emotionally and physically healthy in a world where work never stops.

“Many leaders are still attempting to work an industrial day and a digital day in the same 24 hours. Where industrial days had clear boundaries and transitions, the digital day does not. Smart phones and computers mean that we are always reachable and able to work. The inability to truly switch off is having a profound impact on the mental health and wellbeing of leaders, as well as their families and employees. In fact, the World Happiness Report cites that happiness has decreased year-on-year since 2011,” Cockram said.

The consultant therefore urged residents to use a mental tool called ‘Five Gears’, which can allow individuals to be intentional about how they use their time. He also urged potential leaders to lead through influence rather than through position or title.

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Need for self-awareness

“No individual, however talented, now has the capacity to solve complex problems on their own. Consequently, high performance teams are far more valuable than talented individuals. Leaders now need the ability to harness the superpowers of each team member to create synergy and minimise conflict. Self-awareness and relational intelligence are now far more valuable than raw IQ, and humility is a prerequisite,” Cockram explained.

He recommended that leaders therefore allow each member of their team to feel truly heard, valued and appreciated.

Cockram also highlighted that a positive organisational culture can help attract and retain top talent, both for organisations and nations.