A deep insight into HH The Emir’s #1 Theme

The Emir’s speech at the Advisory Council, in late 2015 set out a lot of initiatives that will have a profound impact on society in general, but at a more specific level, will influence the thinking of businesses, and those working in and for them for many years to come.

The strongly worded speech – which has been well received from all quarters – sets out in very plain terms the direction that the nation as a whole should go in, and that it is not just the responsibility of the government to ensure that it is achieved, but the responsibility and duty of every single citizen.

The Number 1 Theme and focus of the speech was around His Highness’s desire to eradicate all aspects of corruption, mismanagement and abuse, stating “We will not tolerate financial and administrative corruption or abuse of public positions for private purposes, or abandoning professional standards for a personal interest.”

So what does this mean for organisations and for employees at all levels, working in those businesses? Here we take an in depth look, to determine what the impacts are likely to be, and to see what actions people in business need to start doing, and what practices need to be stamped out.

Let’s start from bottom to top.

– Sponsored students: These are those students whom are currently attending universities and colleges while being sponsored by businesses and organisations. This sponsorship takes the form of monthly salaries in return for the likelihood that the students will join the organisation on completion of their studies. Those students who are happily receiving these salaries, while at the same time failing in their studies, dropping courses, or switching the original course to one that is not in keeping with the sponsors desires or interests; are acting in direct opposition to the Number 1 Theme of the Emir’s speech. While there will always be cases where a student struggles in their studies, and has to change their course to one that is more in keeping with their talents and abilities. This should be done 1) with the full knowledge and agreement of the sponsoring organisation, and 2) for the correct reasons, namely to help the student get the best education possible, and not purely because it is seen as an easier alternative.

– Fresh graduates: Here the responsibility lies in both sides. First of all, recent graduates in order to follow the guidelines laid out in the speech need to exhibit certain behaviour. When they join an organisation, they need to ensure that they behave in a professional manner and that they respect the business’ culture, its policies and its procedures. They need to be open to new ideas, willing to listen, adapt and to learn and take on new skills and tasks. They should also be respectful of all of their fellow employees, regardless of their nationality, background and level within the company. Any divergence from this behaviour is working against the Number 1 Theme.

There is also responsibility on the hiring organisation though. They need to ensure that their rotational programs; not only have crystal clear objectives which are known by both the organisation and the graduate; but that they also have concrete outcomes. Management involved with these programs, and in contact with the graduates, need to have both the abilities, and the self-confidence to train them so they are able to do the tasks set them. If they are failing to do this; if they are incapable or unwilling to impart their knowledge, or to keep the graduates not just busy, but busy with meaningful and necessary work, then they are going against the Number 1 Theme of the Emir’s speech.

– Coordinators and Supervisors: Rightly considered to be the most valuable layer in any organisation, these are the engine that gives the power to the ship to move, but also ensure it moves in the correct direction. This layer of employees is characterized as being the most knowledgeable when it comes to an organisation’s policies and procedures as well as working methods and techniques. The main way that these individuals can align themselves to the Number 1 Theme in the speech, is by eliminating the “Yes Boss” manner of operating. This simply happens when they receive illegal or unethical request coming from above, even though they are fully aware that implementing such requests will be contrary to existing policies and procedures or are leading the company to an unethical direction, nevertheless they choose to “please the boss”. Moreover, let’s always remember that there are organisations that use the attendance system just for monitoring emergency evacuation, therefore, passing your access card to a colleague to swipe on your behalf, definitely works against Number 1 Theme of the Emir’s speech. Needless to say, tea boys are there to serve fresh coffee and tea and not to swipe cards on your behalf.

– Seniors and Executives: Knowing about corruption, either an administrative or a financial one, and keeping silent or doing nothing is corruption in its own. Simply ignoring it, is as bad as taking part in the corruption in the first place and should be seen as such. Being in such a senior level comes with it the authority and responsibilities. It is this level within a business who should be the very ones that are ensuring that mismanagement, corruption, and non-adherence to policies and procedures does not take place within the workplace. It is up to these people to lead by example, and to set a level of behaviour that will then filter down and be copied throughout the organisation. Otherwise, the principle “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” is against Number 1 Theme of the speech.

– CEO’s and General Managers: As someone who operates at the highest level of an organisation, the direction and the culture of that organisation are largely down to you. You have to ask yourself, how would you like to be remembered in years to come? How do you want to be written about, not just in the future, but today? Do you want to be held up as an example of how to run a business along the lines laid down in the Emir’s speech, and cited as one of the world’s most ethical CEOs? Or do you want to be talked and written about as someone who ruined the business and gone against the Number 1 Theme? The choice is yours and yours alone. There are many ways in which you and your peers can fall into the second category. These include bias towards one nationality over another; supporting and over promoting undeserving employees merely because they are friends or relatives; attacking high calibre employees to protect and ensure your own job security; awarding projects to self-owned or relatives-owned companies and driving the business in an unethical direction. All of such actions work against Number 1 Theme of the speech.

– Respected Board Members: This is the layer that sets the tone for the values of any organisation. Like the scenarios above, it is down to these members to set the examples as laid down in the speech, and especially the Number 1 Theme. Tolerating any of the above stated behaviours, works against the Number 1 Theme.

Insights to live by

It is important to understand that in the speech, HH The Emir did not single out certain industries or sectors. It was not aimed at just one group of people or level of bureaucracy and it didn’t limit itself to large scale financial and administrative corruption. It was aimed at every single one of us, with no exceptions, no limitations. Another important idea, especially concerning the senior executives, CEOs and board members, it isn’t just a case of making the right noises or saying the right things in different media channels; it is your actions that are by far the most important part of the fight. Your actions, will lead by example, and will result in the whole organisation following the Number 1 Theme. Conversely, if you choose to do nothing, even if you say that you are going to operate ethically, those in the levels beneath you will see through your words, and nothing will change.

The most important, overriding motivation for each and every employee should be to take part in, and win the fight against financial and administrative corruption. It should be a part of every citizen’s DNA. Once that is achieved, it doesn’t come down to losing a seat, or a position, or a pay rise; it solely comes down to ethics and integrity. Those who operate with integrity, and ensure that employees around them work in an ethical manner are the true winners, and will be seen as such.

At the end of the day, there is a bigger picture than your individual success. There is the success and reputation of the organisation, and outside of that, the success and reputation of the nation as a whole. It is about the legacy that you want to leave behind, the ways in which you will be spoken of in months, years and generations to come. That is the main focus in the speech, and it is something that can be, and needs to be taken on board by every single citizen.

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