Multi-lingual leadership development programme for Abu Dhabi Police was customised by Ashridge Executive Education team for Senior Leaders, Heads and Deputy Heads of Department for Two-three cohorts per year. Five-day intensive residential programme at Ashridge was chosen to help support leadership development initiatives within ADP.
Major General Mohammed Al Menhali, Director of Police Operations and Human Resources for the Abu Dhabi Police (ADP) speaks about this experience at Ashridge
How would you summarise Abu Dhabi’s development and growth?
As the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi has grown exponentially over the last two decades. We have a multiculturally diverse, incredibly safe and highly cosmopolitan city with a population of more than 1.6 million growing at an average annual rate of 4.7%. We are also attracting and growing a significant (1.8 million visitors in 2010) business and tourist economy.
What are the priorities for the Abu Dhabi Police?
Our priorities are to maintain security and safety for all, make roads safer, control crime, take more of a community-based approach in order to help build confidence in our services, and support Abu Dhabi in its creation of the most open, efficient and safe business and tourist environment possible. We are committed to developing our people and capabilities to achieve this. Abu Dhabi is one of the safest cities in the world and we want to keep it this way. As a core contributor to the ongoing strategic development of Abu Dhabi’s economy, as set out in the government’s 2030 Economic Vision, our goal is to be one of the most operationally effective police forces in the world.
What is the role of the Ashridge programme?
The programme is helping us to achieve our organisational goals by helping us adapt our leadership style to be more ‘relational’ and ensuring we continue to get the very best from our 36,000 employees. In addition, we see it as a way of helping maximise our operational effectiveness to help us deliver the best possible service. The programme content works in conjunction with (and helps embed) our new competency framework which encourages leaders to be more engaging, passionate, innovative and motivating. Engaged people go the extra mile, have high morale, take risks and rise to challenges as well as being able to follow orders when required.
The programme is part of an initiative that aims to develop the skills and flexibility necessary to meet our future challenges.
What impact is the programme having?
As well as developing the rounded leadership abilities of the participants, it is encouraging knowledge, behaviour change and different ways of thinking to be cascaded through the organisation, via our leaders – sustainably, and without external involvement. Long-term, the impact and ROI of the programme will be measured in areas such as effectiveness, engagement and crime figures.
How have you found the delivery and working with Ashridge?
Many people have been surprised by the programme – it has the potential to be transformational! Ashridge offers a flexibility and approachability that is unique. Its strength lies in translating current thinking into practice. We particularly value the integrated style of delivery and its understanding of relational leadership within the Emirati cultural context. The Ashridge Middle East team, which includes Rory Hendrikz who lives in the UAE, is very culturally aware. Ashridge also has an office in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, and therefore offers a regular contact point and a very close and accessible client relationship. Together with Ashridge we have designed the programme to be experiential and interactive. This works extremely well in our culture, keeps people participating and engaged and helps overcome linguistic challenges. We are closely involved with the Ashridge team to plan, constantly fine-tune and improve the programme so that the participants get the best possible experience. The involvement of the most senior leaders in Abu Dhabi Police shows the level of trust that is developing between our two organisations. It’s a very healthy relationship based on open and honest dialogue.
The Programme Process And Design
WHEN DESIGNING a tailored programme for clients in the Middle East, understanding the culture and specific learning preferences is as important for the success and smooth-running of the programme as getting the content right. Designed to maintain a good flow and to limit the need for simultaneous translation, (which we find works best when used in moderation) the programme uses framing inputs, group work, experiential exercises and discussions to aid the learning and knowledge transfer back to the workplace. The programme is residential at Ashridge: ADP felt that taking participants out of their everyday environment would give that all important (and yet rare) time and space to build strong relationships. All materials are prepared in Arabic and English (everything from programme workbooks to signage around Ashridge). There is a dedicated coffee lounge serving Arabic coffee 24/7 and Middle Eastern catering. Arrows pointing to Mecca and Arabic TV channels are also provided in every bedroom.
Ashridge has developed an understanding of leadership in the Arab culture including Arab learning styles, and always strives to translate current leadership thinking into local practice. We offer a model of leadership based on a relational (rather than mechanistic or transactional) view of human interaction and organisation. This supports the direction of leadership that the Abu Dhabi Police are embracing.
The Programme Design
The Programme Is Structured Around Three Key Areas:
- Personal leadership style and influence
- How to build teams and motivate people
- How to create a common language within the organisation
Ashridge is committed to providing customised programmes for the Middle East that genuinely make a difference. We are currently carrying out a number of regional research programmes to help fine-tune this and other programmes in moving forwards.
- Boosting morale, engagement and motivation to achieve the organisation’s efficiency goals
- Creating a focus on ‘relational’ leadership which cascades through the organisation
- Increasing self-awareness – vital for effective leadership
- Embedding our new competency framework and initiating its roll-out across all departments
- Refreshing specified performance management skills
- Enabling relationships to be built across the organisation and for people to get to know each other
- Helping create a sense of shared purpose and common leadership language
- Playing a significant role in making changes within ADP which supports the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.
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