Wael Allan: Challenges are the source of powerful leadership

Wael Allan, the CEO of Drake & Scull International, describes the traits that define successful leaders

Wael Allan

Power, popularity, and success are often understood as being part of the same package. With the current market climate, a position of power often has little to do with being seen as either popular or successful. Power is more about successful leadership, and that comes with the expectation to take difficult decisions in the best long-term interests of employees, clients, and owners.

Power stems essentially from communicating a vision, and a plan for achieving it. After that, it is about finding the resources and attracting the best people to forge that vision into reality.

The traits that define successful leaders – such as perseverance in the face of setbacks and winning followers – are often the same attributes of those who fail. Maybe that is not such a big surprise. Sometimes we succeed, and at other times we do not. But there can be neither achievement nor failure in a space where outcomes are effortless and predictable.

Success and failure are not opposites, but rather are two sides of the same coin. What matters most, and sets leaders apart, is their willingness to accept difficult challenges, and having the necessary ability to bring people together to overcome these. Goals feel most worthwhile when they are just at the limit of what we think we can achieve, and where we feel we can have a meaningful impact.

There is no better place to realise this than the construction sector in the Middle East. A life in which we are not tested is a tragedy; this is something none of us here will experience. The challenges we face, and the constant achievements seen across the Gulf, are a testament to our ingenuity, resolve, and resourcefulness. We know that this journey is not about reaching a point of perfection. It is about constant improvement through understanding our failures, learning from them, and overcoming them.

However, how we choose to define power, and who holds it, is usually inextricable from the group of people who joined forces to bring a vision to life; a vision that is far greater than any individual. When power commands respect, it is not those who demand it to whom it is given. Ultimately, the only real power is being of value to others.

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