What Aspen Global Leadership Network seminar text has influenced you the most?
I was most influenced by Plato's Republic, Book VII, because it helped me to see how we are all living in a metaphorical cave, with our realities being influenced only by what we know. Once we become aware of this, the challenge becomes leading others into the light.
What is the most difficult leadership challenge you have faced, and how did you respond?
I had to convene 100 top executives from different parts of the world and get them to commit to a common set of priorities. I did this without having direct authority over any of them, and just getting them to the table was a challenge. I proposed each company have one vote in a leaderless council in which they could opt in or out of each initiative. I was able to bring the opt-in rate from 20% to 100% in just six meetings. Everyone realized that though they might have to make some sacrifices they would benefit both themselves and the group as a whole by taking part. This showed me that human nature can be managed for the greater good.
What constitutes true leadership to you?
Leadership is the ability to leverage human nature towards a greater good through a common clear vision, emphasizing the good sides of human nature and redirecting the negative towards the desired outcome. As a very simple example, people's drive to compete and improve themselves, which is derived from a survival instinct, can be combined to achieve prosperity if steered with a clear vision and managed through the power of knowledge, patience, and persistence.
How will your project contribute to a good society?
My project will foster enlightened leadership by creating an academy that offers leadership seminars inspired by the Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellowship in the Middle East. As seminarians start creating change around them at a small scale individually, their collective change will impact the region on a large scale.
What have your Middle East Leadership Initiative classmates taught you about leadership?
I learned about the importance of accepting diversity and difference of opinion, especially in the Middle East, in order to achieve change and progress.