Redefining Leadership and Hierarchy at Takaful Emart
As numerous sports teams around the world have discovered, signing up a galaxy of talented individuals will only take you so far - it’s often the intangibles that make the sum either greater than the parts, or an underwhelming rabble. Successful collaborations, on the other hand, universally flow from chemistry, culture and effective leadership.
Fadi Hindi was recently appointed as the CEO of Takaful Emarat – the leading Sharia Compliant Life and Health insurance provider in the UAE – and charged, by the company’s board of directors, with a mandate for reinvention and driving digital transformation. His nascent tenure has already been marked by a concerted effort towards empowering a culture of dynamism, progressive practices, innovation and an emphasis on the transformative power of ideas.
Among other mandates, Hindi is tasked with enabling Takaful Emarat to avidly adopting disruptive technologies where appropriate and reimagining the delivery of products and services in keeping with the needs and aspirations of its customers. So how is he getting started?
The first step for Hindi was getting everyone in the organization committed to building strategic differentiation by driving interactive collaboration using an autonomous human resource model driven by the primacy of ideas instead of hierarchy. Takaful Emarat has recently reported a 25% surge in profits for 2017, as compared to the previous year, and 15% increase in the value of its total assets. In my opinion, this resurgence has been borne of a commitment towards evolution in culture.
Empowering collaboration through the creation of community
Realizing that transformation ultimately derives from the seed of inspiration, Hindi has driven the adoption of a team culture that empowers employees to reshape the organization. To this end, Takaful Emarat is pursuing a business environment that nurtures and harnesses the power of collaborative creativity.
To start with, even the physical space of the office has been altered to reflect this approach, through the creation of a new open plan workspace without cubicle walls. Simple but effective details - such as ergonomic office furniture and relaxing modalities of attendance monitoring – are changing the way employees view their relationship with the organization.
In a candid conversation, Hindi also tells me that the whole ethos was to transform employees from a workforce into a community that collaborates towards a common set of goals.
What stood out from all of this is a key demonstration of leadership itself needs to look at itself differently. Moving strongly away from an authoritarian mode, Hindi is leading by example. He was the first one to give up his office and share his personal space with his team on day one at office.
Did this have shock value? Sure, it did. Did it make others feel insecure about having to get out of the confines of their office space? Absolutely! But what ultimately happened, following a brief period of initial resistance to relinquishing preferred filing cabinets, cubicles and printers, the rest of the team also took to the new seating model with considerable enthusiasm.
Interestingly enough, Hindi stuck a deal with his team, to ease the plan in – allow everyone to trial two to three hours a day in an open workspace and have the option to go back to their office for the rest of the time. But what started as a trial, quickly changed the very fabric of the office environment. In no time, people took to sitting next to each other full-time. And we’re not talking side functions here. From finance to legal; marketing to data quality – this new energized community of workers were able to sit across each other to solve problems and reach consensus in minutes as compared to days or hours.
Leadership through empowering consensus
Hindi is quick to add that he does not have all the answers to right leadership. But what he knows and wants is that his leadership should be about empowering his team by being part of it.
Fostering a culture of culture of experimentation and a willingness to embrace change is the starting point of a real transformation journey. And by making a small but high-impact start, Hindi has started everyone on a journey that will allow them to co-create the roles they plan. And for him personally, it’s about reinforcing his belief that true leadership, after all, is leading by example and more about responsibility than authority.
The writer is the Technology Editor and ROI Strategist at Dubai-based CXO Strategies. She can be contacted via twitter @CXOConnectME