Leidar study on UAE family businesses’ corporate leadership communications shows opportunity with sustainability

Rolf Olsen

June 26, 2018

UAE conglomerates and businesses could be more strategic in their approach to communications, suggest the findings in research and analysis performed by Leidar. The study highlights communication on ambition and action on sustainability as a key opportunity, and that very few companies in the region take a clear stance with a publicised agenda on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Leidar recently launched its proprietary “Leadership Navigation: Communicating Corporate Leadership in the UAE” study at an event with the Swiss, Norwegian and other Business Councils in Dubai.  The consultancy combined findings of a leadership attributes survey and how senior UAE-based company executives performed on these attributes, with a thorough analysis of the UAE family businesses’ online communication as this is evident through their website and social media presence.

“As experts in sustainability strategies, we were very pleased to learn from our leadership survey that sustainability is often discussed internally.  Yet our analysis of 21 UAE family businesses, the nation’s main employers and key drivers of the UAE’s economy, shows that in their external communication they could do much more to align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda”, says George Kotsolios, Managing Director of Leidar´s office in the UAE.

“Corporate citizenship is increasingly important in a global marketplace.  Whether your business is to represent many international brands, or to have a distinct international brand you need to be clear on who you are and why people should care about you,” adds Kotsolios.

For the purposes of the two-pronged study, Leidar questioned 200 mid-level managers from 40 different industries includingInfrastructure, IT & Financial Services, Marketing & Media, Servicesand Education, Real Estate and conducted a benchmarking analysis of 21 of the top UAE family businesses from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

“We identified a gap between what top executives focus on and what their middle management want and need to hear about.  The same gap is also apparent in the external communications, especially of the UAE family conglomerates which we benchmarked in our study. Today both internal and external audiences want to focus more on the subjects that are emotionally engaging and create a strong bond with the company,” said Dr. Lukasz Bochenek who oversaw the Leadership Navigation research and analysis.

“Sustainability is one critical area, as it matters as much as the vision, mission and values statement; it needs to be woven in the corporate narrative and is essential in terms of how employees and customers relate to a company.  To be engaging and distinct becomes a must to succeed in the increasingly complex global competitive landscape,” he added.

Leidar will continue to monitor progress on its proprietary Communicating Corporate Leadership study and expand it to include family businesses in other key GCC markets to be able to reach useful conclusions for a region wide analysis. It will also benchmark the regional findings with those in Europe and the Far East.