Working in Cairo made me cry — and not for reasons you might imagine.
In September 2013 and September 2014, I worked with over 50 leaders from Maersk’s brands across Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Egypt (including Suez Canal Container Terminal, Egyptian Drilling Company, Damco, Seago, SafMarine, and APM Terminals).
We met in Cairo. One of the things we worked with is: in a period of great instability, how can leaders create stability and calm for ourselves and our employees? What daily practices contribute to an uplifting working environment when things seem to be crashing down around us? How do we build resilience — for ourselves & our teams?
In situations like these, my contribution is not as a teacher or instructor. Instead, I listen, facilitating new discussions in the leadership team, highlighting their strengths, asking them questions so they discuss as a group what they’ve tried, what’s worked and what needs to be said and hasn’t been.
Our work in 2014 confirmed multiple successes in 2013, especially when participants in the 2014 session clearly articulated a regional purpose or vision statement we’d created in the session the year before. They didn’t know the vision had come from similar meetings; it was a part of communication in their offices. Having a clear, meaningful vision or “Why” motivated and united them in the face of daunting challenges, especially because it highlighted the significant contribution their work makes to the region.
I left Cairo with a renewed sense of the importance of leaders in setting the tone in our offices today. We can be safe havens and oases for each other in otherwise volatile and uncertain times. Maersk & its holdings generate a significant percentage of the gross national product for Egypt, especially considering revenue generated through container ship passage through the Suez Canal. For more information see: http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/08/11/worlds-largest-container-ship-crosses-suez-canal/
It was an honor to witness the courage and stamina leaders across the region bring to their work.
This work was conducted as part of an organizational transformation and leadership development course I’ve been privileged to lead for nearly 8 years with AP Moeller Maersk and all its brands. It is a pleasure and honor to work with the company’s leaders the world over.