The Arab Disease - Why Saeed must go

The Arab Disease - Why Saeed must go

In the shadow of a huge overpowering tree, a small seedling that had fallen into the ground struggled and strained to look up. It was seeking sunshine. But no matter how much it pushed and peeked, it could not find that nourishing sunlight that it so desperately craved to grow into a solid tree. It died.

It died because the huge, overbearing tree near it hogged the sunlight and cast a shadow over the immediate vicinity around it, so that the seedling was fighting a losing cause. It was bound to die.

History is great friend if you know how to listen to its story. Sadly for most, people tend to be deaf.

Four imminent figures of history, all of them leaders of their people at their respective time of need. All four were destined to write their names in the annals of history.

The only difference is that two of them will be remembered by their people as great situational leaders who, when the time arose, answered the call of their people’s cry. But when their people said enough, they bowed out, even though they did not like it.

The other two saw an opportunity to lead their people but failed to give back the power when they had done their jobs. The result is that one of them destroyed his country for decades to come and the other plunged his into the darkest era that today no one thinks well of him.

In the case of these two people who led their people to destruction, none of their compatriots dared to tell them “no.” Nor where they strong enough to challenge their decisions no matter how destructive they were.

The ones that did, either died a painful death or were so marginalized that they could no longer counted. Both these men made it crystal clear that they would not tolerate dissent.

By now you must be wondering who are these men? And what has it got to do with the Arab disease? More to the point, you might wonder, “What is the Arab disease?”

The first two men were Churchill and De Gaul. They came to power when their people needed them and they did good for their people during the war, but they could not shift their mentality from a war-driven one to that of building a society.

For that, and by the power of the people who would not tolerate their overbearing attitude, they left a legacy that today they are remembered not as the belligerent, obstinate leaders that they became, but as the heroes who heeded their people’s call to save them.

The second two men are Stalin and Hitler. The came to power on the backs of their people rather than for their people and never left until they died taking what they believed was rightly theirs because they created it.

They crushed the only people who could have saved them and their ideas, irrespective of whether they were good or bad. They will always be remembered with great aversion and disgust not only by the people whom they inflicted pain on but even those who might have had supported them at one point. Like a wildfire, they burned everything they touched.

So to the Arabic Disease - today, most, not all, Arabic companies are run as a fiefdom, if not to the horrible magnitude that Hitler and Stalin ran theirs.

Most companies are run by a godfather who will position himself as the only savior of the company and any dissent to his authority will hardly be tolerated. It might take a direct route, if he is overbearing like the tree, or an indirect way because he has a façade that he wants to keep up.

Crushing his opponents is his aim even if he doesn’t state it and ensuring that he lasts forever in his position. Rare is it for him to acknowledge that others can take his place and even rarer for him to give up his seat and retire willingly.

For, after all, did he not create the company? If so, he thinks, why should he retire and allow others to play with the fruits of his hard labor, destroying all that he created? Have you guessed what the disease is?

It is time we learnt from those who are glorified in history and not detested. Our companies are not one-man shows and should never be allowed to be run in such a manner.

We must learn that for new trees to grow, the older ones need to give them space that the sunlight can nourish them as well so when the times comes and the circle of life brings theirs to an end, their successors are ready to take over.

We can learn from nature and from history that Saeed - and here that name means anyone - needs to go. But the important question is, “will he ever go?”

Original Article on Arabian Business