The Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia have experienced considerable transformation with regard to female leadership over the past few decades. Women within the Gulf region are increasingly influencing their country’s growth in different economic spheres (Thomson & Lloyd, 2011).
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For instance, women are increasingly assuming leadership roles, and in a bid to motivate growth of female leadership in workplaces, different institutions in Saudi Arabia are increasingly becoming cognizant of the importance of creating an environment that will lead towards attainment of the same (Al-Banawi, 2012).
One of the issues put in place to promote women leadership relates to cultivating the right cultural understanding and acknowledgement that women can be leaders.
Additionally, respective governments such as the Saudi Arabian government are providing women with the necessary support such as training, finance and legal counsel. One of the areas that women have successfully demonstrated their leadership skills relates to entrepreneurship.
Maria Mahdaly is an example of women who have shown exemplary female leadership in Saudi Arabia with regard to entrepreneurship. This paper aims at illustrating what she did, her accomplishment, and the challenges she overcame coupled with evaluating the reasons for considering her as leader in addition to her leadership style.
Maria Mahdaly identified her business acumen at the age of 15 while still in school. By the age of 19 years, when majority of her peers were struggling to find purpose in life and complete college, she had successfully ventured into self-employment.
She established an online social platform known as Fainak. The enterprise aims at providing young Saudi’s with an opportunity to advance their skills hence increasing the probability of attaining their goals.
The social network is composed of a Newzine, a web, and events. By the end of one year after its inception, Fainak’s membership had increased to 30,000.
One of the factors that have contributed to the firm’s success relates to Maria Mahdaly’s leadership capability. Due to increase in its membership, Maria Mahdaly considered recruiting additional employees to assist in the daily operations of the social platform and thus the firm developed a strong operational team.
Effective leaders enlist the services of other people and Maria did exactly that as aforementioned. Her leadership efficacy has contributed towards Fainak attaining sponsorship from both small and large telecommunication companies because Fainak is in a position to establish a direct link between businesses and youth who are their prime customers.
Currently, Maria is the managing director and co-founder of an innovative media-publishing house known as Rumman. The firm operates as a holding company whose objective is to assist new entities within the producing and media publishing industry.
The firm also aims at supporting the youth to improve the society within which it operates. One of the ways through which the firm attains this is by sourcing its human capital locally. Moreover, the firm has a strong corporate social responsibility, which looks into the interests of the locals surrounding its location.
Consequently, the firm has managed to nurture local talent hence contributing towards the youths’ career success and hence their future marketability (Rumman, 2011).
A leader should have the capability of influencing others to follow him or her. Therefore, he or she should possess leadership traits such as trust, honesty, and being ethical. Additionally, a leader is expected to lead by example. Maria Mahdaly portrays sufficient leadership traits.
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For example, she leads by example. Her leadership effectiveness will play a significant role in developing an enabling environment for entrepreneurial activities and start-up financing. Approximately 60 per cent of the youths who have joined Rumman have integrated the concept of entrepreneurship by establishing their own businesses.
This element illustrates that Maria Mahdaly has been remarkably successful in influencing the youth through her leadership. There is also a high probability of Maria Mahdaly being a role model amongst many Saudi Arabians.
Her leadership ability will substantially contribute towards the promotion of peace, which is critical for entrepreneurship to thrive.
Maria Mahdaly experienced a number of challenges during the process of setting up her first business in Saudi Arabia. It was difficult for her to undertake some tasks that were necessary during the establishment of the business.
For example, she could not hire a female lawyer to assist her with the necessary legal work. Initially, the Saudi constitution did not allow women to take part in making decisions that would affect the public. Additionally, women were prohibited from practicing law.
Therefore, she could only outsource male lawyers. This aspect posed a formidable challenge to Maria because conventionally the Saudi society has been chauvinistic for long, which limited women from advancing their dreams and aspirations.
Currently, Saudi Arabia is experiencing a transformation with regard to cultural limitations. The Saudi government, led by King Abdul-Aziz, has realized that women can play a significant role in the country’s economic growth and this realization has led to increased support for women from the government.
The cultural beliefs regarding women held by most Saudi Arabians when Maria Mahdaly ventured into entrepreneurship also presented a significant challenge.
Most individuals could not believe or accept a woman as their leader. However, this culture has weakened over the past three years. Men are increasingly accepting women in leadership positions.
During the establishment of Fainak, Maria Mahdaly experienced a serious challenge with regard to making the business operational. The firm did not have sufficient staff to assist in undertaking basic business activities.
Additionally, she did not have sufficient skills necessary to ensure that the firm was effectively controlled, and thus the business operations became chaotic.
Due to her commitment in ensuring that the firm succeeds, Maria Mahdaly figured how to control the firm, which increased the firm’s stability.
There are different leadership styles that firms’ management teams can adopt in an effort to steer their organizations towards attainment of their goals. The choice of leadership style is determined by a firm’s goals and objectives.
An analysis of how Maria Mahdaly executes her leadership roles shows that she has adopted transformational leadership style. Schminke (2010) defines transformational leadership as a method of leading by engaging one’s followers. Therefore, transformative leaders can influence the behavior of their followers positively.
In executing their duties, organizational leaders are required to support their followers. One of the ways of achieving this objective is by persuading their followers to develop moral values that will contribute toward attainment of predetermined outcomes.
This aspect markedly increases the probability of the firm attaining its goals. Additionally, transformational leaders also have the tendency of motivating their followers through a number of ways such as being role models. They lead their personal and professional lives ethically.
During the process of establishing her business, Maria Mahdaly faced a challenge emanating from the fact that she did not have sufficient workforce. As a result, she sourced for local talent by undertaking a recruitment exercise.
Owing to her effective leadership, she managed to develop a strong team, which contributed towards the firm success. Her leadership efficacy led to Fainak increasing its membership to 30,000 in a span of one year.
Over the years, Maria Mahdaly has managed to influence others with her leadership acumen. This aspect is well illustrated by the fact that she has attracted numerous sponsors, especially large organizations whose operation have been influenced by her innovativeness and leadership skills.
An analysis of female leadership in Saudi Arabia illustrates that women are increasingly adopting leadership roles. One of the factors that have led to this transformation hinges on the fact that an enabling environment for women leadership is being developed.
For example, the Saudi government is promoting women to take leadership positions; moreover, the constitution currently allows women to take up professions such a law, which were previously a preserve of men. Maria Mahdaly is one of the women who have illustrated effective female leadership.
Her ability to establish a successful business venture illustrates that she is an effective leader. Leadership is one of the components for a business to succeed, and by establishing an online social network; Maria Mahdaly has managed to influence the lives of a large number of youths in Saudi Arabia.
For example, through her social platform, Maria Mahdaly has successfully transformed lives of Saudi Arabia youths by motivating them to venture into entrepreneurship.
Despite experiencing challenges during the business establishment phase, Maria Mahdaly has remained focused to her goal. Her success as a leader arises from the fact that she has adopted transformational leadership, which is highly effective in influencing others.
Al-Banawi, H. (2012). The unknown leader: discover the leader in you. London, UK: Kogan Page.
Thomson, P., & Lloyd, T. (2011). Women and the new business leadership. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Schminke, M. (2010). Managerial ethics: Managing the psychology of morality. London, UK: Taylor & Francis.