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Lubna Olayan’s Leadership Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 11th, 2019

Major Characteristics

Lubna Olayan is one of the most famous and influential women in Saudi business and all over the world. The woman has become one of the most influential people in the world since her appointment as the chief executive office of the Olayan Financing Company (Sadi & Al-Ghazali, 2009, p. 1). According to Forbes magazine, this Saudi businesswoman has been the first to overcome the barriers that the Eastern women have been facing while entering the business world (Sadi & Al-Ghazali, 2009, p. 1).

In addition, Lubna Olayan is involved into the membership of the International Business Council and the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations. Olayan is also member of the Board at the first venture organization. Judging from the above-presented description, the person possesses powerful leadership skills, because she managed to overcome the male dominance and change the attitude to women in Saudi Arabia.

Challenges Faced By the Leader

It is known that Jeddah Economic Forum is forbidden for women and, therefore, they have to stay in the balcony with no right to express their opinion. All they have at their disposal is the right to submit questions in the written form (Weston, 2008, p. 439). However, Ms. Olayan realized that this barrier should be overcome; otherwise, their right to freedom of speech accepted all over the world would be lost forever.

She was among those brave women who managed to communicate directly with man (Weston, 2008, p. 440). While talking to men, her headscarf slipped back uncovering more of her hair. This picture was presented on the front pages of magazines and it was heavily criticized by male participants of the forum. This was a serious challenge for Ms. Olayan, but her willingness to win was overwhelming.

Aside of taboos imposed on the Muslim women expressing themselves freely, there are also certain limitations imposed on women striving to work and to be promoted in professional terms. In this respect, Mr. Olayan had to overcome job instability in the country to become the head of one of the biggest multinational companies in the world (Weston, 2008, p. 439). Her speech was also connected with the fight for gender equality.

Achievements of Lubna Olayan

At the forum, Lubna Olayan, managed to present the most notable speech that was broadcasted on the Saudi satellite network ART (Weston, 2008, p. 440). In the speech, the businesswoman and acknowledged financer criticized the common belief that it was possible to promote technological advancement without bringing any changes to social organization. She also insisted that, if Saudi Arabia wanted changes, the progress could be achieved through the introduction of social change at different levels (Weston, 2008, p. 440).

In addition to the above, Ms. Olayan has managed to achieve incredible results in business and finance and make the Arab world re-evaluate the firmly established traditions and stereotypes with regard to Muslim women and to the future of Saudi society (Sidani, 2005).

More importantly, Lubna Olayan has contributed greatly to presenting the new status of women in the community, which requires a significant re-assessment of existing social patterns. The dispute has been uncovered between religious and feminist movements forwarding different judgments and arguments.

Leadership Characteristics of Ms. Olayan

Lubna Olayan is powerful leader who has managed to overcome religious and cultural constraints and become the head of the most influential company. She is one of the richest women in the world and she one of the most influential figures ever known outside the United States. Judging from her achievement, she is a born leader who has strictly identified goals and objectives.

The businesswoman also possesses efficient decision-making and problem solving skills. Olayan’s achievements also indicate the leader’s intelligence, high rate of personal energy, and clearly outlined values and beliefs. Decisiveness and self-confident have assisted the leader in coping with the problems of inequality and fighting for the female rights.

Identifying Leadership Style

While considering the description of Olayan’s leadership characteristics, it should be noted that the businesswomen resorts to a combination of authoritarian and democratic leadership styles. Hence, due to the fact that the leader is a good narrator and coach and she is competent in different speech, it was possible for her to motivate other subordinates to learn and advance their skills.

At the same time, the leader is able to rely on workers’ decision and provide enough space for problem solving, which means that democratic means are also applicable to the case. Importantly, because Ms. Olayan has managed to achieve significant results in business management and finance, she makes use of all styles in order to handle each particular situation effectively.


It should be stated that Lubna Olayan is the brightest example of great leadership in the sphere of business management and finance. The businesswoman has managed to make a serious shift in the attitude to women in particular and Arab society in general. What is more important, she can be considered as one of the most powerful and influential leader embracing a number of effective management techniques.


Sadi, M. A., & Al-Ghazali, B. M. (2009). Doing business with impudence: A focus on women entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia. African Journal of Business Management. 4(1), 1-11.

Sidani, Y. (2005). Women, work, and Islam in Arab societies. Women in Management Review, 20(7), 498-512.

Weston, M. (2008). Prophets and princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the present. NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

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