Learning about leadership when it is needed the most

4 minute read

There is no doubt that the impact of Covid-19 on our lives has been catastrophic. Every facet of our day-to-day has been affected in very negative ways, for example, tourism, business and, of course, education. As we are beginning to experience the new normal, I believe that there are lessons to be learnt and that positive solutions can be reached.

I am proud of being the only female heading a private higher education institution in Jordan; a position that forced me to learn more about leadership and positive thinking. Together these skills encourage me to always look on the bright side. Trust me if you believe in positive thinking then no matter what life throws at you, you will always find solutions and live a happier and more fulfilled life.

I always wanted to study in an institution that shares one of my core beliefs, ‘you can never be a good leader unless you truly know yourself’ – that is why the University of Oxford was such a perfect fit for me on so many levels.

Life is about interacting with the society around you, something I love to do with my diploma peers, especially when tackling our subjects of interest. Sharing solutions is always better than sharing problems.

It is an honour to witness how the University of Oxford, a world-renowned institution, deals with the global crisis we are currently facing. The diploma team at Saïd Business School have done remarkably well in communicating with us during this pandemic.

Learning about leadership and change as part of the first module was truly fascinating and I was able to immediately apply what I had learnt to my role at Talal Abu-Ghazaleh University College for Innovation (TAGUCI). The knowledge, skills and confidence gained at Oxford were invaluable during this crisis as we needed to make the transition to e-learning for our students.

In fact, despite being a relatively new university, TAGUCI was among the best universities in Jordan in responding to this crisis, simply because we were well prepared, as was the government of Jordan.

The government set an example in front of the whole world in taking decisive measures to combat the spread of Covid-19. It knew that the health of its citizens was more important than anything else and, despite the sacrifices and challenges, it succeeded.

Allow me to tell you a bit about Jordan, a small country with big dreams. There is nothing wrong with having a dream or two, especially for a country that suffered a lot due to turmoil in neighbouring countries, which led to an influx of refugees suffering from injustice. Jordan hosted millions of refugees despite a lack of means and resources; to do that you need very good leadership.

The leadership of our King Abdullah II is really impressive; he feels that all Jordanians are his brothers and sisters. This, in turn, encouraged us to listen to the government and abide by its regulations in order to save our country from this crippling global virus.

The Armed Forces were on the streets ensuring that the public was staying at home and safe. They also distributed food and medicine to those in need. A very heartwarming story that occurred during this crisis involved some army personnel in a vehicle witnessing a Syrian man yelling for help as his wife was in labour. The personnel rushed to help and successfully delivered her baby boy in their vehicle. Out of sincere gratitude, the mother named her baby ‘Urdon’ (which means Jordan in Arabic). This is just one example of the ways we came together during this disaster, all of which comes under the theme of leadership.

For me, this crisis was a real-life case study that allowed me to immediately apply what I had learnt during the diploma. We spent most of the first module discussing wicked problems and what leadership skills are needed in dealing with these types of issues and how to drive change. Incredibly just a few days later and after learning about leadership and change management, the world faced Covid-19 and its devastating impact. I felt so lucky to have studied these topics before we encountered this pandemic.

The question on everyone’s mind in Jordan: do we want to go back to the same daily lives we had before Covid-19? My answer is no. We need to utilise this crisis to learn, reflect, and improve ourselves as human beings and become kinder, more compassionate and more responsible.