Leadership Analysis Historical Context Saddam Term Paper

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2. Leadership analysis of the two former Arab leaders

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Alnahyan and Saddam Hussein were two great Arab leaders that significantly influenced the Arab world, but there is very little resemblance in their leadership styles. As a manner of manifestation, the two had very distinct leadership styles, although their objective was somewhat common: the prosperity and unity of the Arab world.

2.1. General leadership analysis

The two Arab leaders had similar objectives, the unification of the Arab world, but different leadership styles, almost opposite.

Saddam Hussein exerted an autocratic leadership style that consisted in the strict surveillance of his subordinates, informational flows directed mostly up-down, inspiring fear to his subordinates, using fear as a way of control.

In opposition, Sheikh Zayed exerted a democratic leadership style, having as most main traits: sociability, flexibility, cooperation, communication, open spirit and friendly environment. The democratic leadership style is the most complex of all four styles.

Saddam's and Zayed's leadership outlook was completely different. Saddam's leadership was based on strategy, while Zayed's was centered on human aspirations.

These two great leaders' distinct styles of leadership are determined by different factors. Both of them present similar innate characteristics, that they apply completely different. The first important determinant factor is heir upbringing and education. Saddam was raised in a severe environment, he was confronted with difficult, sometimes violent, relationships since he was a child. He followed a military education, that influenced him a great deal. He was surrounded by people that supported nationalism, which determined him to do the same thing. On the other hand, Zayed was raised in a completely different environment. He received a religious education, which influenced his further actions in a positive way.

Another determinant factor is the contextual general situation the two leaders found themselves in. Therefore, Nasser's wave of revolutions determined Saddam to follow his steps and to engage in belligerent activities. Zayed was influenced by a very religious environment, that needed unity.

2.2. Leadership analysis according to Andrew J. DuBrin's theories

Leadership is the ability to support and inspire the people who are needed to achieve organizational goals," as Andrew J. DuBrin describes it in his book. The author also mentions that leadership is only part of management, dealing with change, inspiration, motivation and influence. Other than this, a leader must also plan organize and control. DuBrin states that "management deals more with maintaining equilibrium and the status quo. An important current development is to regard leadership as a long-term relationship, or partnership, between leaders and group members." This definition totally applies to Sheikh Zayed's leadership style, fact proven by his long reign. Unlike Saddam, he was a nonviolent leader, oriented towards peaceful relationships with his neighbors. He was very preoccupied with building a solid, prosper and peaceful nation, and everything he did was oriented in this direction, which is why he is considered to be the father of the nation. This characteristic is shown by the way he managed the tribes, through consultation and consensus, by cooperating with his tribal neighbors, by establishing closer relationships with other emirates and by playing a significant role in forming the United Arab Emirates. He ensured the status quo politically and socially across the United Arab Emirates. This might be due to his religious education, oriented towards peace.

In contrast, Saddam Hussein's entire leadership period is connected to several violent episodes, the most significant being the massacre of 148 people a few decades ago, for which he was trialed and found guilty. His violent nature might be related to his military education, his uncle's and Nasser's strong nationalist influence.

According to DuBrin's complexity theory, that leader have very little influence on changing the organizational system's course. But both Saddam Hussein and Sheikh Zayed prove this theory to be wrong. Not only did they change their organizations' development, but they changed history's course. The difference between the two is that Sheikh Zayed changed the course of history in a beneficial, positive way, while Saddam Hussein had a negative impact on history's course.

Regarding leaders' personal characteristics and skills, DuBrin and other authors agree upon the following: self-confidence, humility, trustworthiness, extraversion, assertiveness, emotional stability, enthusiasm, sense of humor, warmth, passion for the work and the people, emotional intelligence, flexibility and adaptability, courage. One may observe that Saddam Hussein presents very few of these characteristics and personal traits. Saddam's leadership effectiveness relies on the motives related to task accomplishment, especially the power motive, the drive and achievement motive, and tenacity and resilience. He was a very powerful leader, driven by nationalism. His objectives, the unification of the Arab world, needed great tenacity from a leader.

A very important quality for any leader is charisma. But DuBrin, unlike other authors, considers charisma to be an entirely positive characteristic. Others consider that charisma may be either positive or negative, in accordance to the effects it has on people.

Although many people do not consider Saddam Hussein to have had any charisma, like Hitler had, it is obvious that he could not have won so many people on his side without any charisma. His negative charisma attracted many people around him, persuaded them into following his actions, and won their consideration and admiration. Although contested by most, Saddam had his share of admirers.

On the other hand, Sheikh Zayed is an example of positive charisma, proven by the way he managed to unite his tribal neighbors and to surpass the differences between them. His great ability to inspire trust made him the President of the United Arab Emirates and helped him have an important role in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

However, these two leaders are not entirely different as they present certain common characteristics. Both of them were adaptable to the situation, direction setting, high performance standards, and risk taking. Unlike Saddam, Sheikh Zayed had other characteristics, especially relationship-oriented attitudes and behaviors, like: aligning people, creating inspiration and visibility, giving emotional support and encouragement, and promoting principles and values.

Regarding organizational politics, DuBrin's theory is that "carried to extremes, organizational politics can hurt an organization and its members." Saddam Hussein's extreme politics is the best example for this theory.

Another common feature for both leaders is influence, as both of them had the ability to affect other's behaviors in certain directions. The difference is in the manner they exerted their influence. On the one hand, Saddam Hussein used power, cruelty, and violence to influence others in the direction he wanted. On the other hand, Sheikh Zayed exerted his influence through communication. The results they obtain are in Zayed's favor.

Regarding the motivation of the people they worked with, their manner of handling things is different here as well. Saddam used negative, coercive motivation, while Zayed motivated people by setting himself as an example that others followed. Since he is considered the father of the nation, it seems that his methods was most appropriate than Saddam's.


The analysis above revealed that Saddam Hussein and Sheikh Zayed were two opposite leaders, with contrasting leadership styles. Their objectives, however, were similar: both of them desired a united Arab world, free of the Western influence. But the manner they exerted their leadership styles was completely different. Saddam's leadership was based on fear, terror actually, while Zayed's was based on communication, peace, and understanding. One might say the Saddam was the negative leader and Zayed was the positive one. The differences between them are due to several factors: their upbringing and education was completely different and influenced their actions in a significant manner. Also, they had to deal with different situations and different environments, that affect the leadership style.

Reference List

Saddam Hussein (2007). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved March 25, 2007 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddam_Hussein#Secular_leadership.

DuBrin, Andrew J. (2005). Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills. Fifth Edition. Chapter 1: The Nature and Importance of Leadership. Retrieved March 25, 2007 at http://college.hmco.com/business/dubrin/leadership/5e/chapters/chapter1.html.

DuBrin, Andrew J. (2005). Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills. Fifth Edition. Chapter 2: Traits, Motives, and Characteristics of Leaders. Retrieved March 25, 2007 at http://college.hmco.com/business/dubrin/leadership/5e/chapters/chapter2.html.

DuBrin, Andrew J. (2005). Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills. Fifth Edition. Chapter 7: Power, Politics, and…

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