Etisalat Company’s Leadership and Change Management

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Etisalat is a telecommunication company that has been in existence since 1976. After its establishment, the company has continued growing and gaining popularity in several parts of the world. Although the company was partly under the ownership of Aeradio Limited, ownership was later transferred to the government of the United Arab Emirates. On the other hand, the leadership style is critical to the overall success of the organization.

Leaders in the company understand that with the right leadership styles, the company grows and achieves the desired goals. Among the five leadership styles, which comprise participative, autocratic, transformational, transactional, and laissez-Fare, leaders in Etisalat have utilized those that are effective. Etisalat leaders analyzed include Eng. Saleh Al Abdooli, the CEO, chief technology officer, Hatem Bamatraf, chief strategy officer, Khalifa Hassan, Khamal Shehadi, the chief legal and regulatory officer, and Serkan Okandan who is the chief financial officer. The main purpose of this paper is to examine the leadership styles employed by the leaders at Etisalat and apply leadership theories in assessing their accomplishments.

Overview of the Company

Established in 1976, Etisalat has continued rising to be one of the leaders in the telecommunication industry. The company operates in more than 15 countries and enjoys a steady consumer base in the United Arab Emirates, Asia, and the Middle East. Although the company began as a joint-stock company, it later transformed into a telecommunication service provider. The transformation took place in 1991 when the government of the UAE gave it permission to execute and offer communication services.

Moreover, the company’s ownership changed from a joint organization owned by UAE partners and Aeradio Limited, which is a British company into full ownership of the UAE. While the government took over 60% of the company shares, it traded the remainder to the public. Therefore, the company is under the ownership of the UAE. Khaleej Times (2015) states that in 2015, Forbes Magazine ranked the company as one of the best and leading telecommunication providers in the UAE.

Some of the services offered by the company include telecommunication, internet services, sim card manufacturing, and provision of television services popularly known as eVision. Some of the popular moves that transformed the face of Etisalat as an internet provider in the UAE region comprise the introduction of Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH). Some of the internet services offered by the company include 3G, 4G, and WI-FI hotspots facilitated by iZone.

These services, alongside other non-communication services, make the company a success and a leader in the UAE. The market share enjoyed by the company under the guidance of the aforementioned leaders became evident when the company presented AED 8.3billion as its net profit in 2015 (Etisalat, 2017). Although the presence of Etisalat is not felt in external markets, the company has initiated Point of Presence (PoPs) operations in places such as Amsterdam, Paris, New York, and London to address the increasing demand in these regions.

Leaders and Their Leadership Styles

Eng. Saleh Al Abdooli

Eng. Saleh Al Abdooli is the CEO of Etisalat company. The leader is one of the most successful in the company, having propelled Etisalat Mirs to much-desired success. He is one of the highly educated individuals and is among the first people to acquire an engineering degree in the UAE. Since his association with the company in 1992, Eng. Saleh has become one of the best leaders in the company, an aspect that triggered his promotion to the present position in the management of Etisalat.

According to Etisalat (2017), during his time in the Etisalat, Eng. Saleh Al Abdooli engineer has imitated a number of ventures that have facilitated the progress and success of the company. All through his time in the mobile systems department Eng. Saleh demonstrated superb guidance and leadership. One of the main styles that are evident from the engineer comprises transformational, transactional, and participative.

Innovation, teamwork, and inclusive participation are some of the features that coin the presence of transformational, transactional, and participative leadership in the styles employed by the engineer. From his activities, the engineer undertakes his activities in an all-inclusive manner and ensures that all his team members participate in airing opinions that can amplify the quality of services delivered by the company.

Fay, Shipton, West, and Patterson (2015) assert that innovation does not take place in the absence of teamwork, inclusivity, and transformation. Therefore, to achieve creativity in the company, engineer Saleh motivates the employees and gives incentives in the form of rewards so that the employees work hard and deliver the best. By offering rewards and incentives to best-performing employees in the company, he, in a way, exercises transactional leadership. The style of leaders also enables him to place organizational goals and work collectively with his team members to achieve them, a factor that has enabled the company to roll out various ventures that match consumer expectations.

Hatem Bamatraf

Hatem Bamatraf is the chief technology officer at Etisalat. Hatem joined the company in 1995 and has since served in several departments within the company. Together with other individuals in the company, Hatem has managed to accomplish a number of tasks that facilitated the success of the company. Some of the departments where Hatem worked include GSM section, where the focus was to position the communication services of the company. The initiatives undertaken by Hatem were in tandem with those of other leaders in the company. These initiatives collectively focused on meeting the demands advanced by consumers in the UAE region.

Fundamentally, the leadership styles utilized by Hatem comprise transformational and participative. The success witnessed in the initiatives undertaken by Hatem in Etisalat Company is the outcomes of transformational and participative styles of leadership. During his time in the company, he has ensured that those under his leadership undertake their duties in a motivated and successful manner. According to him, employees need motivation without which they cannot deliver, and client satisfaction becomes unattainable (Etisalat, 2017). Therefore, he brought his employees together and ensured that they came up with innovative ideas that propelled the company to great heights.

Through a participative leadership style, employees working under and together with Hatem get the chance to present their views and suggestions that may be useful in meeting the goals laid down by the company. As a seasoned leader, Hatem believes in servant leadership and works hard to ensure that those under him do not look at themselves as employees but as part of the team. Through teamwork and positive attitude inculcated in the minds of the employees, the overall success witnessed in the initiatives undertaken by Hatem is superb.

Khalifa Hassan

Chief strategy officer, Khalifa Hassan, is another topmost leader in Etisalat Company who has renowned achievements. Although Khalifa is still young in comparison with a number of his colleagues, he has proved to be the best. Apparently, the position held by Khalifa, which is strategizing, is one of those positions that call for continued research and innovation (Kolachi & Akan, 2014). The fact that modern clients are trendy and dynamic implies that the position held by Khalifa determines the success of the company. A wrong decision in his department can lead to dire outcomes in the company.

To ensure that the end service is in line with the requirements of clients, the ICT department, which is under the leadership of Mr. Khalifa, always should make the right choices. Apparently, since Khalifa is young, unlike a number of his older counterparts in management positions, he resonates well with modern consumers who are ever-changing.

The success demonstrated by Mr. Khalifa in the ICT sector presents leaderships styles that include transformational and transactional. Without application of these styles, the operations undertaken by Mr. Khalifa would not materialize. To take effect, these operations in the field if technology requires intensive consultation and continuous research in order to convert client needs into finished products.

Research and consultation are issues that call for transformational and transactional styles of leadership. The need to apply the leadership styles transpires because they compel leaders to motivate their employees and encourage them to think outside the box and come up with new ideas. Out of the styles employed by Mr. Khalifa, the employees working in Etisalat get the morale the think critically and devise new ideas that enable the organization enjoy success and lead in the field of telecommunication. It is fundamental to outline the fact that transformational and transactional leadership advance innovation and inclusivity as their main cornerstones. These cornerstones are evident in the leadership styles practiced by leaders such as Mr. Khalifa.

Khamal Shehadi

Khamal Shehadi, the chief legal and regulatory officer of Etisalat, has the task of looking into the opportunities that exist within the regulations and policies developed by the government of the UAE and other stakeholders regulating the telecommunications industry. As the chief regulator of the company, Khamal provides expert advice on the various strategies that the company should employ in order to play along with the regulations that govern the services offered by Etisalat (Etisalat, 2017).

The wealth of experience held by Khamal, which ranges from his service in Lebanon, as the CEO of the regulating authority, to Connexus Consulting where he worked as the managing director. The experience acquired all through the period has been instrumental in helping Khamal provide advice that propels the company towards success.

To ensure that his policies and expert advice are successful, Khamal utilizes participative and transformational styles of leadership. All through his tenure in companies such as Connexus Consulting and Etisalat as well as in Lebanon, he has practiced the styles of leadership and helped the companies and country to succeed in their endeavors. Without these types of leadership exercised by leaders like Khamal, the company would not be a leader that it currently is in the telecommunication industry.

The benefits, which accrue in the aftermath of utilizing transformational and participative leadership, are very crucial in helping the company attain consumer satisfaction and grow in line with market dynamics. Apparently, Khamal uses his position to create strong, motivated, and creative teams that have collective objectives. According to Fay et al. (2015), development of strong teams is a good ingredient that facilitates success and prolonged life cycle in an organization.

Serkan Okandan

Serkan Okandan who is the chief financial officer plays an important role in the overall management of the company. Since his entry into the company, Serkan has demonstrated a wide spectrum of expertise in the field of finance and as a board member representing the company in countries like Pakistan and Morocco (Etisalat, 2017). Just like other departments in the company, the department of finance is very critical in dictating the progress of Etisalat.

Therefore, the company needs an individual who has the requisite expertise in matters that relate to finance and wise decision-making. By utilizing the skills of an expert like Serkan, the company is in a better position to minimize expenditure and increase revenues and profits. Moreover, through the skills introduced by Serkan, issues relating to procurement and supply that at times occasion unexpected overhead costs become minimal.

The position held by Serkan is one that compels him to practice Laissez-Fare and autocratic leadership styles. Apparently, because his position does not need lots of consultation with junior employees, the application of Laissez-Fare style of leadership becomes practical. Khaleej Times (2015) explain that autocratic and Laissez-Fare styles of leadership utilize command and little supervision, which are essential in the executing operations in the department of finance. Although Serkan at times consults with his colleagues at the management level, he exercises Laissez-Fare and autocratic styles of leadership to undertake a number of his duties. Apparently, teamwork and collective decision-making are not applicable in the department held by Serkan, a phenomenon that calls for autocratic and Laissez-Fare leadership.

Achievements of the Analyzed Leaders

The aforementioned leaders have achievements that have enabled them to propel Etisalat to its present position. Eng. Saleh Al Abdooli, the CEO, has achievements, which comprise the launching of 3G network in Africa and the Middle East. Ahmad (2014) alludes that the launching of the network in 2003 was among the best achievements associated with Eng. Saleh.

It is core to outline the fact that development of 3G in Africa and the Middle East is one the achievements that changed the usage of internet and increased the consumers of services offered by Etisalat in the respective regions. Consequently, the significant achievement undertaken by Hatem Bamatraf, who is the chief strategy officer, is his successful role in the development of a commercial network. With his participation, development of the commercial network took place in only six months, a phenomenon classified as the fastest development of telecom services globally. The development is one of the factors that placed him on the management position in Etisalat.

The chief strategy officer, Khalifa Hassan, has played a significant role in the deployment of advanced ICT services and Etisalat mobile services. Another achievement associated with Khalifa is the establishment of fiber-based broadband that was a success. The role that he played during the deployment period was significant not only to the company but also in amplifying his reputation. Khamal Shehadi, the chief legal and regulatory officer, has been instrumental in helping Etisalat undertake initiatives that are within the provisions of governing institutions (Etisalat, 2017). The role that he has played in advising the company is significant and places him at the high level of management in Etisalat.

Serkan Okandan who is the chief financial officer has also worked together with the company to provide expert advice on financial matters. Several decisions that have facilitated the success and progress of the Etisalat are significant achievements linked to the initiatives undertaken by Serkan.

Contingency Leadership Theory and the Favorite Leadership Styles that Help Leaders Accomplish their Duties

Contingency Leadership Theory best applies to the case under study. The theory states that the performance of an individual is subject to external and internal conditions that influence an organization. When the conditions are favorable, the performance of individuals improves whereas when the conditions are poor performance decreases. In the contingency theory, the company is explained as an entity that can be influenced by external and internal factors.

According to Taylor and Taylor (2014), contingency theory compels leaders to operate within the prevailing situations. Moreover, theory helps leaders to adjust their operations with regard to the external and internal factors. Smart leaders usually adjust their activities in line with the prevailing factors in the external and internal environment. Notably, application of contingency theory in leadership helps managers guide their employees in a manner that leads to the achievement of goals. When the leaders adjust their workforce in line with the factors that influence their operations, issues that hamper productivity diminish and the performance of employees becomes steady.

In the context of Etisalat, the leadership theory that helped the aforementioned managers succeed in their duties and accomplish them optimally is contingency theory. Leaders in Etisalat understand that their work does not have predetermined formula. Therefore, they overtime adjust their operations in line with the externalities and internal issues that affect the company. Their level of preparedness and awareness creation play a very important role ensuring that the employees maintain a steady productivity. It is practical to note that the leadership styles employed by the company follow the duties that they undertake a reflection that indeed leadership is dependent on the context within which a manager operates. The fact that managers in Etisalat Company utilize the five styles of leadership clarifies the fact that contingency theory best suits the issue under review.

Lessons from the Analyzed Company

Some of the lessons that emerge after analyzing Etisalat Company espouse the importance of employing the right leadership style and flexibility. The leadership that has propelled Etisalat Company to its present position is highly dependent on the duties that managers undertake. It is practical from the analysis that those managers who engage in interactive activities employ the participative and transformational leadership styles.

By employing these styles of leadership, these managers are in a position of motivating and boosting the morale of their teams to deliver the best. Moreover, the styles of leadership help them interact with their employees and receive ideas that can propel the organizations. Out of the interaction and involvement practical when the leaders employ participative, transactional, and transformational styles of leadership, employees get the drive to work because they feel that they are part of the team.

Fay et al. (2015) claim that the realization by employees that they are a team is very vital in motivating the workforce of any company because it helps them deliver their maximum. Another issue that comes out in the analysis is the issue of flexibility. From the analysis of Etisalat, it is clear that the leaders are ready to adjust and align themselves with the prevailing conditions that influence the organization. The issue of flexibility apparent in the organization is a factor that leads to the application of contingency theory. From the analysis, different duties require different styles of leadership. When faced with the diverse responsibilities the managers adjust and undertake their duties in line with the prevailing situation a factor that modern organizations should incorporate in order to progress and advance their operations.


Leadership styles play an integral role in organizational success. In effect, leadership styles create a distinction between successful and unsuccessful organizations. In Etisalat, managers know that the role played by a good leadership style is crucial. An analysis of managers in the company reveals effective application of correct leadership styles. Another aspect that comes out of the analysis is flexibility. Managers in Etisalat are flexible and apply the styles in line with their respective duties. It is important to explain that the flexibility evidenced by managers in Etisalat facilitates the application of the contingency theory. Therefore, it is conclusive to state that application of correct leadership styles is a factor that has propelled Etisalat to its present level where it is a leader in the telecommunication industry.


Ahmad, S. (2014). Partnering toward internationalization at four Arabian mobile telecom firms. Global Business and Organizational Excellence, 33(6), 51-68.

Etisalat. (2017). Company profile. Web.

Fay, D., Shipton, H., West, M., & Patterson, M. (2015). Teamwork and organizational innovation: The moderating role of the HRM context. Creativity and Innovation Management, 24(2), 261-277.

Khaleej Times. (2015). Etisalat named top telecom company in Arab World by Forbes Middle East. Web.

Kolachi, N., & Akan, O. (2014). HRD role in organizational development (A Case of Corporate Thinking at ETISALAT, UAE). International Business Research, 7(8), 97-160.

Taylor, A., & Taylor, M. (2014). Factors influencing effective implementation of performance measurement systems in small and medium-sized enterprises and large firms: a perspective from Contingency Theory. International Journal of Production Research, 52(3), 847-866.

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