Business, Connection, Development, Leadership, Learning, Organisational Change

Long-Haul Leadership and Testing Theories


I’m going to Qatar.
A place that I couldn’t spell up until a week ago. ( Q followed by U, surely?)

I’m going to work with Maersk Oil over the next 9 months, on a very part-time basis, designing and delivering work that will strengthen a concept of “Visible Leadership”.
The intention is to undertake deeper leadership work – work on connection, on dialogue, on openness and creativity… work I have been hungry to do for so long and have been doing in patchy little pieces. This is, to some extent, what I have been seeking…. my theory is that this deeper work is good, necessary, that it leads to “Proper Change” – I wonder if I’m right?
This is the test. The part where I practice what I’ve been preaching. The part where reality bites and I discover the edges of my thinking again…..
What happens if and when lots of people open up and start connecting… in a structured, purposeful way?
What happens indeed?

Today I leave for 5 days. In May I go for 4 weeks, then nothing in the hot summer months. Then back again in September, October, November….

And with all of this comes a range of mixed emotions and reactions.

I’m scared. I’ve never been to the Middle East. No amount of research will help my lived experience.. I’m afraid I will offend, be offended, be ignorant. I’m a card-carrying amazonian feminist going to a place where women are not equal. I’m a alcohol afficienado going to a place where such things are forbidden. Where the law allows lashing and stoning people. Where the people are deemed to be polite and warm….It’s confusing.

Thus far, the experience has been incredible – A man called Barrie has been in charge of sorting my flights, accommodation, visas, pick-ups…. I have been in the most excellent hands & I’m comforted by the process: this is how it can be when you want to bring someone in to your organisation.

I feel awkward – a wee Lassie fae Fife, lacking sophistication or the experience to do this well, initially – but who has the life-skills to navigate whatever is to come.
My response has been pedestrian – read up lots, chat to folk lots, buy trousers & decide that I’m going to try to Rock some 1930’s/ 40’s tailoring to start with…. My first pair of girl-brogues have been brought into the fold.
Beyond that I have a sense of deep joy – of stretching myself and of being pushed out of what is comfortable.
I’m looking forward to Souks, to the museums and art – to learning more about another country & culture. I’ve decided to take those photography lessons, at last…

I spoke with FB’s very own Office Goddess, Katie on Thursday and she said: It’s OK to be excited, you know….
and I sort of am, but also not really…excited doesn’t really cover it.

I have a sense that I’m going somewhere fascinating, to do work I want to do. I have a sense of folk cheering me on where I feel my limits and nervousness.

And within all of this I have a sense of a new chapter beginning…and probably a bunch of new blogs.

Time to get testing….

24 thoughts on “Long-Haul Leadership and Testing Theories”

  1. Hi Julie

    I work for Maersk Oil (UK and global) and they are wonderful!

    They are a very relaxed group of folk so you will be in great hands. I went to Kazakhstan twice with them and came back twice! 🙂

    Have wonderful trips – if you need anything from the inside, please let me know – I’m here if you need me.

    Take care



    1. Hi

      Yes. I’ll be in touch…. Would love a coffee & a chat as I orientate myself well. Thank you for the offer.

  2. Good luck Julie, it’s a wonderful opportunity for you, and you are just made for it. I get a sense from your blog of you being a ‘Lone Ranger’ on this one which, if true, must understandably be adding it’s own level of challenge to the ‘test’. But only “initially” to use your word, which is a a great way to look at this great big crazy life changer for you. Go for it in those lovely Scottish brogues, Captain Courageous!

    1. Mac, you are a true gentleman & you nearly made me cry.
      Thank you.
      I will wear my brogues & think of you on the first day. X

  3. I have been to Qatar, it won’t be a problem, very nice and civilised. If you want to be put in touch with someone living out there then let me know. You must do a desert safari, it’s excellent.

  4. Hey there – now the new shoes make sense (and lovely shoes they are too). Sounds like a great opportunity that I’m sure you’ll excel at. I look forward to seeing your updates (and hearing them over a glass of wine would be good too, obvs!).

    You’ll do an amazing job as always…
    Speak soon

    1. Hi darling…. I’m slightly in love with the new shoes…
      Thank you for your kind words. I know you have worked in far less familiar places than Qatar and yes, wine and conversation to hear more….

  5. Julie, what a fabulous opportunity which you will be great at. Spent many long holidays in UAE with my children over the past 14 years (Mr. W is in oil and gas industry) Always felt safe, people are very friendly and courteous, there’s loads to see and do, and you’ll definitely have lots of pictures! Enjoy. Vera

    1. Thank you, Vera.
      Yes. It feels Ok. Bit less strange than I anticipated….and still a learning curve, massively.

  6. Hi Julie,
    Great to hear you’re coming out here. Drop me a message through LinkedIn or directly and happy to talk you through everything if you wish. This is my third time out here (have been back just over a year now) so can help with some of the (mis)concepts:) Best, Julian

    1. Looking forward to seeing you. Thank you SO much for organising a night out and getting in touch…. We’re a long way from Edinburgh. Will be good to catch up x

  7. All the best on this new adventure. Can’t wait to hear on how you triumphed!! Go you (cheering you on at the departure gate)!

  8. Congratulations on the project, what a great opportunity with contact over an extended period of time, making long lasting changes….
    Looking forward to your blog and reading about your experiences, keep us up to date about the brogues !

    You’ll be a star !

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