Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. MB ChB, MPH, DrPH (Harvard) Professor of Medicine & Director, Training Center, International Islamic University PO Box 70 Jln Sultan PJ 46700 Telephone 60 3 755 3433 fax 60 3 757 7970 Seminar on ‘Building Leaders of the Community,’ Madrasah Wak Tanjomg al islamiah, Singapore  31 May-1 June 1996


This paper discusses the nature, importance, functions, and orientation of leadership. Everybody plays some leadership role and everybody can be trained to be a better leader. The paper discusses how leaders make a change by using leadership power (personal and formal), influence, and credibility. Leadership styles as well as types of leaders are presented and are examined critically.




Leadership is the single most important determinant in organizational success. Good leadership leads to success; bad leadership leads to frustration and failure. One of the harbingers of doom is to place leadership authority in the wrong hands (1,2).


All members, supporters, and sympathizers of the organization are stakeholders who are concerned about success and failure of leadership.


Leadership is a pre-condition for civilized existence. Any group of 3 or more must have a leader. Absence of recognized leadership means chaos to the detriment of all (3,4).




Leadership is the process of influencing people and making them do certain things. It is both an art and a science. It has rational, emotional, intuitive and instinctive dimensions.


Leadership involves moving followers in a certain direction mostly by non-coercive methods. Successful leaders get voluntary cooperation from followers.


Good leaders deal with their followers honestly and are up front.


Good leaders persuade and do not command. Fear and authority are not leadership. Leaders who depend only on authority and coercion do not go very far.


Poor leaders by contrast manipulate their followers. Manipulation is getting a person to do what they are not aware of or do not want to do.


True leadership is more service than domination. The leader is the servant (Sayyid Al Qawm Khadimuhum).


Leadership is both a science and an art. A few leadership skills are innate but most are acquired by trial, experience and education (5).


There is a dynamic interaction between the leader, the followers, and the situation. A leader of one group of followers may not be able to lead a different group. A leader in one situation may fail in another one.


Leadership may be formal and legalistic or informal.


Roles of leaders and followers can be interchanged. A leader may be a follower of a more powerful leader. A good leader must therefore also be a good follower.




Leadership involves the following specific functions: setting and communicating visions, goals, and objectives; representing followers; directing, coordinating, and integrating; influencing, mobilizing, motivating, creating enthusiasm and optimism; providing services and making a difference.




A leader is a public figure and has to accept more invasion of his privacy than  an ordinary person.


It is important that people know enough about his private life to be assured that he is not involved in any activity that is incompatible with leadership position.


The leader must be accessible at all times and can not claim privacy as a reason for not carrying out leadership functions


The followers must however have some consideration for the leader and his family. They must give him some privacy so that he can lead an ordinary life (6)




Good and effective leadership is a source of greatness (ab'qariyyah). Great movements and changes in history are always associated with great leaders. Intended here is real, genuine, moral, and competent leadership based on character and integrity and not the phony leadership that thrives on propaganda, deceit, and manipulation.


Bad leaders are motivated by power alone. They just like the exercise of power. Good leaders have higher motivation. They want to use leadership power to improve and make a change.




The Prophet Muhammad and the 5 rightly-guided khulafah after him are, and other illustrious leaders in history are a model of ideal leadership (7). They led according to the dictates of the noble teachings, maintained justice, avoided oppression and promoted the welfare of their immediate followers and generations to come. Great leaders have always risen throughout the history of the ummah.


The Prophet's character was patience and perseverance, wisdom and foresight, kindness, concern for others, honesty and truthfulness, justice, courage and firmness, love and mercy, forgiveness, simplicity and humility, and good humor


Abubakr is remembered for his piety, wisdom, gentle character, honesty, principled behavior, and justice. Abubakr was gentle and kind in most cases but when the need arose he would be very firm and decisive


Omar Ibn al Khattab is remembered for his courage, justice, hard-work, seriousness, and generosity.


Uthman b Affan is remembered for his piety, gentle character, modesty and benevolence.


Ali b Abi Talib is remembered for his bravery, scholarship, and justice.


Khalid Ibn al Walid is remembered for his bravery and his military strategy.


Omar Ibn Abdul Aziz is remembered for his righteousness and piety.


Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah led a great reform movement


Salahuddin al Ayyubi liberated al Quds


Muhammad al Fatih liberated Constantinolople and renamed it Istanbul




Power is capability or potential to get something done. Influence is exercise of power to get something done. Authority is formal power that a leader has as a virtue of the position


Power and leadership are interdependent but are not interchangeable. A leader needs power to succeed and influence others but power alone does not make an effective leader.


There are 2 types of leadership power: personal and positional. Both are used in varying proportions depending on the leadership situation


Personal power is based on character, expertise, charisma, and personal relations.


Positional power is based on formal authority that includes decision-making, reward, punishment, and control of information and organizational resources.


The leader has to make a correct judgment of which source of power to use in a particular leadership situation


Influence is exercise of leadership power. Powerful leaders have more influence. They have credibility and can get more compliance from their followers.


Leaders can get follower compliance by rational persuasion, appeal, pressure, promise of rewards, negotiations (win-win, compromise)


Leader get followers to do things either by making small demands followed by big ones, or by starting with big demands followed by small ones if the big ones are not possible (8)




A leader gains more power and influence by building credibility. Credibility is based on competence (experience, knowledge, and skills), character (honesty, kindness, sympathy), self-confidence, activity and drive, boldness and assertiveness


The followers must trust the leader if he is to lead them well.


Building credibility starts with self-assessment to know your strengths and use them, to identify your weaknesses and compensate for them. You have to listen to and learn from the followers. Keeping promises and being predictable are very important for credibility.




Good leaders lead by teaching leadership, they pull and do not push.


Good leadership involves empowering followers by coaching them and then sharing leadership power with them through delegation. Followers must be given real authority, information and resources but must be held accountable for what they are doing.


Empowered followers have heightened self-efficacy and self-confidence. They will have higher performance, exhibit more cooperation, achieve higher personal growth, and in the end all ensure the survival of the organization.




Leadership is a function exercised by almost everybody each in his or her own sphere; we are at least leaders of ourselves or leaders of our families (9). Leadership can be in the community, the work-place, and in public organizations.


Since everybody has some leadership roles, each one can become a more effective leader by formal training or gaining experience on the job.


Not everyone wants to be a public leader. There are many people who are just not prepared to invest energy and shoulder the responsibilities of public leadership.




Leadership is highly individualized and is very specific for the situation and the type of followers. Each circumstance calls for different skills and style of leadership. The only constant un-varying dimension is that whatever style or skills are employed, they must conform to the leader's basic personality, values, and attitudes otherwise there will be inconsistencies that will eventually lead to leadership failure.


Several types of leaders and styles of leadership can be described: autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire. Leaders can be transactional, transformational, or charismatic. Some leaders are task oriented whilst others are people-oriented.


Choice of type or style must be flexible. The choice is determined by: the situation, leader personality, follower personality, type of organization, and type of work carried out. Some situations call for use of a combination of leadership styles.


Autocratic leaders are dictatorial. They set goals, make all the decisions and just give followers orders to carry out. They set goals and personally direct tasks. There is very little follower feed-back


Democratic leaders on the other hand involve followers in decision-making, listen to them, and give them a chance to participate. There is feed-back from both the leaders and the followers


Laisser-faire leaders neglect their role. They have little interaction with the followers. They do not care about what the followers do. The followers are free to do what they want, how and when they want. Laisser-faire leaders exercise hands-off management




Leadership may be task-oriented or people-oriented. A good leader has the right mixture of the two for the particular leadership situation he may find himself in. The correct synthesis is to concentrate first on the people, make them believe in themselves, trust them, train and nurture them and then let them produce superior results.


Task-oriented leaders are mainly interested in production and results. They often have poor interpersonal skills. Some leaders perform well with structured tasks whereas others are best with unstructured tasks.


People-oriented leaders are interested in the welfare of the followers and try to make them happy and contented. It this is take to the extreme productivity, quality, and results may be forgotten




Transformational leadership is a type of transaction leadership that focuses on higher goals instead of immediate material rewards for followers.


Transformational leaders empower, inspire, innovate, and raise passions. They have a vision and communicate it effectively. They raise followers to higher levels of motivation and morality. They give their followers a feeling of well-being and imbue new confidence and blow a new spirit in them. There is an emotional bond between the leaders and the followers. Their power is person-centered




Transactional leaders fulfill the followers' current material and psychological needs in return for performance. Their outlook is managerial.




Charismatic leaders arise in certain circumstances and are not selected. They are characterized by their commitment to values, enthusiasm and energy. They have person-centered authority which ends with their exit from the stage. They are revered and followers are devoted to them. They are invariably dynamic public speakers. They evoke strong emotions, display self-confidence and competence, serve as role models, communicate high expectations with transcendental goals, and embody in their person the hopes, aspirations, and frustrations of the followers.


Positive charismatic leaders use their authority to improve society. Wise leaders are never fooled by the charisma.


Negative charismatic leaders use that authority for their own self-aggrandizement. Charismatic leaders have a tendency to think of themselves as indispensable and to know all. They may develop egoistic and dictatorial tendencies. They can easily misuse their great authority and power. They usually do not prepare others to take their place. When they disappear from the stage they leave behind a void and instability.




Leaders, being human, are not always perfect. They have strengths and weaknesses. A correct assessment of a particular leadership situation requires looking at both strengths and weaknesses.


Expectations generate a power and a momentum of their own and are a very powerful motivator. A leader who effectively communicates expectations gets what he expects. Only self-confident leaders can communicate expectations effectively.


Practical life tests leaders in various ways; the strongest emerge successful from the tests. A leader must be able to stand up to emotional and psychological pressures, must maintain his calm and objectivity in face of personal insults and abuse directed at him or what he stands for and loves. He must be able to deal fairly with people he is not emotionally comfortable with: opposers, those who abuse, and disparage him.




Leadership calls for different skills from management. Managers are not necessarily leaders. The reverse is also true. An organization may be well-led but poorly managed and vice versa.


In practice management and leadership functions overlap and an individual exercises both leadership and management functions in varying proportions. You have to know when to lead and when to manage.


Leaders are concerned with effectiveness; they are intuitive and visionary; they like change, innovation, challenging the status quo, and development; they are original; focus on vision and its importance; they have a long-term view and inspire others to achieve and excel.


Managers are rational problem-solvers whose concern is efficiency, process, and mechanics of achieving objectives. They administer for maintenance of stability, harmony, and the status quo. They follow and do not innovate. Their view is generally short-term.




There is no leadership without followership. The quality of the followers determines the quality of the leadership. A good leader may fail with bad followers. An average leader may succeed if he has good followers (10).


In the long run it is follower quality that determines the nature of a particular leadership situation. "The way you are is the way of your leaders". Followers get the leaders they deserve. Incongruence between followers and leaders is usually temporary and hardly exceeds a generation.


In a certain situation, a successful fit between leaders and followers leads to success.


Successful leadership requires that followers obey the leader. There are however limitations and conditions for that obedience as will be discussed later.




Successful public leadership is always directly or indirectly dependent on the consent of the followers. Good selection of public leaders requires participation of the followers. Leaders can not be imposed. Imposition of leaders can work for only a short time or is associated with unsuccessful leader-follower situations.


The best leaders are those who do not show ambition for leadership (11).


The exact method of expressing the follower's view varies according to the circumstances of each group. Follower input whatever its nature can not be ignored.




There is no correct answer to the question how long should one individual stay in leadership? It is better to leave this matter open and decide according to circumstances.


Staying too long discourages the emergence of younger leaders and infusing new blood and new ideas into the organization. It may also result into inefficiency as the leader loses effectiveness with time.


Frequent changes of leaders may on the other hand result in lack of continuity and instability. There are situations in which one long-serving leader is the only one with the skills and charisma to hold the organization together. In such a case you should not insist on change for the sake of change.




Leaders experience problems. Being at the top can be lonely. They take responsibility for failures. Followers may be disloyal to the leader or the organization. Subordinates may have poor values that the leader can not stand. There may be dissent. The leader may be ahead of the followers in vision and thinking. External threats are always looming on the horizon.






            "Narrated Abu Huraira: While the Prophet was saying something in a gathering, a Bedouin came and asked him "When would the Hour (Doomsday) take place?" Allah's Apostle continued his talk, so some people said that Allah's Apostle had heard the question, but did not like what that Bedouin has asked. Some of them said that Allah's Apostle had not heard it. When the Prophet finished his speech, he said, "Where is the questioner, who enquired about the Hour (Doomsday)?" The Bedouin said, "I am here, O Allah's Apostle" Then the Prophet said, "When honesty is lost, then wait for the Hour ( Doomsday ). The Bedouin said, "How will that be lost?" The Prophet said, "When the power or authority comes in the hands of unfit persons, then wait for the Hour (doomsday)". Bukhari 1;50-51, hadith # 56



"Wait for doomsday when the deposit (amanat) is wasted. He inquired: "What's the wasting of the deposit?" His holiness said: When rulership is entrusted to the incompetent, wait for the doomsday" Hayat 3:266-267



"Abu Said al Khudri reported the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) as saying: When three are on a journey, they should appoint one of them as their commander.". Abu Daud 2:721, Chapter 933, hadith # 2602



"Salamah daughter of al Hurr and sister of Kharshah b. al Hurr al Fazari said 'I heard the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him ) say: “one of the signs of the Last Hour will be that people in mosques will refuse to act as imam and will not find an imam to lead them in prayer.". Abu Daud 1:153, Chapter 153, Hadith # 581



            And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain Commands, which he fulfilled: He said: "I will make you An Imam to the Nations. He pleaded: " And also (Imams) from my offspring!" He answered: "But My promise is not within the reach of evildoers. Qur'an 2:124



O you who believe! Enter not the Prophet's houses until leave is given you for a meal, (and then) Not (so early as ) to wait for its preparation: but when you are invited, enter; And when you have taken your meal, disperse, without seeking familiar talk. Such (behavior) annoys the Prophet: he is ashamed to dismiss you, but Allah is not ashamed ( to tell you ) the truth. Qur'an 33:53



"Sufyan al Thawri said: The Caliphs are four: Abu Bakr, Umar Uthman, Ali and Umar Ibn Abd al Aziz". Abu Daud 3:1300, Chapter 1684, hadith # 4614



Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: Allah's Apostle said to Mu'adh bin Jabal when he sent him to Yemen. "You will come to the people of scripture, and when you reach them, invite them to testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is His Apostle. And if they obey you in that, then tell them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers to be performed every day and night. And if they obey you in that, then tell them that Allah has enjoined on them Sadaqa (i.e. Zakat) to be taken from the rich amongst them and given to the poor amongst them. And if they obey you in that, then be cautious! Don't take their best properties (as Zakat) and be afraid of the curse of an oppressed person as there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.. Bukhari:



            “Abdullah b Umar reported the Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him) as saying: Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible of his flock. The amir (ruler) who is over the people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband's house and children and she is responsible for them; and a man's slave is a shepherd in charge of his master's property and he is responsible for it. So each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock". Abu Daud 2:827, Chapter 1089, hadith # 2922



            And those who pray, Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous. Qur'an 25:74



"Abd al Rahman b Samurah said: The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) said to me: Abd al-Rahman b. Samurah, do not ask for the position of commander, for if you are given it after asking you will be left to discharge it yourself, but if you are given it without asking you will be helped to discharge it.". Abu Daud 2:827, Chapter 1090, hadith # 2923

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule May 1996