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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES01

9810-CONCEPT OF LEADERSHIP IN ISLAM

Paper Presented at the 14th International Leadership Training programme Islamabad Pakistan 11-2- February 1998 by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. Director, Tarbiyat and Training Center, International Islamic University, Malaysia.

OUTLINES

WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?

LEADERSHIP POWER

TYPES OF LEADERSHIP

EVALUATION OF LEADERS

FOLLOWERS

TERM OF LEADERSHIP

PROBLEMS OF LEADERS

MODEL LEADERS

ABUBAKR AL SIDDIQ

OMAR AL FAROOQ

 

1.0 WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?

Leadership is the single most important determinant in organisational 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.

 

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

 

Leadership is a pre-condition for civilised existence. Any group of 3 or more must have a leader. Absence of recognised leadership means chaos to the detriment of all.

 

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. A few leadership skills are innate but most are acquired by experience and education.

 

Leadership involves moving followers in a certain direction mostly by non-coercive methods. Successful leaders get voluntary co-operation from followers. Good leaders persuade and do not command; they pull and do not push. 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).

 

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.  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, co-ordinating, and integrating; influencing, mobilising, motivating, creating enthusiasm and optimism; providing services and making a difference.

 

2.0 LEADERSHIP POWER

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 organisational resources. The leader has to make a correct judgement 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 of the big ones are not possible

 

A leader gains more power and influence by building credibility. Credibility is based on competence (experience, knowledge, and skills), character (honesty, kindness, and sympathy), self-confidence, activity and drive, boldness and assertiveness. The followers must trust the leader if he is to lead them well. Good leaders deal honestly with their followers and are up front. 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. 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 co-operation, achieve higher personal growth, and in the end all ensure the survival of the organisation.

 

3.0 TYPES OF LEADERSHIP

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. Leadership can be in the community, the work-place, and in public organisations. 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 individualised 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 fro both the leaders and the followers. Laissez-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-centred.

 

Transactional leaders fulfil the followers' current material and psychological needs in return for performance. Their outlook is managerial. They do well in the short run when the situation is stable. They fail in the long run when they are faced with new unfamiliar challenges.

 

Charismatic leaders arise almost spontaneously in certain circumstances. They are characterised by their commitment to values, enthusiasm and energy. They have person-centred 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, 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.

 

4.0 EVALUATION OF LEADERS

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 as well as the environment. 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.

 

5.0 FOLLOWERS

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. 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 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.

 

6.0 TERM OF LEADERSHIP

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 organisation. 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 organisation together. In such a case you should not insist on change for the sake of change.

 

7.0 PROBLEMS OF LEADERS

Leaders experience problems. Being at the top can be lonely. They take responsibility for failures. Followers may be disloyal to the leader or the organisation. 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.

 

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

 

The two leaders discussed in this section combine between them all the good qualities needed in leadership

 

8.0 MODEL LEADERS

Good and effective leadership is a source of greatness (’abqariyyah). 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 khulafaha after him are, and other illustrious leaders in history are a model of ideal leadership. 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. 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 humour. Abubakr is remembered for his piety, wisdom, gentle character, honesty, principled behaviour, 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, learning 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.

 

9.0 ABUBAKR

Abubakr is remembered for the following: strong iman, constant company of the prophet, good character and wisdom, firmness, and strategy.

 

He had firm iman that knew no doubts. He was the first believer in Makka outside the prophet’s immediate family. He called others in Islam. He used his wealth to help poor Muslims.

 

He was a constant companion of the Prophet and learned a lot from him.He planned the logistics of the hijra and was the prophet’s companion on the journey..He was the companion of the prophet in the cave on migration from Makka to Madina. In Madina, Abubakr started as a farmer. He was always with the prophet. Abubakr and Omar were the closest advisers of the Prophet. Abubakr exercised leadership even in the lifetime of the prophet. He led the pilgrimage after hudaybiyyat. He was asked by the prophet to lead prayers when the prophet was in his last illness

 

He had wisdom and vision. He was never angry except for Allah. Abubakr had good manners and was a loved personality. He was a leader in his tribe in charge of settling blood feuds. He was a successful cloth merchant due to his good personality. Even before Islam, he had good morals; he did not drink alcohol. Did not participate in jahiliyyah worship. When the prophet called him, he did not hesitate to accept Islam. Abubakr was kind to badr prisoners of war. He understood and supported the prophet’s strategy at hudaybiyyat. On ascension to the khulafat, Abubakr did not oppress opposers to his leadership.

 

He took a firm stand at death of prophet. He put his focus of unity of state after death of prophet. His firm and wise stand at saqifa averted civil war. He took a firm stand in riddat wars preserved religion and unity. During the riddat wars, the usually soft Abubakr was tough and stood firm for the truth. He stabilized the state in his reign by such courageous stands. He was firm with pretenders to prophethood. He dispatched Usamah’s army to fulfil the prophet’s command although there were many dangers in Madina at that time.

 

He collected Qur’an                

 

He laid foundation for empire in Byzantine and Persian lands. He initiated the Syrian and Iraq campaigns that resulted into the expansion of the Islamic state.

 

Abubakr was a full-time leader devoted only to his work. He was aware of his limitations and brought about him men who could complement him. He asked for obedience from the people only if He obeyed Allah and did not assume that he had a right to rule. He governed by shura.

 

Abubakr was pre-occupied with ummatic welfare in the last 2 weeks of his life when he was sick. He consulted the companions before appointing Omar as the next khalifa. He undertook self criticism on his activities. He returned all the salary he had earned as khalifa to the public treasury.

 

Abubakr died with no wealth. he was buried in his old clothes; he said that the living needed new ones. He ordered that his funeral should not distract from state affairs

 

The main lessons we learn from Abubakr are : (a) Simple life (b) Honesty (c) Politeness (d) Firmness (e) Caution (f) Against self-admiration (g) Self criticism (h) Accepting criticism (I) Accountability (j) Gentle nature (k) Avoiding fitna

 

Abubakr’s main achievements: (a) Abubakr was able to maintain the unity of the ummah after the passing away of the prophet (b) He stood firm and defeated the apostates (c) He stood form against the refusers of zakat (d) the started the era of conquests (d) He collected the Qur’an

 

10.0 OMAR

Omar was a great leader, the mujaddid of the first century, who embodied in his character the best of the pre-Islamic noble ideals with the best in Islam. The prophet recognised and respected his strength of personality. The prophet prayed for his conversion because of what he knew of his strength. Omar is clear proof of the saying of the prophet ‘the best of you in jahiliyyat are the best of you in Islam if they learn’.

 

Omar was a man of strong opinions and convictions. He was a ferocious enemy of Islam in jahiliyyat and its most ferocious defender after his conversion.

 

Omar was known for being tough. He however had a soft spot in him.  This was demonstrated on many occasions. Before accepting Islam, he confronted his Muslim sister in Makka and beat her. When he saw blood he was very sorry and was profoundly affected.  Her bravery and steadfastness softened him.

 

Omar was a practical man of action. Omar was brave and very daring.  When he became a Muslim he declared his conversion in public in Makka. He and Hamza led the first public demonstration in Islam when they led Muslims from their hiding places to pray in from of the Kaaba. Omar unlike all other companions migrated in public from Makka and dared any who wanted to challenge him.

 

Omar was physically and mentally very strong. This enabled him to exercise a very dynamic leadership. He was able to work hard. He could personally attend to many details and follow up projects. He exercised tight control over state affairs. He was a very directive leader who at the same time exercised consultation.

 

Omar slept very little. He was always working. Omar was able to follow-up affairs of far- away provinces by use of the postal system, hajj, spies, and tours of inspection.

 

Omar gave trouble to those who came after him because he set very high unattainable standards for those after him.

 

Omar lived a very simple life and was approachable by all.

Omar Hasan Kasule October 1998