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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES01

9810-QUALITIES OF LEADERSHIP AND HOW TO DEVELOP THEM

Paper Presented at the 15th International Leadership Training programme Islamabad Pakistan 01-31st October 1998 by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, International Islamic University, Malaysia.

 

OUTLINES

LEADERSHIP ATTRIBUTES: INNATE VS ACQUIRED

TYPES OF LEADERSHIP ATTRIBUTES/SKILLS

LEADERSHIP VALUES AND ATTITUDES

VISION

DRIVE AND ENERGY

SETTING GOALS

CAUTION AND PRUDENCE

KNOWLEDGE

BRAVERY

STRONG PERSONALITY

HUMILITY

SIMPLE LIFE

LEADER LIKE FOLLOWERS

HONESTY

FINANCIAL INTEGRITY

COMMITMENT

DIGNIFIED APEARANCE

SELF-MOTIVATION

UMMATIC VIEW

LEARN FROM MISTAKES

UNDERSTANDING FOLLOWERS

COMMUNICATION

REPRESENTING FOLLOWERS

DECISION-MAKING

PLANNING AND EXECUTION

LEADING TEAMS

PEOPLE SKILLS

UNITY IN DIVERSITY

RESPECTING FOLLOWERS

LOVE BY FOLLOWERS

ATTRIBUTES OF FOLLOWERS


1.0 OVERVIEW

This paper discusses positive and negative attributes of leaders and followers. Leaders and followers are better defined by what they do than what they are or what they say. Actions can not deceive over time; reputation and nice words often do. Every leader has to expose himself through his actions since there is no leadership without activity.

 

2.0 LEADERSHIP ATTRIBUTES: INNATE VS ACQUIRED

Very few attributes necessary for successful leadership are in-born. Most are acquired early in life in the home and community environment or are learned in adult life. Those who are associated with good leaders for a long-time (friends, offspring, friends, and followers) are likely to be good leaders by learning and imitation. Children of good leaders, if well brought up, can be good leaders not because of genetic endowment but because of early environmental influence.

 

4.0 TYPES OF LEADERSHIP ATTRIBUTES/SKILLS

Effective have personal attributes, conceptual, practical and human skills that enable them to succeed. Attributes are what leaders are. Skills are what leaders do. Personal attributes are basic character and personality: drive, values, attitude, bravery, strong personality, humility, simple life, honesty, integrity, commitment. Practical skills are needed for performance of technical activities: communication, decision making, problem solving, execution. Human skills are needed to understand and motivate followers: understanding followers. Conceptual skills are intellectual functions involving planning, co-ordination and integration of activities. They include analytic, rational, and intuitive abilities. Examples are: setting goals, knowledge, ummatic view, learning from mistakes.

 

In any given situation there may be several highly qualified people available for leadership. Allah gives authority to whomever He wants. Not everybody can become a leader. Everybody must be prepared to be a good follower. The best leaders are those who have no ambition to lead. They lead when called upon but will equally be happy as followers.

 

4.0 LEADERSHIP VALUES AND ATTITUDES

Effective leaders have positive moral values and attitudes. A leader must have positive and moral values such as honesty, ethics, social responsibility. These values are taught by religion, the family, peers, and life experience. Values can be inculcated by habit. A leader with no values is very dangerous. Islamic leadership values are derived from three main concepts: tauhid, khilafat, and adl. These values are universal and do not change by time and place.

 

Attitudes are enduring or permanent feelings, opinions, or beliefs about self and others. They may be positive or negative. Attitudes start with ideas, wrong ideas are associated with negative attitudes whereas good ideas are associated with good and positive attitudes. Ideas determine behavior and feelings. A good leader has positive attitudes toward others. He will keep away from negative attitudes such as racism or prejudice in any of its forms. An optimistic attitude to life is needed. Pessimistic leaders discourage their followers.

 

5.0 VISION

A leader must have a vision. The vision is developed from wide consultation and is refined by practical application. The vision must be maintained in easy and difficult situations. The followers must be convinced about the vision. The vision must be focused and in conformity with organizational culture. A good vision must be backed up by positive values. A distinguishing characteristic of great leaders is ability to see farther than the followers and to see the big picture. The bigger the vision, the greater the leader.

 

6.0 DRIVE AND ENERGY

The most important trait of successful leaders is drive which includes a strong desire for achievement, high ambition, high energy levels, tenacity and initiative. Drive combined with high motivation, honesty, integrity, self-confidence, emotional stability, and intelligence distinguish leaders from non-leaders. Both genetics and environmental influence contribute to drive; the relative contribution of each is not known.

 

7.0 SETTING GOALS

An effective leader sets goals and is an example to the followers on how to reach those goals. The best leaders lead by example.

 

8.0 CAUTION AND PRUDENCE

A good leader will avoid too much speculation and will know the difference between taking a risk by an individual and by an organization. An individual may take more risks because if things go wrong the damage is limited. A leader in charge of a group will be more prudent because an error will have more consequences.

 

9.0 KNOWLEDGE

Knowledge both basic and specialized is necessary for leadership. No one should become a leader without the basic knowledge needed to carry out responsibilities in the particular leadership situation. A religious leader must know at least the basics of the religion. A business leader must know the fundamentals of business. A leader however need not be a specialist. He can always employ people with specialized knowledge for particular tasks. The leader must be honest with himself and know the limits of his knowledge. Some deficiencies can be corrected by more education. Others can only be compensated for by relying on people who have the necessary knowledge.

 

10.0 BRAVERY

A leader must be brave. In times of danger followers will be firm if their leader is firm. There is a mutual psychological dependency. A brave leader will have reassured followers around him. When the followers are reassures and are firm, the leader is also encouraged even more to be firm and face crises.

 

11.0 STRONG PERSONALITY

A leader must have a strong personality. Strength of personality does not mean violence, roughness or stubbornness. It is strength of character, sticking to moral values and attitudes at all times, and avoiding whatever is immoral even if it is expedient and is attractive.

 

12.0 HUMILITY

The leader must be objective and not confuse personal and organizational interests. The credit for whatever he does should go to the organization. He must overestimate his importance as an individual. He must have a healthy mixture of confidence (for organization) and humility (for himself). He must focus on the organization and not his person.

 

13.0 SIMPLE LIFE

A good leader leads a simple life. Extravagance and materialism weaken and destroy the spirit eventually leading to corruption and evil. Too much materialism destroys the spirit of the leader and eventually that of the followers.

 

14.0 LEADER LIKE FOLLOWERS

A leader must not distinguish himself from the followers. He must actively discourage the development of a personality cult around himself. He should never think he is special. It was only Allah's wish that he was selected among many capable people to be a leader.

 

15.0 HONESTY

The leader must be a model of honesty. Honesty in public and private affairs in a crucial test for a leader. Honesty is required in seemingly small or trivial things. Dishonesty is a habit, once acquired is difficult to shake off. Small dishonesties will one day become big ones.

 

16.0 FINANCIAL INTEGRITY

A successful leader has financial integrity in dealing with public property. It is not enough to be honest; you must be seen to be so and you must avoid any suspicious behavior. The only way to ensure this is complete transparency in financial matters. Followers must know what is going on so that they are assured that had there been any discrepancies they could have seen them. A leader and his immediate or extended family should never gain materially from his position. Taking public property is clearly theft. There are other situations that are not so clear to which moral and not legal tests have to be applied. A leader or his family can, like all citizens, sell or buy legally. However those dealing with them may give him preferential treatment because of the position. Such treatment would not have been possible before assumption of leadership. In such a case there is unacceptable gain from the leadership position.

 

17.0 COMMITMENT

A leader must be committed to the organization he is leading and the followers. He must be committed to certain values and to a vision. He must respect his promises and decisions and must be committed to carrying them out.

 

18.0 DIGNIFIED APEARANCE

A leader must have a dignified physical appearance but must not be extravagant. The leader is a spokesman and representative of the followers. His appearance is a reflection on all.

 

19.0 SELF-MOTIVATION

Successful leaders have a high level of motivation to lead. They want to make a change, to improve, to influence, to exercise power for achieving definite goals. They take charge. Effective leaders have the mental and physical stamina as well as aptitude to take responsibility and to be accountable.

 

20.0 UMMATIC VIEW

An ummatic view is needed so that the leader is not parochial or provincial. Local issues should be been in a holistic context of the whole ummah if they are to be understood well. However when it comes to solutions the leader should be more local in approach in order to succeed. The only precaution needed here is not to create problems on the macro level while solving problems on the micro level

 

21.0 LEARN FROM MISTAKES

Successful leaders have the ability to learn from previous mistakes. They readily accept mistakes once they are apparent. Poor leaders do not even acknowledge their mistakes and will hate anyone who points them out.

 

22.0 UNDERSTANDING FOLLOWERS

Good leaders have well developed human skills. They understand those below him as unique individuals and not in a generic sense. They will deal with each person in an individualized and unique way. The great secret of leadership is to be able to tap into the potential of each individual and make him a peak performer, each in his individual and unique way. You must realize that individuals are unique and have God-given talents and potentials to make them productive and useful contributors to the organization. They respect followers each in his uniqueness. Good and effective leaders have a firm belief in people.

 

23.0 COMMUNICATION

Communication is an important skill for a leader to convey his vision and plans to the followers.

 

24.0 REPRESENTING FOLLOWERS

Representing followers and their interests in front of others takes a lot of the leader’s time. It is however a mistake for the leader to consider himself a mouthpiece for the followers just transmitting their messages without checking and making sure that the message is appropriate. The leader must lead and help the followers articulate their interests and then represent them. In symbolic way a leader represents followers and has to be careful about his image and behavior because all these reflect on the followers

 

25.0 DECISION-MAKING

Decision making and problem solving are primary managerial functions that every leader must undertake. Failure to make correct decisions on time or solving problems timely will lead to leadership failure

 

26.0 PLANNING AND EXECUTION

Leaders undertake managerial functions of planning, setting goals & objectives, clarification of the vision, and evaluation,

 

27.0 LEADING TEAMS

Leaders form and lead work groups. They coordinate their work and make decisions on tasking.

 

28.0 PEOPLE SKILLS

Dealing with people involves:  conflict resolution, motivation, maintaining relations with superiors and subordinates.

 

29.0 UNITY IN DIVERSITY

A leader must accept diversity. Try to get consensus only on a few really strategic issues and then allow people to exercise their initiatives. You however must continuously monitor the trends in opinions to be able to detect serious deviations from the overall strategy. The vision and unity of purpose must be maintained at all costs despite the diversity.

 

30.0 RESPECTING FOLLOWERS

Good leaders show concern, respect, and consideration for followers. Followers reciprocate by showing loyalty. Good and mutually-beneficial leader-follower relationships can not be sustained without loyalty. Good leaders have a sense of humor. They have compassion and empathy. They have high consideration for others. They have no pride and are like their followers not seeking to be different or superior to them. They are lenient and forgiving. They treat their followers well. They protect the followers from both physical and emotional hurt

 

31.0 LOVE BY FOLLOWERS

A leader will succeed if loved by the followers. Love by followers is like an emotional savings account. The better the leader treats followers, the more the deposit into the account. Sometimes the leader may make mistakes or things may not work out well. That is when the savings account comes into use. Withdrawals can be made from it to cover the defect. If the account is big, a big withdrawal will not lead to immediate bankruptcy. A small account will be overdrawn quickly exposing both the leader and followers to an ugly confrontation. In most cases love by followers indicates good leadership. In exceptional cases bad leaders who do not set standards may be loved by lazy followers who just want to be left alone.

 

32.0 ATTRIBUTES OF FOLLOWERS

Attributes of followers closely parallel those of their leaders if the leadership situation lasts a fairly long time. Followers may be lazy or hardworking. Some followers accept and take responsibility; others shun it. Some followers are sheep and are 'yes people' they will follow whatever is moving. Some are survivors who will do whatever is necessary to stay out of trouble. Other followers are alienated and do not care about what is going on around them. Some followers are obedient others are not. Many will not obey until they are promised a reward or are threatened with punishment. Followers differ in intelligence, education, experence, honesty, respect for leaders, and gratitude

Omar Hasan Kasule Oct 1998