Paper presented Leadership Training Programme, Islamic College of South Africa 19-22 June 2000 by Prof Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.


Human imperfections



Deviant personality

Pride and Vanity

Uncompensated weaknesses


Excessive veneration




Seeking false reputation

Abandoning followers

Unequal treatment of followers

Deviant values


Human imperfections: With the exception of prophets, no leaders or followers can claim being perfect. Any leader will have diseases (hopefully few). Followers also have diseases. The diseases of leaders and followers could be synergistic. The aim of good leadership is to minimize or compensate for them. This requires maturity and balance. The leader must be able to look at himself in a mirror or listen to trusted advisors to know and acknowledge weaknesses. Only the greatest can do this.


Socialization: Bad leadership is learned from poor role models in the home, the general society, and the work-place. Societies or organizations that depended on authoritarianism, no delegation, no participation produced the worst leaders in history.


Diseases: Good leaders have attributes and skills that have been discussed. Bad leaders are not necessarily those with opposite attributes and skills. Bad leaders have definite diseases that could exist alongside some of the good qualities. In the extreme some bad leaders have only diseases and none of the good qualities.


Deviant personality: Some bad leaders are actually psychologically sick: sadists, megalomaniacs, jealous, immature, or psychopathic personalities. Organizations and societies that allow such individuals to rise to the top pay a heavy price.


Pride and Vanity: Pride and vanity have destroyed many leaders. They are from the SHAITAN and eventually lead to mutual hatred between leaders and followers. They may also become a disease of both the leader and his followers in which case there is mutual hatred between groups, organizations, and even nations.


Uncompensated weaknesses: A leader is a human being and can not be perfect. There will be weaknesses. The way to deal with them is to compensate for them by relying on strong people who have the skills that the leader may lack. The careful leader will also avoid activities that he lacks the ability to do well.


Ignorance: Some bad leaders are sincere and are committing mistakes without being aware of them. Some commit mistakes because of basic inner limitations. Ignorance of a leader that is not acknowledged or compensated for spells disaster for the organization. Wrong decisions will be made and will be defended by the leader.


Excessive veneration: Bad leaders with weak egos seek excessive veneration from their followers. These are inadequate persons who are not sure of themselves. An organization that allows such persons to occupy leadership positions will regret the consequences.


Oppression: Bad leaders who lack legitimacy, personal authority, and self-confidence tend to be oppressive. They try to use force to impose their will. Those who oppose this are dealt with badly. Oppression eventually fails.


Petty-mindedness: Petty-mindedness is a sign of an immature personality and lack of vision. Small things become big while big things are not even recognized. The self becomes more important than the public interest.


Manipulation: Bad leaders are manipulative. They control and do not build or develop their followers. Manipulation is not leadership. It is a form of coercion and deception. A manipulative leader does not deal honestly with followers. He uses physical and psychological pressures to get compliance. Often he uses outright deception.


Seeking false reputation: Bad leaders concentrate on building false reputations, appearances, and images. They neglect the hard work that produces real results. Such leaders who deceive themselves and their followers will not hide their weaknesses for long. False leaders are exposed sooner or later. If not exposed in their lifetime or period of tenure, history will expose them in unflattering terms. The Qur'an recounts stories of such leaders in bygone eras as a lesson to all of us.


Abandoning followers: Bad leaders will abandon their followers in times of crisis or danger. They will not stand to share the pain with them or lead them to a solution.


Unequal treatment of followers: Bad leaders treat followers unequally. There is favoritism. Those who praise the leader and pander to his ego are preferred over the more principled ones. Syncopaths are brought near while the productive and hard-working are kept away. Favoritism may also manifest as nepotism, appointments or promotions based on family relationships and not merit. Injustice of a bad leader may be in attitude, actions, judgements, decisions, and communication. All what deviates from the truth and fair and equitable treatment is injustice.


Deviant values: It is an irony of human experience that the best and the worst leaders can share some of the same practical and conceptual skills. They differ in the underlying values, personality, goals, and how the skills are used. Good moral leaders serve humanity while the bad ones cause suffering and harm.



Ignorant leaders misguide: "Narrated Abdullah b Amr bin Al As : I heard Allah's Apostle saying, Allah does not take away knowledge, by taking it away from ( the hearts of ) the people, but takes it away by the death of the religious learned men till when none of the ( religious learned men ) remains, people will take as their leaders ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead the people astray". Bukhari 1:80, hadith # 100


Oppression and petty-mindedness: "Jabir b Abdullah reported that Allah's Messenger ( may peace be upon him ) said: Be on your guard against committing oppression, for oppression is a darkness on the Day of Resurrection, and be on your guard against petty mindedness for petty mindedness destroyed tho who were before you. as it incited the to shed blood and make lawful what was unlawful for them". Muslim 4: 1366, Chapter 1065, Hadith # 6248


Oppressor is finally punished: "Narrated Abu Musa : Allah's Apostle said, Allah gives respite to the oppressor, but when He takes him over, He never releases him. Bukhari 6:171, hadith # 208


Do not despair: "Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger ( may peace be upon him ) as saying: When a person says that people are ruined he is he is himself ruined" Muslim 3: 1382, Chapter 1091, Hadith # 6352


Leader who deceives followers: "Narrated Maqil : Allah's Apostle said, If any ruler having the authority to rule Muslim subjects dies while he is deceiving them, Allah will forbid Paradise for him" Bukhari 9:197, hadith # 265


Searching for follower faults: "Jubair b. Nufair, Kathir b. Murrah, Amr b. al-Aswad, Miqdam b. Madikarib, and Abu Umamah reported the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) as saying: When a ruler seeks to make imputations against the people, he corrupts them" Abu Daud 3:1362, Chapter 1752, Hadith # 4870




Write 1-3 sentences on what you understand by the following diseases of leaders: Give examples from  your experience


Psychological/personality illnesses:



Give examples from your experience of the following manifestations of leadership failure:


Refusal to admit/accept mistakes

Believing they are indispensable:

Dictatorial and egoistic

Refusal to traindevelop replacements

Fear for position

Disloyalty: to superiors, peers, followers, organization

Fear of competition from outside  and inside

Lack of creativity: hate new ideas,

Prefer unprodctive tested ways

Too bureaucratic

Lack of common sense: aloof; far from reality,theoretical

Lack of a 'people sense:

Use positional and not personal power

Disrespect and demotivate followers: fault-finding,name calling, attacks, blame,

Manage different people in the same way

Manipulative behavior


Lack sense of 'bottom-line': not know you are judged by results

Failure to pay attention to detail

Failure to see endresults

Failure to set standards & making sure standards are respected

Failure to lead: being part of the crowd and not leading

Not taking hard decisions involving people

Interference in followers' privacy

Condone/ignore incompetence

Desire to be loved by followers

Lack of will-power  wish problems will disappear on their own

Fear confrontation

Failure to recognize and reward good work

Hatred of followers for leader:



Fill the following table comparing manipulators and people builders. Indicate your choices as high/low:


                                                            MANIPULATORS                  BUILDERS


Sincere concern for people



Power hungry






Uses and dumps people

Uses power for self gain


Praises success





Embraces change

Long-term perspective





Pride and vanity





Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. June 2000