Lecture for 4th year students at the Kulliyah of Medicine, International Islamic University, Kuantan on 21st October 2000



A. Importance of Leadership

B. Nature of Leadership

C. Narture of Leaders

D. Leadership power

E. Leadership Styles



A. Over-view

B. Personal attributes of leaders

C. Conceptual skills of Leaders

D. Practical skills of Leaders

E. Human skills of Leaders



A. Over-view

B. Communication

C. Getting the work done

D. Functions of the followers

E. Public and private spheres:



A. Background of leadership diseases

B. Diseases that manifest in dealing with followers

C. Diseases of followers:

D. Leadership failure:

E. Hatred by the followers









Leadership is a pre-condition for civilized existence. Absence of recognized leadership means chaos to the detriment of all. Any group of 3 or more must have a leader. Leadership is the single most important determinant of organizational success. Good leadership leads to success; bad leadership leads to frustration and failure. If the leaders are upright, the ummat will be upright, istiqamat amr al naaas idha istaqamat al aimmat (KS 52). All members, supporters, and sympathizers of the organization are stakeholders who are concerned about success and failure of leadership.  One of the harbingers of doom is to place leadership authority in the wrong hands.




Leadership is the process of influencing people and making them do certain things. It is both an art and a science. It may be formal and legalistic or informal. 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 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. A few leadership skills are innate but most are acquired by experience and education. 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. True leadership is more service than domination. The leader is the servant (sayyid al qawm khadimuhum). 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 phoney 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.



There is no leadership without followership. The quality of the followers determines the quality of the leaders. 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. Successful leadership requires that followers obey the leader. There are, however, limitations and conditions for that obedience as will be discussed later. Good leaders teach 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 do. 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.




The Qur’an used the term imaam to refer to leaders. Ibrahim prayed that leaders be appointed from his progeny (p 148 2:124). Even the suppressed can become leaders, al mustadhi’afiin aimmat (p. 148 28:5). Each group of people will be identified by their leader, kullu unaas bi imaamihim (p 148 17:71). Good leaders prefer leading righteous people, imaam al muttaqiin (P. 148 25:73). The Qur’an described good leaders as the guided ones, aimmat mahdiyiin (p. 148 21:73; p. 148 32:24). Bad leaders call people towards evil and hell, aimmat yadi’uuna ila al naar (p 148 28:41).



Leadership is a function exercised by almost everybody each in his or her own sphere; you are at least leaders of yourself or leader of your family. The prophet taught that everybody is responsible and that everybody is accountable, kullukum raai wa kullu raa’I mas’uulu ‘an ra’iyatihi (KS 45). 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 the energy necessary to shoulder the responsibilities of public leadership. 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.



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. An individual can 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; they 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.



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. 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 leaders or the organization. Subordinates may have poor values that the leaders can not stand. There may be dissent. The leaders 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. The leader can not close his door in front of people who have a need to see him (KS 45). It is important that people know enough about leaders' private life to be assured that they are not involved in any activity that is incompatible with their 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



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: opponents, those who abuse, and disparage him.




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.



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 of the big ones are not possible



A leader gains more power and influence by building credibility. Credibility is based on competence (experience, knowledge, 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.




The Prophet Muhammad and the 5 rightly-guided khulafaha after him as well as other illustrious leaders in history are models of ideal leadership. The rightly-guided khulafa had many merits, fadhail al khulafa al rashidiin (KS 46) and had a distinguished and common behavior, sunnat al khulafa al rashidiin (KS 46). 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 and empathy, concern and care for others, honesty and truthfulness, justice and fairness, 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, 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. Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah led a great reform movement. Salahuddin al Ayyubi liberated al Quds. Muhammad al Fatih liberated Constantinolople and renamed it Istanbul


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.



Leaders can be autocratic, democratic, or laissez-faire: Autocratic leaders are dictatorial. They set goals, make all the decisions and just give followers orders to carry out. They 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 ae 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,  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. This, if taken to the extreme, affects productivity, quality, and results.



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. The power of transformational leaders is person-centered. Transactional leaders fulfill the followers' current material and psychological needs in return for performance. Their outlook is managerial. Transformational leadership is a type of transaction leadership that focuses on higher goals instead of immediate material rewards for followers.



Charismatic leaders arise in certain circumstances and are not selected. They are characterized by their 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. 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.





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. Effective leaders 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, strength of personality, humility, simple life, honesty, integrity, commitment. Practical skills are needed for performance of technical activities: communication, decision making, problem solving, and execution. Human skills are needed to understand and motivate followers: understanding followers. Conceptual skills are intellectual functions involving planning, coordination 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.


The age of a leader is an important consideration. Leadership by children is condemned because they have not yet reached the level of maturity needed for successful leadership, la’anat imarat al sibyaan (KS 102).



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, experience, honesty, respect for leaders, and gratitude



Effective leaders have positive moral values and attitudes. Values: A leader must have positive and moral values such as honesty, ethics, and 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 form. An optimistic attitude to life is needed. Pessimistic leaders discourage their followers.



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. 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.



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. 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 reassured and are firm, the leader is also encouraged even more to be firm and face crises. 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 not overestimate his importance as an individual. He must have a healthy mixture of confidence (for the organization) and humility (for himself). He must focus on the organization and not his person. 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. 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.



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. 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. Simple living and avoiding luxuries are necessary for integrity. 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. Good leaders deal with their followers honestly and are up front. 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 leadership position. Such treatment would not have been possible before assumption of leadership. In such a case there is unacceptable gain from the leadership position.




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 focussed 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.



An effective leader sets goals and is an example to the followers on how to reach those goals. The best leaders lead by example. Failure in many leadership situations is a result of failure to set goals and to communicate them to the followers. The consequence of such failure is that followers may move on one direction while the leaders move in another direction. In the end the whole organisation fails.



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. A sense of balance is needed. Too much caution will destroy initiative and paralyze action. Too much risk-taking may completely destroy the organisation.



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.



The 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. Commitment does not mean lack of flexibility. When circumstances require it, the leader may have to change strategy and tactics but must remain committed to the permanent values of the organisation. Part of the leader’s commitment is to lead for no personal gain or ambition seeking leadership, talab al imarat (KS 102).



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



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.




Communication is an important skill for a leader to convey his vision and plans to the followers. Leadership failure will ensue very quickly if communication fails. Both vertical and horizontal communications are important. Vertical communication is either up-down or down-up and is between the leaders on the top and followers at the bottom. Horizontal communication is between peers. There is a need to communicate both inside and outside the organisation.



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. Timely decision making is so important that it is said that a less than perfect decision in time is better than a perfect decision that comes late. A bad decision can always be corrected by a later decision whereas there is no remedy for a missed decision.



Leaders undertake managerial functions of planning, setting goals & objectives, and evaluation. These require both vision and technical competence. The leader need not be an expert in the technical aspects. As long as he has the vision, he can get assistance from those with the professional skills.



Leaders form and lead work groups. They coordinate their work and make decisions on tasking.  A leader can not work alone. He can only produce quality work if he has a team to help him. The team must be formed, trained, and directed.



Dealing with people involves:  conflict resolution, motivation, maintaining relations with superiors and subordinates. People or human skills are the most important of skills in leadership. A leader who is good with people can get the best out of them. Failure to handle people well leads to a distance between them and the leader. The distance could even become outright hostility and conflict. A leader who lacks people skills can not keep his team together. There will be continuous conflicts among followers with eventual break-up of the organisation.



Effective leaders monitor and learn from the environment. They benefit from opportunities that exist and try to avoid dangers. A leader must have a good sense of timing so that actions and interventions have maximum impact and advantage.




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 well developed human skills. They understands 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. They 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.



Good leaders have compassion and empathy. They have high consideration for others. They have no pride and are like their followers not seeking to be different from or superior to them. They are lenient and forgiving. They treat their followers well. They protect the followers from both physical and emotional hurt



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 a symbolic way a leader represents followers and has to be careful about his image and behavior because all these reflect on the 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.




A leader must lead. The leadership function can not be 100% delegated. The leader should not turn into a follower of the followers, that would be abdicating responsibility. Depending on the situation a leader may play one of the following roles/functions: (a) Clarification of vision, goals, objectives for the organization and the followers (b) Making decisions without which there is no movement (c) Strategic and tactical Planning (d) Training (e) Solving problems so that they do not remain as a time-bomb (f) Coordinating and integration to ensure unity of command, of purpose, and of direction (g) Representation of the organization and followers outside and protecting their interests (h) Managing and resolving conflicts so that the group may hold together (i) Motivation of followers to be productive (j) Tasking by determining who will do what when and how (k) Maintaining positive and smooth working relationships with peers, superiors, and followers (l) Participation and not being aloof (m) Evaluation of self and of followers so that renewal and correction may be possible (n) Forming groups, coaching them and delegating responsibility to them (o) Communication, the most important function of leadership.




Communication competence is an essential leadership skill because leadership is human interaction. Leaders must have the capacity to use symbols to create reality. These symbols are necessary to move followers to strive toward a vision, reach goals and purposes. The leader must have an agenda to lead well. Parts of the agenda must be communicated whereas some should be kept confidential. Since leaders are by definition able to see visions further than followers, they must have the twin ability to communicate those visions effectively to motivate the followers. The vision communicated outside must be the same as that communicated internally. A leader could communicate a baseline of low expectations at the start. This will enhance the impact of later achievements. Care must be taken not to make the expectations so low that there is demotivation. Leader communication must be sincere and high on the moral scale. Communicating false images and boosting the leader's ego are not acceptable. It is better for the leader to produce quality work before trying to get media attention.



The leaders should to get into the right publications and to educate the reporters about the organization. The leader should use the mass media to get goodwill for the organization. All credit should be for the organization and not the leader. The leader should be humble but should not confuse his personal humility with that of the organization. The organization should have a high profile. In dealing with the media, a decision should be made whether a high or a low profile will be maintained. Each has advantages and disadvantages. A leader may have to be silent sometimes in order to buy time and get the chance to reconsider issues. As a leader you may also want to let the heat of the moment pass before committing yourself. You should be a good and motivating public speaker. If too busy use a speech-writer. Choose speaking opportunities actively and initiate the invitation process. Do not wait to be invited. Whenever you speak make sure there is solid content.



A leader can hold a group together as long as intra-group communication is efficient. There should ideally exist no communication gap between the top leadership and the rank-and file. Group failure starts with communication failure. Communication problems are complicated in a decentralized organization.  An efficient communication system must be set up. The leader must read widely to be able to know what is going on inside and outside the organization. He must be able to identify micro and mega trends as well as understand how they impact on his organisation. He must know what followers know and what they are thinking about.



Modern communication technology has placed new challenges on leaders. There is too much information and it is transmitted too rapidly. Information overload is a real problem. An effective leader will rise above the information clutter. He knows how to reach the people he wants despite the clutter. Clutter can be made use of when the leader deliberately wants to be vague. It is however unethical for the leader to create such clutter. He can only benefit from it when it exists. Communication technology has greatly increased the speed of events by compressing time. If you do not handle your communication well, efficiently and effectively, you will be overtaken by events. One way to manage is to be pro-active. Get your message out quickly. Control the information agenda. Have contingency plans. The leader's communication competence is put to a severe test in a crisis. A crisis presents both a danger and an opportunity as far as communication is concerned. The atmosphere of heightened tension increases receptivity of messages. Swift response and giving information builds credibility and demonstrates mastery over the situation. On the other hand hesitation and and giving incomplete information destroy credibility.




You should be able to identify and resolve organizational problems. Look at each situation from different vantage points. A management solution may contradict an equally valid leadership solution. Reconciliation between the two requires much understanding and wisdom.



Effective leaders motivate followers to excel. Motivation reduces the need for close control and supervision. Motivation in a decentralized organization requires special and advanced communication skills. Positive motivation is more effective than negative one. The leader will motivate his followers if he treats them equally. He should not show any favoritism.



Effective leaders delegate work to others. They will motivate, coach and monitor because delegation is not abdication. Leaders who want to do all by themselves are preparing to fail.



Effective leaders know how to form work-teams and coordinate their activities for maximum productivity. They will anticipate and resolve intra-group and inter-group conflicts.



The leader must manage time well. He should focus on issues. He must balance commitments taking into account the long-term and short term interests of the organization. Time management must be flexible. Always leave flex time as a blank in your calendar.




Each leader has followers. The Qur’an talked about followers of the prophet, atbaau al rasuul (p. 221 2:143, 3:20, 3:31, 3:53, p 222 6:153, 7:157-159, 9:117), followers of Isa, atbaau Isa (p. 222 3:55), and followers of Ibrahim, atbaau Ibrahim (p. 222 3:95, 4:125, 12:38, 16:123). Followers play an important function in a leadership situation. It is a mistake to consider them passive spectators. It is unfortunate that books of history record only what the leaders did and ignore the more important contributions of the followers. The people close to the leader, bitaanat al imaam, can guide or misguide him (KS 45).



Leaders must be obeyed otherwise there is no point in leadership. It is better to replace a leader than to disobey his commands. Obedience of leaders and those in authority is enjoined by the Law, wujuub taa;at al imaam (KS 44), taa’at uulu al amr (p. 737 4:59). Obedience extends to officials who work under the leader (KS 45). Each leader is obeyed in his or her own way: obedience of the prophet, taa’at al rasuul (p. 737-738 3:32 … 71:3), obedience by the wife, taa’at al zawjat (p. 738 4:3), and obedience of the parents, taa’at al waalidayn (p. 738 29:8, 31:15, 37:101-102). There are limits and conditions to the obedience. Obedience is enjoined as long as there is no disobedience of Allah, al samau wa al taa’at fi ghayr ma’asiyat (KS 45). The leader can not compel followers to do evil. The followers can not withhold obedience to a just order just because they have a different opinion.



The leader must be shown respect because his person represents the group. If the leader is not respected, the whole group loses respect and dignity. Respect for leaders on earth is a reason for getting respect in the hereafter (KS 102).



Followers must advise and correct the leader, munasahat al imaam (KS 45). It is incumbent on the leader to listen and accept advice. Advice from followers is facilitated by creating an atmosphere devoid of fear. The leader must give the followers license to question. This enhances their creativity.

Saying the word of truth in front of a unjust ruler, kalimat haqq inda sultaan jaair, is considered one of the greatest religious duties (KS102).



Good, genuine and continuous feed-back is required of both leaders and followers. The following are characteristics of good effective feed-back: direct, specific, descriptive,  timely,  and flexible. Feed-back should include both the negative and the positive. Neither the leader or the follower should use feed-back for blaming or embarassing others.



Leader must rely on and use staff work. The staff must know they are trusted and that their work is valued.



Follower loyalty is very important for success of leadership. This is loyalty to the position and not the person of the leader. The leader must reciprocate this loyalty by being committed to the followers and not abandoning them or exposing them to danger.



Followers may make false praise. A good leader sees through this and avoids it. He discourages praise and development of a personality cult.



A leader in the exercise of his functions must distinguish between the personal and official roles. Acting in the official role may involve doing things contrary to what you would do in private and vice versa. However no immoral acts can be accepted on the excuse that they are required by the official position. It is better in such a case to resign than compromise your values.


Go to Part II

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. October 2000