Leadership Qualities Part 1

With elections approaching, South Africans are bombarded with promises of different types of leaders and leadership. It is an opportunity for us to evaluate the qualities of leadership we need in order to realize maximum potential from our subordinates, whether as parents, teachers, bosses or society leaders.

Resources: Allah made Zul Qarnayn a leader and gave him the means to govern. (Qur’aan 18:84) When in authority, expect the best from subordinates, on two conditions: do not expect more than they are capable of, and give them tools to get the job done.

Allah does not demand what we do not have the ability to do: On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than he can bear. (Surah Baqarah)

Power: Zul Qarnayn was tested when he came upon a people. He was told: ‘… (you have authority) either to punish them or treat them with kindness.’ He (Zul Qarnayn) said: ‘Whoever does wrong him shall we punish… But whoever believes and works righteousness he shall have a goodly reward...’ (Qur’aan 18:85-8)

Zul Qarnayn displayed leadership qualities of fairness and justice. Wrong-doers must be punished, but good people must be rewarded and honored. A leader does not abuse his power.

Exploitation: At another stage Zul Qarnayn was asked by a people to erect a barrier between them and Yajooj and Majooj. They offered to pay for it, but Zul Qarnayn treats them with a sense of service, not greed. He does not want to exploit their weakness. He realizes the power that Allah has blessed him with is a means to serve Allah by taking care of people’s needs.

Teamwork: Zul Qarnayn asked the people to help with their labour. Leadership is about teamwork because leaders can’t accomplish anything without their followers (and Allah’s help). This illustrates 3 things that good leaders do to accomplish tasks:
1. Asking people to help dignifies them by making them a partner in solving the problem,
2. it gives them a stake in the success of the solution, and
3. it gives them a sense of responsibility for maintaining the solution.

Muslims need to display the leadership qualities of Islam in our small spheres of authority. This will in turn teach good governance to our political leaders, ridding them of incompetence and corruption.