Whenever I think about leadership I try to always think of Verse in the Quran Surah Al-Imran Verse 139 ( 3:159 )
فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ ۖ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْرِ ۖ فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
So by the special mercy from Allah , [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in decision making. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].
This verse revealed after the battle of Uhud, when 70 of the companions (Muslims) were killed including the beloved uncle of the Prophet (SAW) – Hamza. This tragic incident happened as a result of some Muslims not following the plan in the battle – by leaving their sniper post. This strategic decision, by Muhammed (SAW), to his archers to not leave this ‘sniper’ post at all costs was somehow misinterpreted by the archers. They thought the battle was over and they left the post sadly. The result of this was disastrous and costed many lives.
So obviously Muhammed (SAW) was upset and had every right to be as a soldier and especially a leader. Then the above verse came down and instructed our Prophet (SAW) to be soft and lenient.
Not only to be lenient but to forgive them as well. Allah takes it even further and mentions “consult them in decision making”
Now why would the Prophet (SAW) need to consult them. They just messed up? They did not follow the order? People were killed? Another point is Muhammed (SAW) was more knowledgeable, senior, aware and wiser – He (SAW) also received revelation from Allah through Angel Jibreel (AS).
This leadership lesson reminds us that it is not the obedience of your following that is important. The most important thing is the love of your following. They must love you and they must know that you love them and if there is any doubt, you must remove it.
Let us look at one of the bestselling books on leadership called “The Leadership Challenge” by James Kouzes & Barry Posner – these gentlemen are the world’s preeminent researchers on leadership. They have studied the science of leadership for over 3 decades but what is really interesting is that they reveal the “Leadership Secret” in the 25th edition of their book in the conclusion.
Guess what the best kept leadership secret is? Four letters – It’s “LOVE!” – love is what fuels the vision of every leader. Love for the vision, love the work that you do, love for the people who do the work with you and for you. Love for the people you blessed to serve. Just love for the process and love of life.
Our Prophet (SAW) taught us well via this amazing verse.
That is leadership.