THE need for an Islamic approach in leadership is best described in a hadith reported by Abdullah ibn Umar: The Prophet Muhammad said “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock”. (Sahih al-Bukhari 6719, Sahih Muslim 1829). The four lessons that can be drawn from this hadith are:
LEADING by example in which a leader inspires others to do good deeds voluntarily for the benefit of the ummah and nation;
A LEADER is expected to show compassion and empathy. A caring leader is one who gives his followers moral support needed to navigate personal loss;
A LEADER is responsible, dedicated and consistent in carrying out his duties in protecting the interest and dignity of his flock; and,
A LEADER is accountable for what he does and should be able to give an agreeable reason for it.
A leader in Islam gives priority to the legitimate needs of followers over his own needs, without compromising his personal career advancement.
He upholds tawheed (oneness of Allah) as the root of his leadership belief.
Consequently, the problem of misuse of power can be managed properly through an act of piety by which one comprehends one’s role, not only as a caliph (representative of Allah on Earth) but also as a servant of Allah, better.
In fact, poor practice of leadership has led to critical problems of deviant workplace behaviour. They include favouritism, sexual harassment, stealing, sabotaging office equipment and insider trading.
There are some Islamic approaches that can be employed to address these issues judiciously.
FIRSTLY, Islam considers a leader to be considerate and forgiving by upholding the spirit of love and brotherhood between himself and his followers. He treats followers fairly by fulfilling their rights to avoid any act of discrimination;
SECONDLY, all duties performed are considered ibadah (good deeds), meaning he is held accountable for any good or bad deeds;
THIRDLY, a leader in Islam is the one who educates and develops his followers, always being at hand to render guidance when asked; and,
FOURTHLY, a leader should enjoin good and forbid wrong in all actions taken.
Given the above, the inculcation of Islamic approaches to leadership in any organisation is of utmost importance.
DR HANUDIN AMIN
Faculty of International Finance, Labuan International Campus, Universiti Malaysia Sabah