37.2 ATTRIBUTES AND FUNCTIONS OF LEADERS, sifaat wa masuliyaat al qaid

By Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.


Most leadership personal attributes and skills (conceptual, practical, and human) can be learned. Personal attributes are character and personality. Conceptual skills are intellectual functions (analytic, rational, and intuitive) needed for planning, coordination and integration of activities. Practical skills are needed for technical performance. Human skills are needed to understand and motivate followers. Allah gives authority to whomever He wants among many qualified for leadership. Since not everybody can become a leader, everybody must be prepared to be a good follower. The best leaders have no ambition to lead, they lead when called upon but will equally be happy as followers. Effective leaders monitor and learn from the environment, benefit from opportunities, and avoid dangers. They time actions and interventions for maximum impact and advantage. They have positive attitudes (derived from right ideas) and moral values (derived from tauhid, khilafat, and ‘adl). Optimism and good behavior reflect a positive attitude. Pessimism, racism, and prejudice reflect negative attitudes. Leaders differ from non-leaders in drive, motivation, honesty, integrity, self-confidence, emotional stability, and intelligence. Drive includes desire for achievement, high ambition, high energy levels, tenacity and initiative. Successful leaders are motivation to lead, to take charge, to make a change, to improve, to influence, and to exercise power for achieving goals. A leader must have a strong personality, mental and physical stamina, and aptitude to take responsibility and to be accountable. Strength of personality is not violence, roughness or stubbornness. It is strength of character, sticking to moral values and attitudes, avoiding the immoral even if expedient and attractive. A leader must be brave so that the followers are firm and reassured in a crisis or danger. He must be objective and not confuse personal and organizational interests. He focuses on the organization, credits his work to the organization, does not overestimate his importance as an individual, and discourages development of a personality cult. He must have a healthy mixture of confidence (for the organization) and humility (for himself). He must have a dignified physical appearance without extravagance. He must accept and learn from previous mistakes, live a simple life away from extravagance, and not distinguish himself from the followers.  He must be hinest even in small matters, have financial integrity and transparency, and avoid any appearance of impropriety.



The conceptual skills are vision, setting goals, prudence, knowledge, and commitment. Leaders see far, have a broad view, are ummatic and not parochial. They see local issues from a holistic ummatic context but they use local solutions for local problems. They accept diversity, get consensus on strategic issues, set goals, avoid speculation, and balance risk with caution. They acquire basic knowledge but rely on others for specialized knowledge. They are committed to the organization (vision and values) and the followers. They fulfil promises and are committed to carrying out decisions. They are flexible in changing strategy and tactics when necessary but they 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.



The main practical skills of leaders are communication, decision making, planning and execution, team leadership, motivation, conflict resolution, and maintaining relations. Communication conveys vision and plans to the followers. Leadership fails if communication fails. Failure to make correct decisions on time or solving problems timely leads to leadership failure. Managerial functions are planning, setting goals & objectives, and evaluation. Leaders form and lead work groups. They coordinate their work and allocate tasks.



Good leaders show concern, respect, and consideration for followers. They understand those below them as unique individuals to de dealt with in an individualized way. They have a firm belief in people. They 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. They represent followers and their interests in front of others.

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