Leadership: What Is It and How to Deal with It? [Part Three]
What Is It and How to Deal with It?
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur'an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
Zillay Ilaahi Model
The leadership appears to do things "right."
Up to a point.
It seems to produce results.
Up to a point.
It gives the appearance of being innovative, fearless, practical and all that.
Up to a point.
Yet, it is less than open in its ways.
It is authoritarian, arbitrary, capricious, conniving, calculating, secretive, underhanded, despotic, tyrannical and dictatorial.
In a word, it is un-Islamic.
It hides, twists, manipulates, covers up, distorts, doles out, delays, rations and manages information.
It fiddles with facts.
It doctors data.
It fudges reality.
It falsifies records and documents.
Frames, colors, packages and presents facts, people, places, events, objects, issues to suit its purposes, policies, preferences, passions and predilections.
Gives currency to false interpretations and conclusions.
Promotes self-serving and misleading spins on events and issues.
Uses euphemisms to mask, mitigate or mutilate reality.
Scatters red herrings.
Fosters false belief and perception.
Nurtures naiveté and demands blind trust.
Knowingly mixes truth with falsehood.
Facts with opinion.
Reality with fiction.
At times, quite cynically.
Such leadership generally un-, dis- and mis-informs the group, the organization, the community, the nation or the people it purports to represent, serve and lead.
It, thus, lies and cheats.
Hides and distorts.
Denies and disavows.
Bullies and bickers.
It dithers, prevaricates, obfuscates, muddies the waters and throws a cloak of confusion over truth.
Such leadership is generally patronizing, cynical, conniving, calculating, condescending and a prisoner of expediency of one kind or another.
It routinely misleads the rank and file.
And keeps them in the dark.
It resorts to subterfuge, maneuvering, manipulation and sleights of hand as means of dealing with its followers.
Rather than trust, openness, information, education and persuasion.
It hides behind the fig leaves of "Permissible Lies" and "Plausible Deniabilities."
It operates in devious, often ruthless and Machiavellian ways.
It stifles talent and initiative.
It kills or discredits dissent.
It squanders resources.
It generally fails to consult.
Or give account.
Or delegate authority.
Or encourage and facilitate participation.
Or share power.
It reacts negatively, defensively, haughtily, arrogantly, imperiously and scornfully to questioning, criticism and suggestions from those it purports to lead.
It uses evasive, delaying and devious tactics.
It resorts to cover ups and rationalizations.
It operates through secrecy, subterfuge and manipulation.
Above all, it is not – and does not consider itself to be – accountable to the group, the organization, the community, the nation or the people it purports to represent, serve and lead.
It does not hold itself accountable for its actions and policies.
It does not hold itself accountable for the fruits and consequences of those actions and policies.
It does not hold itself accountable for the philosophies, processes and procedures that it followed and which produced those actions and policies.
Nor does it hold itself accountable for the resources and treasures which it squandered in the pursuit of its misguided and self-serving actions and policies.
Resources that it often plundered at the pretext of pursuing its actions and policies for the betterment of those whom it purports to lead.
Resources that it raised from and in the name of the group, the organization, the community, the nation or the people it purports to represent, serve and lead.
Such leadership, though in fact part of the corrupt model, may be referred to as the authoritarian or imperial model of leadership.
It is the Shahinshahi Model of leadership, to use, once again, an Urdu expression.
Or call it the Zillay Ilaahi model – the model of leadership that holds power by what used to be called divine right
That is to say,
This type of leadership tries to play god.
Or behave like royalty.
It is, in effect, imperial, imperious leadership.
In the ultimate analysis, it is the leadership of the stick and the whip.
Of the boot and the spur.
Of the sword and the gun.
And of their many modern variants and sundry sophisticated substitutes.
It is the leadership of the jungle and the wild – and of the beast.
It is a fossil from primitive and pre-civilized times.
From times when the darkness of tyranny filled the earth and when might constituted right.
Almost the only right.
When the lion invariably and unquestionably got the lion’s share.
For no other reason or right than being a lion.
The most ferocious and feared animal around.
When kings ruled by "divine right."
And potentates prevailed simply because they inherited the mantle or could muster the most muscle.
When merit came with birth, and achievement followed ascription.
This type of leadership predates the struggles by masses of humanity throughout the globe for independence, freedom, dignity, justice and equality.
It thumbs its nose at the suffering and sacrifices of hundreds of millions of people in pursuit of the most basic of human rights.
Throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America.
And Europe and the United States.
In almost all parts of the world.
And in almost all cultures, creeds and philosophies.
This leadership predates the United Nations’ Human Rights Charter.
And the Geneva Conventions.
It predates the French Revolution and its powerful notions of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
It predates the Glorious Revolution and writing of The Rights of Man.
It predates the American Revolution and revolutionary Patrick Henry’s timeless cry: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of slavery and chains? Forbid it Almighty God! As for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
It predates the American thinkers and champions of freedom, justice and equality for their people: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
And the French thinkers and champions of freedom, justice and equality for their people: Voltaire and Rousseau.
And the British thinkers and champions of freedom, justice and equality for their people: John Locke, John Stuart Mill and John Milton.
It predates the Magna Carta and its central principle of tempering the absoluteness of monarchical power by making the monarch more sensitive and responsive to the needs and rights of his nobles, even though they were often his fellow-tyrants over the lives and destinies of the common masses of humanity.
It even predates the time when the Seventh-century Muslim ruler, Omar, demanded of one of his governors:
“By what right did you enslave those to whom their mothers gave birth as free people?”
And the time when Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, declared in the Seventh Century, amid the burning sands and barren rocks of Arabia:
“Beginning today, no Arab shall have superiority over a
non-Arab. Nor shall a non-Arab have superiority over
an Arab. All humans are children of Adam, and the origin
of Adam was dust.”
And the time when the Qur'an, in the Seventh Century, pointedly, powerfully, universally and repeatedly proclaimed the pioneering and novel notion of "The People.”
People, without specifications or exclusions of any kind or category.
People, inclusive of both genders – and of every stripe of humanity.
And made that powerful new concept – Annaas, The People – the central focus and theme of its message to humanity.
And named its very last chapter the chapter of "The People.”
Quite unlike any other book or document of its kind – before or since.
As early as the seventh century of the Christian era.
And the time when the Qur'an declared the primacy and ascendancy in human affairs of The Pen.
And of Reading.
And of Knowledge.
And of Understanding.
As opposed to the sword.
As opposed to brute force.
As opposed to blind power.
As opposed to unbridled personal arrogance.
As opposed to domination, subjugation and exploitation of humans by humans.
The time when the Qur'an declared freedom of knowledge, integrity of information, mutuality of consultation and full and willing participation to be the sine qua non – the key component – of all power relations on earth.
From the simplest to the most complex.
From home to government houses.
And of civilized life itself.
A life rooted in belief in God and human equality and channeled toward purposeful and responsible behavior.
Authoritarian, arrogant, autocratic leadership, in its roots and origins, even predates the ancient times when Chinese philosophers and teachers celebrated the equality of what they called mankind.
And of the times when, according to the Bible and the Qur'an, a fearless Moses thundered before the mighty Pharaoh:
“Let my people go!”
The essence, spirit and modus operandi of this type of leadership, thus, are as old as the Pyramids and the Pharaohs.
If not older.
And yet they are as new and diabolical as Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.
Marcos of Philippines and Duvalier of Haiti.
Batista of Cuba and Somoza of Nicaragua.
The Shah of Iran and Mobutu of Zaire.
Amin of Uganda and Bokassa of The Central African Republic.
Assad of Syria and Saddam of Iraq.
Qaddafy of Libya and Mubarak of Egypt.
Pinochet of Chile, Salazar of Portugal and Franco of Spain.
And all the other dictators and tyrants, large or small, who fit this profile and practice this philosophy, style and model of leadership.
Of despotic, tyrannical control over the lives and destinies of people.
Throughout the globe.
In far off places.
Or in your own neighborhood.
With their brute faces naked and plain for all to see.
Or masking their lust for personal power and greed for selfish aggrandizement behind glib clichés and popular platitudes.
In general, this type of leadership is self-imposed, self-serving and self-perpetuating.
It is not put there by its followers with their full knowledge, understanding and volition.
In ordinary language, it is not representative leadership put in office by the people in free, fair and truly meaningful expressions and exercise of choice.
In a fundamental sense, this leadership is not of, by and for the people.
As a result, it is alien and hostile to the very notion of the rights and consent of the governed.
A genuine, well-informed and enlightened consent.
As a result, such leadership lacks true mandate and legitimacy.
Such leadership casts a Satanic shadow over the souls and lives of men and women it purports to lead.
Like all other types, styles, approaches, philosophies or models of leadership sketched above, this type of leadership is also detrimental to the group, the organization, the community, the nation or the people it purports to represent and lead.
All these types, styles, philosophies, approaches and models of leadership are directly antithetical to the very spirit, meaning and purpose of civilized living.
To the very essence of being human.
And being civilized.
They directly negate that stirring Seventh Century-, Qur'anic notion of "The People.”
A notion so clearly and so powerfully incorporated in the American Constitution in the form of the declaration, "We the people."
Over a thousand years after the Qur’an first proclaimed it and made it a central part of its teachings.
Mentioning this glorious term in its divine pages no less than 200 times!
A notion expressed so simply and elegantly by the American President, Abraham Lincoln, when he characterized his government and his leadership as being of the people, by the people, for the people.
As a result, all of the five leadership styles and philosophies outlined thus far are primitive and pre-civilized in different ways and to different degrees.
And to that extent they are all really pre-human.
Representing the pits of depravity, disaster and loss to which humans can sink.
Legacy of a barbaric past and brute culture.
A man-made culture of the sword – as opposed to a divine culture of the pen.
A Satanic culture of coercion and deception – as opposed to a divine culture of education, enlightenment and persuasion.
And they all carry in them the seeds for the decline, decay, downfall and destruction of the group, organization, community, nation or people they purport to serve, represent or lead.
A civilized society is, above all else, a free society.
It is a society founded on the notions of liberty and equality.
Liberty and equality for all – regardless or race or gender, nationality or class.
And their twin sets of concomitants and correlates: knowledge and understanding; education and enlightenment; logic and persuasion.
And the ultimate fountainhead of all: truth.
What the Qur’an calls Al-Haqq.
Data; facts; reality.
Un-doctored; un-fudged; un-alloyed with fiction and falsehood.
Honesty; integrity; candor; openness; transparency.
Untarnished by personal, political, religious and commercial spin or manipulation.
And democracy in the sense of the full, willing and informed participation, involvement, consent and inclusiveness of the governed, The People, on the one hand, as well as the accountability and peaceable replaceability of the rulers and the leaders, on the other hand.
And on the notions of justice and fairness.
And trust and responsibility.
It is a society based on the twin principles of the consent of the governed and the accountability and peaceable replaceability of those in positions of power.
It is a civil society in which all are equal before the law.
And the law is both equal for all and supreme above all.
And a civilized society, more than anything else, requires, demands and accepts nothing but a civilized leadership.
In fact, a civilized leadership is a sine qua non – a defining characteristic and a prerequisite – of a civilized society.
And a backward, regressive, retrograde and primitive leadership is one of the most powerful and pervasive causes, consequences as well as the symptoms and indicators of the downfall and backwardness of a society.
A group, organization, community, nation or people -- any group, organization, community, nation or people --deserves better.
It deserves a better and superior leadership.
A leadership that is civilized.
It deserves a leadership...
That is more aware, concerned and caring.
That is more selfless and sacrificing.
That is more fearless and daring.
That is more innovative, imaginative, ingenious and creative.
That is more insightful, enlightened.
That is more liberated, resilient.
That is more capable, resourceful.
That is more dedicated, single-minded.
That is more competent, qualified, versed, trained and accomplished.
That is more sensitive, responsive, sharp, alert, smart, gifted.
That is wiser, more thoughtful, more far-sighted.
That is more open, forthright, accessible, democratic, flexible, cooperative, responsive, trustworthy, inclusive, giving and accommodating.
That is more responsible in what it does.
And one that is more accountable for its actions and inactions, for its commissions and for its omissions, before the governed: The People.
Which the Qur’an called Annaas 1400 years ago.
A leadership that unites rather than divides.
That excels in building bridges rather than digging trenches and erecting fences and creating ruptures.
That is an expert in the science of negotiation and the art of compromise.
That combines rock-like solidity and firmness on the core and substance of its beliefs and interests with creative flexibility and accommodation on matters of periphery, detail and interpretation.
And knows the difference between the two.
That takes its dogma, doctrine and ideology as seriously as it takes its commitment to a pragmatic approach of seeking maximum good for maximum number of people.
Not only in terms of the group, the organization, the community, the nation or the people it purports to represent, serve and lead, but also in terms of the entire human race.
A leadership that has, and can be clearly seen to have, unassailable integrity.
Honesty, probity and uprightness.
That fosters an environment of trust, openness, candor and forthrightness.
That in general operates under the glare of public scrutiny and surveillance.
And which leads by example.
Which fights in the trenches.
And which is truly part of the group, the organization, the community, the nation or the people it purports to represent, serve and lead.
Which truly springs from, belongs to and reflects and represents the group, the organization, the community, the nation or the people it purports to represent, serve and lead.
Which is freely, fearlessly and with full information, awareness, understanding, volition and willingness put in power by the group, the organization, the community, the nation or the people it purports to represent, serve and lead.
Which truly, sincerely and effectively works for and serves the best interests of its followers.
Which is fully and truly answerable and accountable to them.
It is a leadership that combines the highest levels of abilities and skills.
Ideas and vision, plans and policies.
With the highest levels of integrity and probity.
And with the right attitude and outlook.
And skills and abilities.
In an environment of openness and trust.
A leadership which believes and sees itself as the servant.
Not the master.
Of the group, the organization, the community, the nation or the people it purports to represent, serve and lead.
And acts in accordance with those beliefs and perceptions.
And as a consequence:
A leadership that can be changed and replaced, peacefully and democratically, by the group, the organization, the community, the nation or the people it purports to represent, serve and lead.
It is the most urgent, important, fundamental and inalienable right of a group, organization, community, nation or people to have a better and superior and civilized leadership of this kind.
No group, organization, community, nation or people deserves anything less.
Nor should it accept anything less.
But it is not just a right.
It is in fact a duty.
It is the most urgent, important and fundamental duty of a group, organization, community, nation or people to identify, create, develop, train, foster, nurture, install, build, empower, support, defend and protect this type of leadership.
And work to replace all other types of leadership with this kind.
Such leadership is the basic requirement and condition for the survival, success and growth of any group, organization, community, nation or people.
Few rights are more urgent, important or pressing than this right.
The right to a decent and civilized leadership.
And in fact,
Most other rights, duties and privileges flow from, and are predicated upon, this most basic, elementary, important, invaluable and indispensable of all human and civil rights.
Nor is any duty more urgent, important or pressing than this duty.
The duty to work to set up a decent and civilized leadership.
It is also the duty of a group, an organization, a community, a nation or a people to anticipate, predict, see through, answer, counter, neutralize, nullify, cope with and defeat arguments, rationalizations, attempts and activities designed or likely to deny it this kind of leadership.
Or to dilute the effectiveness of this kind of leadership by placing all sorts of distractions and obstacles in its path.
Or to destroy it altogether.
Attempts and activities designed or likely to perpetuate the group, organization, community, nation or people’s failure.
And downward spiral of its fortunes.
And its continued exploitation and domination by others.
Attempts and activities designed or likely to destroy its will.
Break its spirit.
And shatter its self-confidence.
Its sense of optimism.
Its faith in its own viability, abilities, resourcefulness and ultimate success.
Then, and only then,
Can the condition of a group, organization, community, nation or people be expected to change for the better.
The condition of a group, organization, community, nation or people does not change unless the group, organization, community, nation or people itself works to change it.
In a worldly sense, it is the people themselves who control their destiny.
For, as people, as God’s special creation, it is their privilege and prerogative – to do what they please with their lives.
To make the choices they are able to make.
A right given to them by God Almighty himself.
Therefore, by divine law and decree, the condition of a people does not change unless the group, organization, community, nation or people decide that enough is enough.
That it is time for a change.
That it is time to put an end to the old ways.
That it is time for a new beginning.
That it is time to take one's destiny in one's own hands.
And then sets about working diligently, purposefully and systematically to change its own condition.
END OF LEADERSHIP BOOK
© 2003 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.