Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 8th edition (2010), defines leader as a person who leads a group of people, especially the head of a country, an organization, etc.
To be a wonderful leader, one should possess combinations of some of the following qualities:
(1) Leaders Have Good Communication Skills
Leaders are good communicators. They leave no doubt about the meaning of their message. That’s what Stan Toler (2002) wrote in his book “Minute Motivators for Leaders”. He added that communication process isn’t complete until the audience has both listened and understood the delivered message.
Bob Adams (2001) in his book “The Everything Leadership Book” said that effective communication skills are integral to any working partnership / team or personal relationship. Therefore, according to him, it is safe to say that good communication skills are one of the building blocks of being an effective leader.
(2) Leaders Are People with Courage
Courage is largely habit and self-confidence. It is a valuable commodity on the battlefield or in the board room. Alan Axelrod (1999) mentioned this in his book “Patton on Leadership”. According to him, General George S. Patton, Jr., one of the most decorated American heroes during World War II, believed that courage could be learned – acquired through practice.
According to Marshall Loeb and Stephen Kindel (1999) in their book “Leadership for Dummies”, leaders learn how to suck up their courage, trust their instincts, and move ahead into the unknown, even when they’re just as scared as their followers.
(3) Leaders Pay Attention to Details
During World War II, in commanding the U.S. Third Army, General Patton understood that wet socks lead to trenchfoot and other conditions that keep a man from marching, wrote Axelrod (1999). Socks are a small and lowly item, but Patton realized that on dry socks (and healthy feet), the efficiency of his army depended.
On the other hand, lack of attention to details can result in tragedy. According to Seth Godin (1995) in his book “Wisdom, Inc.”, the space shuttle Challenger exploded because a fifteen-cent rubber part did not function in unusually cold weather. Several brilliant scientists (and astronauts) were killed because this one tiny detail was overlooked.
Napoleon Hill (1937) in his book “Think and Grow Rich” mentioned about the mastery of detail, which was one of the 11 important factors of leadership. According to him, successful leadership calls for mastery of the details of the leader’s position.
(4) Leaders are Problem Solvers
“You can measure a leader by the problems he tackles. He always looks for ones his own size”, wrote by John C. Maxwell (1999) in his book “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader”.
Every workplace will have some conflict, no matter how great the leadership team may be. Leaders need to identify conflict as early as possible and determine what kind of conflict is involved and its underlying causes. These remarks were written by Bob Adams (2001) in his book “The Everything Leadership Book”.
(5) Leaders Build Relationships
Building relationships based on trust was one of the topics covered by Ian Lawson (2001) in his book “Leadership”. According to him, there are seven key behaviours / attributes in this area:
- Not putting self-interest before the interests of your staff,
- Keeping promises and doing what you say you will do,
- Being in touch with and sensitive to other people’s feelings,
- Being calm in a crisis and when under pressure,
- Being honest and truthful,
- Not taking personal credit for other people’s work, and
- Always being fair.
(6) The Leader as Team-Builder
Ismail Noor (2002) wrote his book “Prophet Muhammad’s Leadership” that the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. is acknowledged as an exemplary team leader who knew how to get the best out of his principal lieutenants by understanding the true value of the human resource factor.
According to him, effective team-working stems from people complementing, rather than, rivalling, each other or merely co-existing alongside one another.
The leading members of the Majlis Syura or the Consultative Council during the time of the Prophet’s governance were Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, Umar Al-Khattab, Uthman Al-Affan, Ali bin Abi Talib, Zaid bin Thabit Al-Ansari, Abd. Rahman bin ‘Auf, Salmaan Al-Farsi, and ‘Ubayy bin Ka’b.
Scene at the door to Makam Rasulullah, peace be upon him, at Masjid Nabawi in Madinah
(7) The Leader as Visionary
In her book “Leadership Skills for Managers”, Marlene Caroselli (2001) stated that for leaders to effect positive change, they must have a picture of what the improvement will look like. That improvement, on a small or grand scale, is called a vision.
According to Ros Jay (2004), vision is the ability to develop the future strategy of the business. In her book “The Successful Candidate”, she wrote: “vision implies that not only can you see ahead and respond well in advance, but that you can also be pro-active, setting the trend yourself and setting how the business will look in several years’ time.
“Wonderful leaders are comparable to eagles. They fly higher but not in flocks, like most birds”.
17 Ramadan 1434H (Nuzul al-Quran)