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Written by Louay Safi   
Oct 09, 2005 at 05:36 AM
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Visionary Leadership*
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The importance of honesty and openness in communication may be illustrated in the following exchange between Aba Bakr al Siddiq and Khalid bin al Walid. Receiving disturbing news about Khalid's conduct, Abu Bakr neither acted on rumors to discipline his army's commander nor concealed his dissatisfaction with what was supposed to have happened.

Rather, he chose to communicate with Khalid and give him the opportunity to clarify his position. Similarly, Khalid chose to respond candidly to his superior's query.

In a Ietter addressed to Khalid, Abu Bakr inquired about his marriage to the daughter of the chief of the tribe to which he had been sent to discipline and with which he and his soldiers had engaged in ferocious battle:

O Khalid! ... You are enjoying yourself with your bride, while the blood of twelve hundred Muslims (which was spilled in the battle) right at your doorstep has not dried yet. Muja'ah [the tribe's chief] was able to deceive you and entice you to a treaty after you had defeated his people.''[14]

Responding to these accusations, KhaIid wrote back:

I assure you that I did not take my bride until I was satisfied (with the results of the battle) and my mission was completed. And I have chosen to marry (the daughter of') a person whom I would have traveled from Madinah to seek his relation, but my engagement to his (daughter) was prompted as I am present here. If you disapprove of my marriage for (any) temporal or religious (reasons), I would desist.

As to my mourning of the deceased Muslims, by Allah if grieving protects the living or brings back the dead, my grieving would have done that. I have indeed ambushed until I had no more hope in life, and became certain of my death.

As to Muja'ah's deception, I do still even now believe that I have made no mistake, and I do not know what the future would bring. But I do believe that Allah has brought goods to the Muslims, made them the inheritors of the land, and conferred the final triumph on the pious.[15]

Abu Bakr's decision to communicate his concerns and Khalid's decision to be open and frank were crucial for clarifying misgivings and dispelling suspicion. These attitudes prevented the development of an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion, which undoubtedly would have affected relations among Muslim leaders. While communication is essential for facilitating understanding and exchanging ideas and views, the unity and integration of group members hinges on the actions of the leader and on the kind of measures adopted to deal with subordinates. Not only should leaders ensure that the requirements of fairness and justice are met, but they must project an attitude of caring and sharing to their subordinates. The demands for loyalty to the organization and for devotion to the task at hand must be reciprocated by a true concern for the well-being and growth of followers. Appropriate rewards must be provided, both in terms of material compensation and moral recognition of contributions. Opportunities for improvement in status should also be given.

In short, organization members must feel that they are full partners in improvement and growth if they are to be forthcoming when their contribution

and sacrifice is required.

Empowerment

The task of leading does not end with mobilizing group members to pursue a vision and inspiring followers to strive for a common cause, but extends to maintaining the unity of their organizations and the momentum of their progress. Indeed, the acid test of leadership lies in its ability to ensure the involvement and cooperation among followers and to keep the momentum going. For unity and cooperation to be maintained, a culture of devotion, satisfaction, and trust must be created. This requires that special attention be given to empowering the members by giving them the opportunity to develop their skills and contribute to the development of the organization. Good leaders are usually exemplary members of the organization who inspire others by their words and actions, and who take interest in the well-being and maturation of those who work with them.

Empowerment does not end with inspiring and moving people, but naturally includes channeling their energies and utilizing their skills. Leaders are expected to empower their subordinates by assigning responsibilities and delegating to them enough power to allow them to execute those responsibilities successfully. Leaders who neglect to delegate authority to subordinates are guilty of not only failing to utilize available resources and skills, but of undermining their organizations, for giving subordinates the opportunity to face problems and difficulties and to learn how to overcome them is an important aspect of developing their skills and capabilities.


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