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Islam and Leadership, Islam and Teamwork, Islam and Consultation, Islam and Joint Planning

Islam and LeadershipIslam encourages its followers to practice and develop the qualities of leadership, Teamwork, Partnership, Consultation and Joint Planning.

Islamic Leadership means a person or a group that will lead humanity from the brink of destruction to the way of Allah (SWT) the Almighty. Leadership in Islam is a trust (Amanah). It represents a psychological contract between a leader and his followers that he will try his best to guide them, to protect them and to treat them fairly and with justice. Hence, the focus of leadership in Islam is on doing good.

Every movement has a need for leadership and the importance of leadership is like the engine of a train. The train doesn't move anywhere without the engine moving. Only Islamic leadership can solve the problems of humanity.

A successful leader is one who attains his ends in the best possible manner, with the least inconvenience to the team, at the minimum cost, in record time and with a high quality performance.

Whoever wants to be a leader should educate himself before educating others. Before preaching to others he should first practice himself. Whoever educates himself and improves his own morals is superior to the man who tries to teach and train others.

Islam and Consultation: Mutual Consultation (Islamic Leadership, Islam and Teamwork)

A Lion who held all the beasts of the surrounding in subjection, and was always in the habit of making raids upon them to snap and kill any of them as he required for his daily food. It lasted very long until the beasts took counsel together and all agreed to deliver him one of their company each day. They thought that it would satisfy the Lion's hunger, and as a result, he would cease to harm them by his continual attacks.

The Lion was at first unwilling to trust them and seemed not to believe such words, thus he went on by remarking that he would prefer to rely on his effort. But, by being serious on their decision, the beasts succeeded in persuading Lion that he would do well to trust them and accept the free offerings.

Having carried the suggestion, the beasts continued for sometime to perform their engagement sending each day a certain friend of theirs to the Lion to devour.

Islam and Consultation: Mutual ConsultationOnce it happened to be the turn of a Hare to be delivered up as a victim to the Lion; but before long he requested the others to let him practice device. The friends mocked him, asking how such a silly beast as he could pretend to outwit the Lion. The Hare assured them that the wisdom only belonged to Allah (SWT), and that was He who might choose weak things to confound the strong. In the end they consented to let him try his luck.

The Hare took slowly his way to the Lion, and found him roaring in anger. In excuse for his being late Hare invented that he along with another Hare had set out together to appear before the Lion, but a strange strong Lion had seized the next Hare and carried him off into his resting place in a ditch. On hearing the pitiful remarks of the Hare the Lion was exceeding wroth, and commanded the Hare to show him the foe who had trespassed on his area. Pretending to be afraid of the second Lion, the Hare got on the present Lion to ride to the destiny upon his back, and directed him to a well. On looking down the well, the Lion saw in the water the reflection of himself and of the Hare on his back. Quite in rage, he thought that it was the strong enemy of his with the stolen Hare; he plunged down into the well to attack him.

From that moment, not only the Hare, but all his beast friends were released by their wise consolation - which is based on Surah Shura, of the Noble Qur'an: "And those who respond to their Lord and keep up prayer, and their rule is to take counsel among themselves, and who spend out of what We have given them." Noble Qur'an (42:38)

Since the principle of mutual consultation ("Shura") is mandatory, it is a Muslim's fundamental right, as well as responsibility, to participate in as many aspects of the community's life as possible.

Islam and Teamwork (Team Work): Islam and Leadership, Islam and Consultation

Islam and TeamworkAlmighty Allah (SWT) says in the Noble Qur'an: "And hold fast all together by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you) and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favor on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love so that by His grace ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of fire and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make his signs clear to you: that ye may be guided." Noble Qur'an (3:103)

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: Faithful believers are to each other as the bricks of a wall, supporting and reinforcing each other. So saying, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) clasped his hands by interlocking his fingers. [Sahih al-Bukhari]

In Islam, Allah (SWT) gives us the gift of brotherhood and sisterhood and encourages us to do things in a group setting or Team Work. Examples where Islam encourages team spirit are Juma prayers and Hajj Pilgrimage. In fact, if we fail to work effectively as a member of team, we fail to understand the true meaning of "Ummah (collectively united Community)" in Islam.

Teamwork is defined in Webster's New World Dictionary as "a joint action by a group of people, in which each person subordinates his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group." This does not mean that the individual is no longer important; however, it does mean that effective and efficient teamwork goes beyond individual accomplishments. The most effective teamwork is produced when all the individuals involved harmonize their contributions and work towards a common goal.

Lessons from Geese provide a perfect example of the importance of teamwork and how it can have a profound and powerful effect on our life. When we use these five principles in our personal life it will help us to foster and encourage a level of passion and energy in ourselves, as well as those who are our friends, associates or team members.

It is essential to remember that teamwork happens when it is continually nurtured and encouraged.

Once a wise man said - Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one.

Scientists have found that Geese flying in V formation can travel around 71% further in a session than Geese flying solo (alone). Working together on the task of flying is beneficial in a number of ways:

Lesson 1 - The Importance of Achieving Common Goals

Aerodynamic Formation - The V formation of Geese is a way that maximizes the energy expended by those flying as part of it. The bird at the front of the flock breaks the air for those flying behind it and creates a slipstream for them to be dragged along in. The birds behind also help those in front as the upward motion of their wing also create an upward draft that propels them forward. This push/pull relationship ensures all birds in the formation benefit from the work of others.

Outcome: When we have a sense of "Ummah (collectively united Community)" and focus, we create trust and can help each other to achieve our common goals.

Lesson 2 - The Importance of Team Work (Teamwork)

When a goose leaves the formation, he feels the resistance of the air and the difficulties of flying alone. Then, he quickly comes back to the formation to take advantage of the flock's power in front of him.

Outcome: If we had as much sense as Geese we would stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others. Sharing the same direction and working as a team, get us to the destination quicker and easier. By helping ourselves, the accomplishments are greater.

Lesson 3 - The Importance of Sharing (Sharing Leadership)

Islam and Team WorkRotating Leadership - Even with the pushing effect of those behind it - the front bird uses the most energy and becomes tired more quickly than others. The Geese know that and instinctively rotate leadership of the flock - allowing tired birds who have used a lot of energy for the sake of the flock to take a rest and be dragged a long for a while until it is there next turn up front.

Outcome: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks. We should respect and protect each other's unique arrangement of skills, capabilities, talents and resources.

Lesson 4 - The Importance of Empathy and Understanding

Dropping out of the Flock - as a result of sickness or injury a bird will occasionally begin to fall away from the flock - unable to keep up. Instead of allowing this bird to fly on alone - at least two others will always drop out of the flock with it. This ensures that the injured bird will be defended and cared for until it is ready to resume flying and that it will fly on with the benefit of flying in formation.

Outcome: If we have as much sense as Geese we will stand by each other. Let's stay beside each other no matter what the differences, especially in times of difficulty and great challenges. If we bond together and support each other, if we make true the spirit of teamwork, regardless of our differences, we can rise to meet our challenge.

Lesson 5 - The Importance of Encouragement

Power of the Honk - From the ground the V formation of the Geese is a beautiful thing to watch - serenely gliding across the sky these birds look quite majestic and peaceful. However get up into the flock and you find it's quite a noisy affair with the Geese constantly honking at one another. There are numerous theories about this honking and it could be partly about letting each other know where they are so there is no midair collision. But many believe that this honking is actually about creating an environment of success and mutual encouragement.

Geese flying in formation 'Honk' to encourage those up front to keep up with their speed.

Outcome: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups and teams where there is encouragement, production is much greater. 'Individual empowerment results from quality honking'.

As a result of some of these principles the Geese can fly amazing distances without stopping for rest - so much further than if they tried to do it alone. Humans, like Geese, were created to work together and to support one another. When we encourage each other and support our leaders we can accomplish amazing things, much more than trying to work alone.

Islam and Teamwork: Working Together Is Success

Islam and Teamwork: Working Together Is SuccessA team is a collection of people where each individual is a powerhouse of talent, knowledge, expertise, skill and above all the right attitude. The team is effective and powerful when it delivers the quality and results. For this all individuals should merge into the team and add value. To add that value to the team, he / she should be a team player.

A team player is one who has the right attitude and right direction to work in a team. On the contrary, a non-team player is one who does not share information, not being honest, not participative and above all are those who do not extend cooperation. They do not become one with the team. When team members do not come together with the team, the focus of the team is lost and the results are not achieved.

A team player is one who takes up responsibilities that are outside their role too. They do not feel that they have to perform tasks of other team members during contingencies. The best part of being a team player is, he / she never blames others and accepts their mistakes. Apart from this a team player would also act as a guide to the juniors who join the team.

However, being a good employee does not necessarily mean being a good team player. Working in a team is the real challenge an individual faces in the organisation. A team comprises of members from different backgrounds who are together for a purpose.

When different individuals come together different values also come in and there is enough scope for conflict to take place. The reasons for conflict could be any one of the following reasons like not following the instructions of the team leader, the team's efforts or achievements not being recognised by the boss, blame game for the mistakes that take place, individual achievements are not recognised and being neglected, roles and responsibilities of the individuals not defined clearly and difference of opinion or contradicting values of any team member.

Strategic alliance

It is an art to exhibit the qualities of a good team player. A team player is one who performs effectively and efficiently. Getting along with everyone at work is considered as a skill. Being a team member or a team leader per se is for the purpose of working together and getting along till the objectives are achieved. It also means friendship at work. Teams are made up of individuals that will, now and then, differ with one another.

What makes a team aggressive in achieving the goals is the attitude to take those differences and turn them into opportunities for development rather than turn the teammates in opposition to one another. We can call it as strategic alliance at the workplace for a common objective.

Remember, to get help from someone we must have helped them before. It is a give and take situation at work. So let us put that as a forward thinking action and lend the helping hand in our work place. Learning to be nice to people around us does not cost at all. In particular, we should not hesitate to ask for help from people who have rich experience. Most of the time, we hesitate due to being addressed as ignorant or lacking knowledge.

We need to give and take from one another at workplace and be open and receptive to new ideas. An employee can achieve his /her her best when working in a team. Those of us who have worked in different teams realise that working together closely as a team is difficult in reality. All of us have had our share of difficult colleagues and teams.

The guidelines

Team is above the individual in situations. As a team player we must remember to follow these guidelines.

  • Adapting to change
  • Not taking credit for the colleague's work
  • Learning to appreciate and recognising other members presence
  • Treating everyone with respect and dignity
  • Not involving the issues that are not significant to team's values
  • Meeting the targets or keeping the deadlines
  • Being a good communicator (special reference to listening skills)
  • Cooperating with others in the team
  • Sharing the information and knowledge that benefits all in a team

A team member enhances his / her value in the organisation by demonstrating characteristics of committed players. Every individual should understand that his / her work is an integral part of a larger organisation and is binding on the company's overall performance. Remember, if an employee is an unruly team player we cannot expect any productivity from him / her in the team.

Conscience decision

Kevin Eikenberry has listed the traits that would help the individual and team to have greater success. According to him effective team members are: committed, focused on the team's objectives, supportive, competent, collaborative, provide feedback, they are good communicators, they value and build trust, they are proactive and learners. It is only a conscience decision that brings in the team player factor in every individual.

Even for a team to win a cricket match or a football match, we as audience or spectators look at the strength of each player and the coordination of activities in the game. It is the leadership and team spirit which contributed for the success of the team. Let's recall the old phrase "united we win, divided we fall" suites every team that has to progress. Each and every team constitutes an organisation.

The end result of organisation depends on the performance of each employee.

"Coming together is a beginning; Staying together is progress; Working together is success" said Henry Ford

Best management lesson: When failure occurred, the leader of the organization owned that failure

Best management lesson: When failure occurred, the leader of the organization owned that failureFormer President of India APJ Abdul Kalam at Wharton India Economic forum, Philadelphia, March 22, 2008

Question: Could you give an example, from your own experience, of how leaders should manage failure?

APJ Abdul Kalam: Let me tell you about my experience. In 1973 I became the project director of India's satellite launch vehicle program, commonly called the SLV-3. Our goal was to put India's 'Rohini' satellite into orbit by 1980.

I was given funds and human resources - but was told clearly that by1980 we had to launch the satellite into space. Thousands of people worked together in scientific and technical teams towards that goal.

By 1979 - I think the month was August - we thought we were ready. As the project director, I went to the control center for the launch. At four minutes before the satellite launch, the computer began to go through the checklist of items that needed to be checked. One minute later, the computer program put the launch on hold; the display showed that some control components were not in order. My experts - I had four or five of them with me - told me not to worry; they had done their calculations and there was enough reserve fuel. So I bypassed the computer, switched to manual mode, and launched the rocket. In the first stage, everything worked fine. In the second stage, a problem developed. Instead of the satellite going into orbit, the whole rocket system plunged into the Bay of Bengal. It was a big failure.

That day, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, Prof. Dhawan, had called a press conference. The satellite launch was at 7:00 am, and the press conference - where journalists from around the world were present - was at 7:45 am at ISRO's satellite launch range in Sriharikota [in Andhra Pradesh in southern India]. Prof. Dhawan, the leader of the organization, conducted the press conference himself. He took responsibility for the failure - he said that the team had worked very hard, but that it needed more technological support. He assured the media that in another year, the team would definitely succeed. Now, I was the project director, and it was my failure, but instead, he took responsibility for the failure as chairman of the organization.

The next year, in July 1980, we tried again to launch the satellite - and this time we succeeded. The whole nation was jubilant. Again, there was a press conference. Prof. Dhawan called me aside and told me, 'You conduct the press conference today.'

I learned a very important lesson that day. When failure occurred, the leader of the organization owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team. The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience.

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