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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES-03

0510-DISEASES OF LEADERS AND FOLLOWERS

Paper at the Leadership Enhancement Program of the Institute of Medicine, Universiti Brunei Darussalam held at Empire Hotel and Resort on October 1, 2005

OUTLINE

3.1 BACKGROUND OF LEADERSHIP DISEASES

A. Human Imperfections:

B. Socialization:

C. Diseases:

D. Deviant Personality:

E. Deviant Values:

 

3.3 DISEASES MANIFESTING IN THE PERSON

A. Pride and Vanity:

B. Petty-Mindedness:

C. Uncompensated Weaknesses:

D. Ignorance:

E. Lack of Creativity:

 

3.4 DISEASES MANIFESTING IN DEALING WITH FOLLOWERS

A. Seeking Excessive Veneration:

B. Oppression and Injustice:

C. Manipulation:

D. Dishonesty and Seeking False Reputation:

E. Abandoning Followers:

 

3.3 DISEASES OF FOLLOWERS:

A. Hypocrisy

B. Insincerity

C. Bad Advice for Leaders

D. Disloyalty

E. Flattery

 


3.1 BACKGROUND OF LEADERSHIP DISEASES

A. HUMAN IMPERFECTIONS:

With the exception of prophets, no leaders or follower can claim perfection. Any leader will have diseases (hopefully few). Followers also have diseases. The diseases of leaders and followers could be synergistic. The aim of good leadership is to minimize or compensate for diseases. This requires maturity and balance. The leader must be able to look at himself in a mirror or listen to trusted advisors to know and acknowledge weaknesses. Only the greatest can do this.

 

B. SOCIALIZATION:

Bad leadership is learned from poor role models in the home, the general society, and the work-place. Societies or organizations that depended on authoritarianism, no delegation, no participation produced the worst leaders in history.

 

C. DISEASES:

Good leaders have attributes and skills that have been discussed. Bad leaders are not necessarily those with opposite attributes and skills. Bad leaders have definite diseases that could exist alongside some of the good qualities. In the extreme some bad leaders have only diseases and none of the good qualities.

 

D. DEVIANT PERSONALITY:

Some bad leaders are actually psychologically sick: sadists, megalomaniacs, jealous, immature, or psychopathic personalities. Organizations and societies that allow such individuals to rise to the top pay a heavy price.

 

E. DEVIANT VALUES:

It is an irony of human experience that the best and the worst leaders can share some of the same practical and conceptual skills. They differ in the underlying values, personality, goals, and how the skills are used. Good moral leaders serve humanity while the bad ones cause suffering and harm.

 

3.3 DISEASES THAT MANIFEST IN THE PERSON

A. PRIDE AND VANITY:

Leaders are supposed to be humble in dealing with their followers as the prophet was enjoined to be humble to the believers, janaah al dhull li al muuminiin[i]. Pride and vanity have destroyed many leaders. They are from the SHAITAN and eventually lead to mutual hatred between leaders and followers. They may also become a disease of both the leader and his followers in which case there is mutual hatred between groups, organizations, and even nations.

 

B. PETTY-MINDEDNESS:

Petty-mindedness is a sign of an immature personality and lack of vision. Small things become big while big things are not even recognized. The self becomes more important than the public interest.

 

 

C. UNCOMPENSATED WEAKNESSES:

A leader is a human being and cannot be perfect. There will be weaknesses. The way to deal with them is to compensate for them by relying on strong people who have the skills that the leader may lack. The careful leader will also avoid activities that he lacks the ability to do well.

 

D. IGNORANCE:

Some bad leaders are sincere and are committing mistakes without being aware of them. Some commit mistakes because of basic inner limitations. Ignorance of a leader that is not acknowledged or compensated for spells disaster for the organization. Wrong decisions will be made and will be defended by the leader.

 

E. LACK OF CREATIVITY:

When a leader starts thinking he knows all and is perfect in all what he is doing, he closes his mind to new ideas. He suppresses creativity and innovation and persists in old ways even if they are unproductive. Some of such leaders realize the futility of their stand and tend to hide behind bureaucratic policies, rules, and regulations.

 

3.4 DISEASES THAT MANIFEST IN DEALING WITH FOLLOWERS

A. SEEKING EXCESSIVE VENERATION:

Bad leaders with weak egos seek excessive veneration from their followers. These are inadequate persons who are not sure of themselves. An organization that allows such persons to occupy leadership positions will regret the consequences.

 

B. OPPRESSION and INJUSTICE:

Bad leaders who lack legitimacy, personal authority, and self-confidence tend to be oppressive. They try to use force to impose their will. Those who oppose this are dealt with badly. Oppression eventually fails.

 

Bad leaders treat followers unequally. There is favoritism. Those who praise the leader and pander to his ego are preferred over the more principled ones. Sychopanths are brought near while the productive and hard-working are kept away. Favoritism may also manifest as nepotism, appointments or promotions based on family relationships and not merit. Injustice of a bad leader may be in attitude, actions, judgments, decisions, and communication. All what deviates from the truth and fair and equitable treatment is injustice. The leader who is just has great recompense from Allah, ajr al imaam al aadil[ii].

 

C. MANIPULATION:

Bad leaders are manipulative. They control and do not build or develop their followers. Manipulation is not leadership. It is a form of coercion and deception. A manipulative leader does not deal honestly with followers. He uses physical and psychological pressures to get compliance. Often he uses outright deception.

 

D. DISHONESTY and SEEKING FALSE REPUTATION:

A dishonest leader will be punished in hell, al waali al ghaashi fi al naar[iii]. Bad leaders concentrate on building false reputations, appearances, and images. They neglect the hard work that produces real results. Such leaders who deceive themselves and their followers will not hide their weaknesses for long. False leaders are exposed sooner or later. If not exposed in their lifetime or period of tenure, history will expose them in unflattering terms. The Qur'an recounts stories of such leaders in bygone eras as a lesson to all of us.

 

E. ABANDONING FOLLOWERS:

Bad leaders will abandon their followers in times of crisis or danger. They will not stand to share the pain with them or lead them to a solution.

 

3.5 DISEASES OF FOLLOWERS:

A. HYPOCRISY

Hypocrisy is when they say something in front of the leader and the opposite when away from him. They may outwardly show loyalty and obedience when they are secretly plotting against the leader.

 

B. INSINCERITY

Insincerity is all forms of dishonesty and lies to the leader and fellow followers. It also includes doing things for selfish individual interests while hurting the interests of the group

 

C. BAD ADVICE FOR LEADERS

Some followers may give advice to a leader that they know is bad either for some selfish personal gain, or to hurt someone else, or to hurt the leader by making him commit mistakes.

 

D. DISLOYALTY

Disloyalty in all its forms is bad. It is however not loyalty to support and follow a leader in committing immoral acts. Followers must obey the leader as long as he is ordering them to do good. Disobedience rapidly results into chaos and break down of the civil order. Violence by the ruler against followers or among followers rapidly ensues in a situation of anarchy. It is for this reason that obedience should not be withheld even if the leader commits some minor mistakes.

 

E. FLATTERY

Some followers may spoil the leader by pandering to his ego and showing him excessive veneration. When all of this gets to his head he may start behaving like a dictator, develop vanity and pride and eventually fail in leadership.

 

REFERENCES

NB: due to shortage of time it has not been possible to re-verify the Qur’an and hadith references below.


[i] (Qur’an 26:215)

[ii]  (Muslim K33 H18, Muslim K33 H19, Muslim K33 H43, Tirmidhi K13 B4, Nisai K49 B2,)

[iii] (Muslim K1 H229, Ahmad 2:425, Ahmad 2:431, Ahmad 2:479, Ahmad 2:521, Ahmad 3:441)

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule October 2005