Islamic Management: Meetings and Consultation (2)

We briefly discussed the importance of syura (meetings and consultation) in Islam in the last article. In this article, we will briefly touch upon the ways it was practiced during the time of the second Caliph, Saidina Umar Al-Khattab r.a. There is a specific reason we chose his period.

The issues that required syura became numerous during Saidina Umar’s rule because many new issues as Islam spread and reached lands with civilizations, traditions and different systems. New problems were created which required comprehensive ijtihad, such as how to deal with conquered lands, how to regulate stipend according to new principles, how to war booty collected by the state was to be spent. Saidina Umar r.a. used to assemble the largest number of senior Sahabah he could for syura, and the shaykhs of Badr enjoyed a special status with regard to syura because of their virtue, knowledge and superiority.

Saidina Umar r.a. considers holding syura as one of the key traits of a leader. It shows decisiveness, humility and resourcefulness. He says:

“Men are of three types: a man who deals with problems according to his own opinion; a man who consults other with regard to matters he is confused about and follows the opinion of those who have wisdom; and a man who is confused and helpless, as he does not consult others and cannot take decisions.”

Consultation and meetings are also a key trait for leadership. Consultative practices allows the leader to analyze the situation from different perspectives prior to making a decision. Saidina Umar r.a. put this into practice as a leader. He used to consult the common people first and listen to them, then he would gather the elder Companions of the Messenger of Allah (SWT) and the people of wisdom among them, tell them about the issue and ask them to reach a good conclusion, and whatever they agreed upon, he would carry it out.

His actions in this case are similar to those of constitutional regimes in many kingdoms where issues are first discussed in the parliament, for example, then after being agreed upon by the majority, they are referred to a higher council which may be called “senators” or “lords”, and once that council has reached its decision, the king executes a decree. The difference between what Saidina Umar did and what these kingdoms do is that in Saidina Umar’s case it was based on his own ijtihad (opinion), without there being any system or laws in place.

On many occasions, Saidina Umar examined an issue, thought about it and expressed his view, then the weakest of people would come and explain the correct view, offering evidence for that, and Saidina Umar would retract his mistaken view and accept the correct view once he became convinced of it.

Extending from this style of leadership, Saidina Umar used to urge his military commanders to engage in syura (mutual consultation). For example, when he sent Abu `Ubayd ath-Thaqafi to fight the Persians in Iraq, he said to him: “Listen to and obey the Companions if the Prophet (SAW) and let them have a say, especially those among them who were present at Badr.”

He considers those who are senior and more experienced as valuable resources to overcome challenges and achieve excellence. As such, he instructs the highest military commanders to keep their egos low and consult experts as well as others.

To illustrate this point further, as another example, Saidina Umar used to write to his commanders in Iraq, telling them to consult `Amr ibn Ma`diyakrib and Talhah al-Asadi concerning their military affairs. He said to them: “Consult Talhah al-Asadi and `Amr ibn Ma`diyakrib and seek their help concerning war, but do not give them any control over your affairs, for each person knows his own field best.”

This also illustrates another point. Consulting another person or having meetings does not imply delegating power or giving them control. The control and responsibility should still be held by the leaders. Consultation and meetings should help leaders to be more decisive.

Saidina Umar r.a. was not the only sahabah who practiced Syura. One of the things that `Urwah said to `Utbah ibn Ghazwan when he sent him to Basrah was: “I have written to al-`Ala` al-Hadrami, telling him to send `Arfajah ibn Harthamah to you, for he is experienced in warfare and in drawing up plans to defeat the enemy. When he comes to you, consult him and keep him close to you.”

To be continued…

Leadership – Inspiring and Motivating (Part 4)

Inspiring and Motivating is an essential part of leadership. A pat on the shoulder, an on-the-spot recognition, a praise on a job well done resonates deeper into the human soul. We often forget that our staff and followers are humans, that require the occasional affirmation from others. It is the quintessential feeling that allows us to work as a “pack” and function as a “society”.

In sport, when the game is tied and time out is called, the coach reminds the players what is at stake – the reward that waits for the winning team that makes the effort. This is inspiring them to reach greatness by sacrificing momentary pain and putting in the maximum effort to gain the reward later.

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Another way of inspiring the team as a manager is to challenge the team members with the memory of past victories, with examples of their accomplishments, contributions and sacrifices. This helps the leader to inspire them and acknowledge their contributions at the same time. The team is motivated to surpass, not others, but themselves.

Essentially, a leader will need to enthuse, excite and encourage so that the followers believe that they can do it. Motivating and inspiring is about them, not about you. It is about their qualities. It is about instilling confidence and energy that focuses their efforts in achieving results. That is essence that will imbue the followers with ownership.

The leader needs to make the follower “own” the vision. He/She needs to inspire and motivate to an extent that followers or their team accept the vision as their own vision and strive to achieve that goal. This is how self-perpetuating motivation arises.

As people become motivated, they trust, which reinforces their abilities. This affirms their actions which, in turn, motivates them.

Mohd Prasad Hanif – An Introduction

Mohd Prasad offers Business and Leadership Coaching, Training and Consultation for small, medium and large enterprises. Certified as one of the Best Coaches by Centre for Entrepreneur Development and Research, Malaysia, Mohd Prasad brings to the table over 6 years over 50 companies with many obtaining 4 star rating by SME Corp of Malaysia.

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He provides business coaching and development in the areas of Strategic Management, Finance Management, Leadership, Sales and Marketing and Talent Development. He is also the Program Manager for the Bumiputera Vendor Development Program Batch 1 and Batch 2 comprising of 40 bumiputera companies. Mohd Prasad combines the unique experience of an engineer and his experience as a business owner and entrepreneur to formulate Business Engineering Formulas to troubleshoot problem areas to focus in the business.

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Accomplished and integrity-driven professional offering over 16 years of professional success on national and international levels with strong concentration and enormous success in project management, business development, and human capital development.

Recognized as a savvy, charismatic leader with strengths in reengineering business processes, defining continuous improvement, conducting lively brainstorming sessions, achieving consensus, recognizing and accelerating peer’s strengths, delegating purposefully and building powerful teams that exhibit unwavering determination and stoic resolve. Also, acknowledged as a business focused professional with diverse business knowledge, experienced in various industries and propensity to fuel positive change.

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Praised, commended and awarded for innovation, bravely exploring “uncharted waters”, rising during to the occasion during tough times. Capitalizing on strong business acumen and natural leadership talents to steer the business and team towards excellence and new directions.