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Developing Your Leadership Potential through Influence November 23, 2006

Posted by humairah in Skills Development, You.

What is influence all about?

Our level of influence varies with everyone we know. It grows in stages. The first level is modeling.  One of the reasons why Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has been such an influential figure across the world amongst Muslims and Non-Muslims is because he was commanded by Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) to lead by example. Children grow up by ‘modeling’ or observing their parents. Many people are strongly influenced by people they have never met- Political leaders, singers, actors, etc.Level 2 is motivating.  Motivating is about building a person’s sense of self-worth. When people feel good about being with you, you’ve created a bridge that allows you to impact them significantly. When Khalid bin Walid (May Allah be pleased with him) stepped on to the battlefield at Yarmuk, someone said, “Look, there are so many of them”, and he replied “I wish my horse was handicapped and their numbers were twice as many. This is nothing.”1 He was an extremely motivational leader, and took the Muslims to innumerable victories.The next level is mentoring. Asmaa bint Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with her) was her son’s greatest mentor. When Abdullah was faced with battle and knew he was going to be killed, she reminded him to persevere and fight for the sake of Allah, and martyrdom is better than all the possessions he was offered.2 He was extremely proud of his mother.The final level and the highest level of influence is multiplying. ‘If you lead many people or have a high-profile position, you have a greater responsibility because of your increased influence’, write John Maxwell in his book, Becoming a Person of Influence. (more…)


The Choice within You- Developing a Positive Attitude October 9, 2006

Posted by humairah in Skills Development, You.

Before Islam, the Companions led a miserable, ignorant life. The change effected by the Qur’an in their life testifies to its power of change and reformation. Those poor, insignificant, barefooted desert dwellers were reshaped into new beings; their ambitions were elevated to sublime goals; and their hearts were raised and attached to Allah.
Their souls were changed and, therefore, Allah’s promise came true: Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition- Qur’an: Ar Ra’d 13:11.

Motivational writers such as Norman Vincent Peale have been telling us for years that a positive outlook can make people more successful in life. According to research conducted by psychologists in the late ’80’s, good health and the ability to overcome stress are also linked to a positive attitude.

What is attitude? On the surface, it could be described as the disposition we display to others. Elwood N. Chapman, author of Attitude: Your Most Priceless Possession, claims, “Attitude is a mind set. It is the way you look at things mentally.” He goes on to observe, “A positive attitude is the outward manifestation of a mind that dwells primarily on positive matters.”
Attitude is contagious. A positive attitude gives energy to you and to those around you. On the other hand, a negative attitude drains your energy and the energy of those with whom you come in contact.
Elwood N. Chapman uses the analogy of a camera. “Think of attitude as your mental focus on the outside world,” he says. “Like using a camera, you can focus or set your mind on what appeals to you. You can see situations as either opportunities or failures. A cold winter day as either beautiful or ugly. A departmental meeting as interesting or boring.” He goes on to say, “Quite simply you take the picture of life you want to take.”

So how do you go about developing a positive attitude? It’s all about the choices you make. (more…)

7 Principles of Transformational Leadership July 27, 2006

Posted by humairah in Skills Development, You.

‘…Create a synergy of energy…’

Leaders of a movement not only are called to authentically model Islamic values and principles, but they should also depend on the seven principles of transformational leadership to create a synergy of energy within their congregation.

1. Principle of Simplification – Successful leadership begins with a vision, which reflects the direction of the common course. This means, the ability to articulate a clear, practical, transformational vision which answers the question, “Where are we headed?” The stone cutters’ tale illustrates this idea: The first stone cutter says, “I’m cutting stone,” the second says, “I’m carving a cornerstone,” but the third says, “I’m building a conference hall.” The third has a vision. Where do political science students see themselves – impacting their local mosque, their community, the nation, or the world? For any team, discussing goals, objectives and vision unifies the members.

2. Principle of Motivation – The ability to gain the agreement and commitment of other people to the vision. Once the transformational leader is able to bring synergy to the organization he must then use various means to energize (motivate) the team. A common way to motivate others is to challenge them, provide ample opportunity to join the creative process, and give them the credit.

3. Principle of Facilitation – The ability to effectively facilitate the learning of individuals, teams, and other reliable and reputable resources. Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline says the primary job of leadership now is to facilitate the learning’s of others. The inborn quest of humans (staff) to learn more and more becomes the leaders greatest asset to address organizational challenges. Transformational leaders have been given a sacred trust of being stewards of their staff’s intellectual capital.

4. Principle of Innovation: The ability to boldly initiate prayerful change when needed. An effective and efficient organization requires members to anticipate change and not fear it. Leaders must initiate and respond quickly to change. Team members successfully influence one another to assimilate change because the transformational leaders have build trust and fostered teamwork.

5. Principle of Mobilization – The ability to enlist, equip and empower others to fulfill the vision. Transformational leaders look for willing participants who have already been given formal leadership responsibilities and also among people who have not. They desire leadership at all levels, so they find ways to invite and ignite leadership all levels. They introduce simple baby steps to enlist larger participants.

6. Principle of Preparation – The ability to never stop learning about themselves with and without the help of others. Rick Warren says, “Leaders are learners.” Transformational leaders realize that the transformation they pursue in is a reflection of their own spiritual quest–that they must serve the world through their giftedness because that is the only way they truly fulfill their life mission. With this mindset, moments of being stuck become moments of total dependence on God. This is such a rigorous path of learning that transformational leaders must be in thriving relationships with others pursuing transformation. It is within these vital relationships, life opportunities and obstacles get saturated in love and support.

7. Principle of Determination – The ability to finish the race. A leaders missions is sometime difficult and their journey often lonely. Leaders depend on their stamina, endurance, courage and strength to finish each day. Because their focus is not only on raising their own leadership but the development of others, the most rigorous and humbling of all human endeavors, transformational leaders experience times of self doubt, grief and fatigue. Transformational leaders have to develop spiritual, emotional, and physical disciplines to sustain their high level of commitment to their cause. (more…)

Strategic Intent May 29, 2006

Posted by humairah in Definitions & References, Management, You.

Gary Hamel and C K Prahalad have written a book, Competing for the future, where they define, 'Strategic Intent'. This was first introduced in 1989, in the Harvard Business Review.

It's an interesting concept in management, and I think it's important because of the importance of having the right intentions in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, 'Innamal 'amaalu bin niyyaat'- Actions are indeed by intentions.

So, extending this concept (and it's a huge extension!) to the company level,  strategic intent is:

"an ambitious and compelling … dream that energizes … that provides the emotional and intellectual energy for the journey … to the future."

If strategic architecture (a high-level blueprint for the deployment of new functionalities, the acquisition of new competencies or the migration of existing competencies, and the reconfiguring of the interface with customers) is the brain, strategic intent is the heart.

What a company has currently- resources, labour, capability, are not enough. Strategic intent should give a sense of stretch, and this sense of stretch has 3 attributes:

  1. Direction: You have a particular point of view about the competitiveness of your firm. This foresightedness should convey a clear direction in the future.
  2. Discovery: Encourage employees to open up new venues, exploration, ideas, creativity, new territories that are unique.
  3. Destiny: Beginning with the end in mind. Where are you going? What's in your hands? What can you change? What are your takes? How do you feel? (more…)