7 Guidelines for Muslim CEOs and People in Leadership Position

Muslim CEOs have the same leadership responsibility as any CEOs appointed to navigate companies. The only difference is that they are going to be held accountable not just to the board of directors but also to Allah. 

The first group, you can convince with good communication, impressive presentation and often with creative accounting. But when you stand before Allah on judgment day the truth will be laid down bare. The deliverables are also of a different nature. You carry the burden of the people that you lead.

What should a Muslim leader use as a guiding principle in leadership? Obviously, it is none other than the Quran. But, it is difficult to find any resources that guide a Muslim in a leadership position on how he should act based on the Quran and Sunnah. After researching I compile 7 things that a Muslim in leadership position should observe.

This is not based on the Quran or any particular Hadith, but some of them can be traced back to Sultan Abdul Hamid II. As a Muslim no matter how small your flock is these 7 guidelines would be helpful to your role as a leader,

Pray Right Away

When it is time for Salah, unless you’re guarding the borders against invasion of aliens from outer space you should stop whatever you are doing and go meet to perform your Salah. I suffered a lot with bosses who when it is time for Salah they insist on a meeting, they would say “Oh it just 5 minutes” then it would drag on until 5 minutes before Maghrib. This might be understandable when you live in a Muslim minority country. But it is difficult to understand if you in control and can hear the Azan 5 times a day.

Praying in time is about cultivating discipline and keeping your eyes on the prize which is gaining Allah pleasures. This is the top priority. If you are what’s in it for me kind of person you might want to check out this study titled Effect of Muslim Prayer (Salat) on α electroencephalography and Its Relationship with Autonomic Nervous System Activity.

The finding of that study is that during salat, parasympathetic activity increased and sympathetic activity decreased.  In simple language, regular salat practices help promote relaxation, minimize anxiety, and reduce cardiovascular risk.

Stay Calm and Composed

As a leader, you are being watched and what you do can influence others more ways than you can imagine. Especially if you do something which is not befitting of a leader, like using foul language or throw a tantrum, someday it is going to go viral on social media. If you have a bad temper, get a grip on it.

A bad temper is like great branding. It sticks to you forever so don’t let a moment of weakness become your identity. I don’t think I need to justify this with research findings the video below would suffice to send the message across

No matter what issue you are confronted with, Allah has complete knowledge of it. So there is no need to get all work up when everything is going according to Allah’s plan. You may not be able to change how your subordinate behaves, but Allah can turn grief, sadness and frustration into happiness in an instant.  

Also Read: Leadership Lessons In Times Of Crisis From An Unbeatable Leader

Reflects on your faults

As leader, the buck stops with you. Everything that has gone wrong and will go wrong is entirely your fault. So reflect on your fault and don’t put the blame on your team or circumstances. Your only duty is to set things right.

As leader you are at fault for hiring the wrong person. When you make a decision you are at fault in seeking compliance before commitment. You may be able to delegate responsibility but not accountability.  

Mend hearts and Spread love

There is no such thing as professional life and personal life, if a team member has a problem in his life, it is going to impact on his performance. It is your job to know what they are going through. Workers are not like tools in a workshop where you can use it for an objective, and then set aside. 

Also you should be sincere in your empathy, not because you want them in top condition to discharge their duties. You should genuinely care that your team members have happiness in their life. Of course there are people who never see good in anything. This you can’t do much about except transfer them to the risk management department.    

Also Read: 4 Proven Dubai Leadership Habits that brought Remarkable Success

Intention for Allah

Whether you are at the helm of a cruise ship, company or a state, everything you do should be for Allah. If it is not for the sake of Allah then it is just a waste of time, no matter what you achieve. It is a bit difficult in a secular world to attribute what we do for the sake of Allah. You need to reflect on it, InsyaAllah you’ll be able to connect whatever you do to Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala.  

If you manage to do this, your task at hand will be easier, there will be less hick-ups and things will be smooth. Several studies have suggested that if you do a task with a conscious intention the result is far better than doing it without intention. 

In  2007 The Intention Experiment, explored the science of intention, drawing on the findings of leading scientists around the world, uses cutting-edge research conducted at Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and other universities and laboratories that reveal intent is capable of profoundly affecting all aspects of our lives. What greater intention is there when you do something with the full knowledge that you are doing it for your creator. 

Also Read: Why Every Muslim CEO can Master Quran Arabic

Be Humble

Humility now seems to be a trend for leaders to gain popularity and support. If this is the case then you are not doing it with the right intention. Research on positivity has found that Humility tends to strengthen social band or the social bond hypothesis. What this really means is that it creates a sense of solidarity and galvanised commitment.

As Muslim, you can be genuinely be humble is when you accept nothing that you achieve is by your doing but they are gifts from Allah. So it is by his mercy and choice that you are succesfull, it is not because of your SWOT analysis or Fishbone theory. It is all from Allah. 

Be Truthful

Many contemporary scholars who conduct research on Leadership Traits from Islamic Perspective have consensus that Truthfulness is the most important trait of leaders from an Islamic point of view.  Truthfulness here means Amanah, which really means that you don’t engage in creative accounting or pay for fake reviews or testimonials and call it marketing. 

If you have to engage in those kind activities usually prevalent before a board meeting, that means, there is something wrong and you are not addressing it. Soon it will snowballed and bite you in the face. So be truthful, about things even if it means it will make you look unpopular.  

Also Read: The Importance of Self-Reflection

Make Tawbah

In secular culture every achievement is call for celebration, I tried to look into the Seerah and see, if there is any similarity. Here is what I found:

After the conquest of Makkah, the Muslims were told to ask for forgiveness. So whenever you achieve something how you should respond is by asking for forgiveness.

In the secular western world in many self-help books you are encouraged to forgive but nobody talks about repentence. 

After,searching high and low for an empirical study of repentance, I found one about brain plasticity, repentance can cause the brain to go into structural changes. Hardwired neurons that form your habits are weakened and allow you to transform your habit overnights when you practice repentance. That is the power of Tawbah now verified by neuroscience. 

There is a study that I qoute in my book about how, Tawbah can caused an overnight structural change in the brain. Tawbah is the key to transformation. Scientist are still baffled as to how brain can change structurally so fast. There is a study by Tel Aviv University that linked repentence with transformation.

Perhaps this is the meaning of an Ayah in the Quran that says {Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good deeds} [Quran 25:70]. 

So All, the things that Allah ask us to do and sometimes we think it it makes life hard for us is for our own good.

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