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Leading By Example

What springs to mind when you think of a leader? What qualities define a good leader? and is leadership necessary?

These are some of the questions we will be reviewing in this blog.

Let us start by having an understanding of the words Leader and Leadership.

Leader:  a person in control of a group, country, or situation: 1

Leadership: refers to the qualities that make someone a good leader, or the methods a leader uses to do his or her job. 2

Professor Bernd Vogel 3 who spoke on the Voice of Islam show on which this blog is based  4 made some key points. He said that leading is a group effort  and it is about bringing other people on. He also mentioned that it was up to the leader themselves if they chose to grow and develop in their role.

It would seem that for successful leadership, it requires that the people being led want to follow and engage in the process.

So, what makes up the key traits of a good leader?

John Maxwell an American author, speaker, and pastor  has written many books, primarily focusing on leadership. Titles include The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. 5

Here are a few of his thoughts on the subject. 6

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”

“A leader with confidence is a leader who brings out positive changes in people.”

“To lead any way other than by example, we send a fuzzy picture of leadership to others. If we work on improving ourselves first and make that our primary mission, then others are more likely to follow.”

Simon Sinek 7  author and inspirational speaker makes some wonderful points in this talk 8. He says:

“There are 2 things great leaders need to have….Empathy and Perspective” (1min18sec)

“The real job of a leader is not about being in charge its about taking care of those in our charge” (1min 32sec)

When we look at the current world situation we get to ‘take measure’ of our world leaders. Do they embody some the traits spoken of by Bernd Vogel, John Maxwell and Simon Sinek?

We could definitely argue that there is much room for improvement. So, as Muslims who do we turn to as an example of great leadership.

Of course, the answer has to be the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him)

In the muslim holy book, the Quran, it says: 9

Verily you have in the Prophet of Allah an excellent model, for him who fears Allah and the Last Day and who remembers Allah much. 33:22

As stated in the VOI show, all the prophets are the best of people of their time. They are different to worldly leaders, they are not elected but chosen by God.

Even though they did not have physical resources like our current world leaders, they still managed to complete the tasks they were asked to do. They, of course, had support from the Almighty.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him)  was more than just a spiritual leader. As Islam expanded he had to become a statesman, at times a military commander, he led in every possible way, his life, his actions and behaviours, were an example in itself.

This is perfectly summed up by his Holiness, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad( Peace be upon him)  in his book Al Hakam:

 The life of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, was a life of grand success. In his high moral qualities, his spiritual power, his high resolve, the excellence and perfection of his teaching, his perfect example and the acceptance of his prayers, in short, in every aspect of his life, he exhibited such bright signs that even a person of low intelligence, provided he is not inspired by unreasonable rancour and enmity, is forced to confess that he was a perfect example of the manifestation of Divine qualities and was a perfect man.

The need to inspire, influence, generate positive change,  have clarity of purpose and direction, have empathy and most importantly to live your life as an example to your followers seem to be the highest traits of a leader and the most effective way to lead by example.

These traits are all present in our beloved leader, the Holy Prophet Muhammad(Peace and blessings be upon him) The ultimate example for us all.



  1. Cambridge Dictionary: Leader
  2. Collins: Leadership
  3. Professor Bernd Vogel: Bernd Vogel Profile
  4. SoundCloud: Drivetime Show Podcast – Leading by Example
  5. Wikipedia: John C. Maxwell
  6. Inc.: 44 Inspiring John C Maxwell Quotes for Leadership Success
  7. Wikipedia: Simon Sinek
  8. YouTube: Most Leaders Don’t Even Know the Game They’re In – Simon Sinek
  9. The Holy Quran: Chapter 33, Verse 22
  10. Al Islam: The Promised Messiah, Al-Hakam, pg. 5