Management Lessons: From a Familiar History

Introduction

The Qur'an relates the story of the Prophets Musa (alayhis salaam) and Harun (alayhis salaam) in several different chapters, including Surah Ta Ha from verses 24 to 36. In each instance, the story highlights one or more aspects of their role and actions as appropriate to the Quranic message at that point. When we bring together this revealed knowledge about the two prophets, we discover that the full story includes key leadership and management lessons.

We begin an examination of these key lessons that can be learnt from this story. You may have read the story several times before; still you should ponder on these divinely-inspired management lessons.

Allaah says; "Go You to Firawn, for he had indeed transgressed all bounds." (Musa) said: "O my Lord! Expand me my breast; Ease my task for me; And remove the impedimemt from my speech. So they may understand what I say: And give me a Minister from my family, Harun, my brother; Add to my strength through him, And make him share my task: That we may celebrate Your praise without stint, And remember You without stint: For You are He that ever regards us." (Allah) said: "Granted is your prayer, O Musa" (Q20[Ta Ha]:24-36)

Command to Musa (alayhi salaam)

Allaah commanded Musa (alayhis salaam) to confront Firawn, the powerful, disbelieving and oppressive king of the time, saying: "Go You to Firawn, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds." (Q20[Ta Ha}:24) At this stage, Allaah's command was directed to Musa (alayhis salaam) alone as an individual. Musa (alayhis salaam) recognized this to be a great challenge and a formidable task to accomplish. His response to this assignment provides many lessons in leadership. These form the roots of important contemporary concepts related to teamwork and cooperation.

Leadership Lessons in Musa's (alayhis salaam) Response

1: Asking for Allah's Help in Response to Allaah's Command: Musa (alayhis salaam) first asked for Allah's help to enhance his capabilities and enable him to succeed in completing the assigned task. His plea for help represents the hallmark of a Muslim leader or individual, full of humility and dependent on His Lord for everything. "(Musa) said: O my Lord! Expand for me my breast (i.e heart); ease my task for me;"(Q20[Ta Ha}:25-26). The great lesson here is that whenever any Muslim finds himself in a position of leadership or responsibility no matter how lowly it might appear, his first task is to seek help from Allah in order to succeed in that position.

2: Recognizing One's Limitations: Next, Musa (alayhis salaam) took an inventory of the skills required for the job, assessed his own skills, and recognized his limitations. It is critical for the success of a mission to understand what skills are required and to identify ones own strengths and weaknesses in the context of what is needed. The lesson here is that confident and responsible people who really want to succeed do not shy away from confronting their limitations. Immediately, Musa (a/ayhis salaam) recognized that his communication skills were not as effective. He asked Allaah to remove the difficulty he had in speaking effectively: "And remove the impediment from my speech." (Q20[Ta-Ha]:27) Elsewhere, the Quran refers to Musas (alayhis salaam) request as follows: "My breast will be streghtened. And my speech may not go (smoothly): so send unto Harun ...ヤ (Q26[AI-Shuara]:13) In stating his requests. to Allaah, Musa (alayhis salaam) reveals his pragmatic approach and his ability to assess potential problems. Again, he shows an awareness of his own limitations but then he did not show the common urge of hiding his limitations to the Boss who had assigned. the task to him.Such courage is rare in men but it must be present in the Muslim who fears Allaah and knows that he would ultimately account to Him. With the difficulties and limitations in mind, Musa (alayhis salaam) proposes a solution: form a team to do the job, with the teammate complementing the leaders skills.

3: Focusing on Effective Communication: Musa (alayhis salaam) made the request to "remove the impediment from my speech" for a reason which illustrates a profound principle - in fact, the essence of communication, His reason was: "So they may understand what I say:" (Q20[Ta Ha]:28) Note that.the reason for communicating is to make people understand you. Thus, Musa (alayhis salaam) did not ask for removing the impediment in his speech so that he could speak better or more impressively. Instead he asked for Allaah to remove the impediment from his speech so that those who listened to him could understand him. This is the core of communication, that the receiver of the message should understand fhe messaqe as it should be understood. One may also note here the characteristics of the audience Allaah ordered Musa (alayhis salaam) to go to Firawn because he had "transgressed all bounds," and at the same time specified a way of dealing with this ruler: "But speak to him mildly; perchance he may take warning or fear (Allah)." (Q20[Ta Ha]:44) The lesson here is that both the content of our communication and its medium, i.e. the manner of its delivery, should fit the receiver of the message. Further, sometimes the right way to deal with a harsh and unrepentant receiver is not in a like manner but in quite the opposite manner, speaking to him "mildly" as in this case. The essence of communication is getting a message across, not getting even.

4: Working as a Team: Musa (alayhis salaam) also understood the need of teamwork. He recognized that he needed to complement his own abilities in order to succeed: "And give me a Minister from my family, Harun, my brother;" (Q20[Ta Ha]:29-30) It is typically that people who are unsure of themselves often recruit such team mates who are less qualified than themselves in order to avoid being challenged in areas of their own weaknesses. Effective leaders,however, are confident of themselves and focus their efforts on accomplishing the mission. Hence, they seek people who will complement them in areas where they perceive themselves to be weak or lacking. Musas (alayhis salaam) wished to recruit his brother as a team member in order to strengthen his own abilities and efforts, and to enhance his own skills: "Add to my strength through him," (Q20[Ta Ha]:31). For the team to be effective, Musa (alayhis salaam) expected his team mate to participate in carrying out the task, and not be a mere by stander. "And make him share my task:" (Q20[Ta Ha]:32) The reason for this is, "And my brother Harun - he is more eloquent in speech than I: so send him with me as a helper, to confirm (and strengthen). me: For I fear they may accuse me of falsehood." (Q28[AI Qasas]:34). An effective team is characterized by teammates whose skills complement those of the leader as well as of other members of the team. Further, Musa (alayhis salaam) asserted that the purpose of forming a team was not merely to reduce one's workload, but to get help and strength from one another.

5: Mission Orientation: A team should have a mission towards which it directs all its efforts. The success of the team is dependent upon the clarity of that mission and upon the degree to which all members are committed to accomplishing it. Musa (alayhis salaam) clarified his teams mission: "That we may celebrate Your praise without stint, And remember You without stint: For You are He that ever regards us." (Q20[Ta Ha]:33-5). To them that mission encompassed the praise and remembrance of Allaah, for all action carried out to establish His Will would amount to His praise and remembrance. Praising Allaah and remembering Him establishthe moral bearing that crystallizes our mission and moves us to accomplish it.

6: Legitimacy of the Request: Allaah established the legitimacy of Musas (alayhis salaam) request and approach by granting what he had requested. (Allaah) says: "Granted is your prayer, O Musa" (Q20[Ta Ha]:36). The Quran also refers to the acceptance of Musas (alayhis salaam) request elsewhere: "(Before this), We sent Musa the Book, and appointed his brother Harun with him as Minister;" (Q25[AI Furqan]:35)

To be continued...

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

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