21st century needs servant leaders.

By Faisal Tahir Khan
It is the need of the hour that we all self-reflect and see where we are heading as a human civilization, what problems we face and how to resolve them, and more importantly what type of leadership qualities we anticipate leaders of the 21st century should possess to take us all into a better future. Today, the world is facing several challenges and complex issues that need to be addressed and handled by capable leaders who can comprehend the problems, visualize the solutions and at the same time build great institutions and teams to give innovative and sustainable solutions and make a difference in their societies and communities.

There is a great demand to build those leaders who have entrepreneurial and leadership qualities who can uplift societies and build great institutions to carry forward our societies and communities to a better 21st century for all. Such leaders have issues to solve such as poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, acute diseases, regional conflicts, extremism, climate change, food security, reforming capitalism, inter-faith harmony and in a nutshell leading the world in achieving sustainable development goals. These are just tip of an iceberg in terms of issues.

21st Century demand leaders and entrepreneurs both in the public sector and private sector who have various skillset from leadership, management, in-depth knowledge of history, politics, emerging technologies, international relations, macro and microeconomics, development economics, business development, global cultures and costumes, communication, presentation skills, writing skills, analytical skills and so forth.

In last few centuries, the world has seen different types of leadership from peacetime leaders, wartime leaders, development leaders, religious leaders, social leaders, business leaders and so forth. If one examines different societies, we can clearly see those societies where leaders who rose to the leadership positions through meritocracy, competency and a process of evolution have progressed well than those societies where nepotism or other forms of selection was practised.

But the most effective and efficient way of leadership that has been advocated by all religions and have a deeper impact and influence on societies is servant leadership. The only solution to address the complex issues of the 21st Century is to develop servant leadership across the board. As servant leaders want to serve first and lead second and it is not about them but it’s about the people whom they want to serve.

Servant leaders have a legacy and a deeper impact on societies as the core of their leadership philosophy is to bring positive change and make a difference in areas of their influence. Servant leaders are universal in their approach, their leadership principles are based on love and respect for all rather than fear and authority. Servant leaders’ primary goal is to empower others, build societies with a trickledown effect and not accumulate wealth and power.

Servant leaders are caring, loving, kind, empathetic, compassionate, good listeners, committed to the growth of people, have high integrity, build great teams, humble, resolve conflicts, they do not abuse authority, result oriented, collaborative, resilient and they are visionary people.

Human history has seen many leaders in form of democratic leaders, monarchs, dictators, generals, CEOs, and chairman of companies and organizations. We must examine their impact on the societies they worked for, as in traditional leadership or Machiavellian style of leadership only a few people or inner circle of leaders such as family, friends & loyalists accumulate power and wealth at the expense of the larger society that at the end weakens and deplete the society they want to serve.

The best example of servant leadership is Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, who has been the greatest leader of all times. He had all qualities of servant leadership and one can witness his positive impact and legacy even after 1400 years. His leadership qualities transformed societies and he touched the lives of people of all races, religions, and backgrounds.

He was a great leader, general, preacher, father, brother and who spread love, and great human values and told his companions to follow in his footsteps. To understand what servant leadership is all about we must also study the life of Caliph Abu Bakr (RA), Caliph Omar Bin Khatab (RA), Caliph Othman Bin Afan (RA), Caliph Ali Ibn Abi Talib (RA) and Caliph Omar Bin Abdul Aziz(RA).

In nutshell, a servant leader is a good human being who thinks about others first and he is well respected and admired through his great characteristics and values. We all must work together for capacity building to have more servant leaders in our societies who will be selfless, visionary, and competent to lead us all in the 21st century.

Faisal Tahir Khan is an entrepreneur and strategy consultant. He can be reached at think.fikr@gmail.com
Posted by Syed Mussarat Khalil.