You would think that Muslims would have a better idea about what leadership means and what kind of leader they want to have, after all we have a rich history of great leaders arising from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself, to the four righteous Khalifs, even Muawiyah was a great leader and so many others including Muhammad al Fatih, Tariq bin Ziad, Sallehuddin Al-Ayubi and yet, we find ourselves being lead by not so 'great leaders' of today.
I think the main reason is because Muslims have completely lost their way in terms of their capacity to think and make judgment. We see things in flat dimensions, focusing on individual actions and personalities e.g. with the idea that an Islamic leader has to look 'Islamic' and have to be soft spoken, kind and yet, we fail to identify the shrewdness and political awareness of our great leaders in the past including our Prophet himself.
On the other hand, when it comes to political leaders, we place them upon a pedestal and feel the need to 'please' and follow without question despite their lack of sense and better judgment. The main culprit I think are those who have this infatuation with leadership positions. They are too blinded by power and prestige that they fail to realize that leadership is nothing but a responsibility. You find that when these same people whom might be struck 'lucky' to obtain that leadership position they so crave, they suddenly expect others to treat them with awe and they demand to be put upon a pedestal they way they put others upon a pedestal. Honestly, I think it is about time we put an end to ass-kisses.
I was brought up differently and I admired leaders who were themselves, before, after and when they were leaders. My Dean when I was at Medical school was Professor Adrian Eddleston, the Dean of King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry and he became the Dean of Guys, St Thomas, King's Hospital, Medical school. He was the most humble, cheerful and friendly man I have ever met. He used to sit with students in the cafeteria, asked us how we were doing and when we sat in his clinic, he would take the time to get to know us. The thing was I don't think he was faking it or doing it to gain popularity but that was just how he was. He was that type of person and most importantly, he was a good problem solver. To me, that is what makes a great leader, someone who takes responsibility and solves problems to achieve a common objective.
I have met so many humble, down to earth, just really good leaders in my working life and I know what kind of person I want to be. I am me, whether I am a leader, a mother, a wife, a daughter. I do believe however that we should give respect and take respect. We should respect everyone irrespective of their position and when I first got back to Malaysia, people said to me that I can't treat everyone the same, that Malaysia is different and that if I were to treat everyone the same then people would step all over me. They said to me that in Malaysia, leadership is hierarchal and I should not 'give face' to those under my position.
However, I refuse to be that kind of person and it wasn't because I was naïve or that I didn't believe them but I had a principle and to me, principle is everything. I hold on to the principle of Islam when the Prophet Muhammad said in his last sermon, he said many things but one of it was "All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action."
I believe in equality and justice. I believe that if you want to respect people, respect everyone and if you want to treat people like shit, then treat everyone like shit. We shouldn't discriminate. I believe that there is no superiority and I hate positions, titles, royalties and anything to do with seeing oneself more superior just because one is born into a particular family. (This doesn't mean that I hate the individuals who are in positions, have titles or royalties per se but I hate the concept and those who make such a big deal about it) I believe this because our Prophet Muhammad says so and he has the authority to say so. Therefore, I believe this with all of my heart and I hold on to it and I will not change my principle just because I am put in another environment. I will not change my belief just because now I am in Malaysia and it so happens that a FEW people in Malaysia choose to be idiots.
Yes, it is true that I had one or two individuals who did step over me but that is less than 1% out of all those who did not, who valued my principles and treated me with more respect because of my stand. As for that less than 1% who did not know how to reciprocate respect, in truth they choose to be idiots. I say they choose to be because it is a choice. You can be whatever type of person. God gave us all a mind to think and we can all elevate our own thinking but sometimes, people choose to entertain their psychological trauma, low self-esteem, perhaps jealousy or inadequate personality that betrays their better judgment.
In a way, I am disappointed because despite God presenting us with the best of example (uswatun hasanah) and yet, we choose not to follow the footstep of Prophet Muhammad and instead to have a 'jakun' mentality when it comes to leadership.