The Quran and the Modern Manager
By Gracious Creation
Allaah (swt) has made some people better in work than others. He has raised them to positions of power out of His mercy.
[043:032]..We raised some of them above others in ranks, so that some may employ others in their work…
But being in a position of power and authority is also a huge responsibility and a trial for the person.
The Righteous Khulafaah like Abu Bakr(rah), Umar(rah) understood this and many examples can be taken from their lives about how they performed in their office and took care of the people under them. For them always the Quran and the Sunnah took precedence, and then the consensus of the scholars.
But in today’s corporate world, where many of the Muslims are working in executive positions, how many actually follow the Quran and the Sunnah in their day to day decision making?
If there are some executives out there who feel they are in the category above, maybe the following points from the Quran on management would change their mind and enable them to use the Quran more often in your offices, inshaAllah:
- Obedience and Respect for Authority: Allaah (swt) orders us in the Quran to follow the Prophet and the people who are in authority among us:
[004:059] O you who believe! Obey Allâh and obey the Messenger (Muhammad [sal-Allâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam]), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority….
If a believer has this aayat in mind when he or she goes to work everyday, then how high would the level of obedience be? Obedience and respect for authority is the basic requisite for getting work done by someone. If your subordinates below you are not delivering the work, see if there are any shortcomings from your side because this may lead them to perceive that you hold less authority over them.
Working and consulting as a team: When was the last time you involved your subordinates and team members in making a decision on a project? If you have not, is it because you feel that you know more than the people around you? Seeking advice from the people around you would be one of the best things you can do when faced with a dilemma. Umar (rah) himself had a council of the Sahabaah with him who he consulted (Shura) for decisions. As Allaah swt states:
[003:159] …so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allâh’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allâh, certainly, Allâh loves those who put their trust (in Him).
Providing Equal Opportunities: Providing Equal Opportunities: Islam is not a religion just for one race or one kind of people. It is a religion for the whole mankind. Allaah (swt) says:
[049:013] O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allâh is that (believer) who has At-Taqwâ [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqûn (the pious)]. Verily, Allâh is All-Knowing, Well-Acquainted (with all things).
The only thing that differentiates people is their righteousness! Subhanallah! If this policy alone is implemented in the workplace, then every person would have the same equal opportunities and only based on his or her hard work and effort would a person go ahead.
Motivation and Commitment: Since you are a manager or lead a team, you must know motivating the people under under you to achieve goals is a huge task and one which is not done efficiently. Corporate trainings are conducted regularly for instilling motivation in the employees. And after the short burst of motivation, the employee has to be given a training once more. Allaah (swt) says to the Prophet:
[003:159] And by the Mercy of Allâh, you (Muhammad [sal-Allâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam]) dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allâh’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allâh, certainly, Allâh loves those who put their trust (in Him).
The best way to motivate people is in the way you deal with them. Even the Prophet is being commanded to deal with the people under him gently, then how much more so for us? Apart from being gentle with your team members another important aspect is looking over their faults. Taking some small problem and blowing it out of proportion is becoming the norm. Being harsh over the people is not the answer to achieving common goals and if everyone has to survive, there has to be leniency from the part of the one who is in authority. Remember, you grow if your team grows.
Less Wastage of resources: Bad planning which leads to wastage of physical and human resources is one of the banes of the corporate world today. Offices have numerous standards and work flows which streamline usage of resources and try to make us utilize them effectively. But perhaps something much more is required to motivate the people in using the resources allocated to them efficiently:
[017:026] And give to the kinsman his due and to the Miskîn (needy) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. [Tafsir At-Tabarî (Verse 9:60)]
[017:027] Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayâtîn (devils), and the Shaitân (Devil-Satan) is ever ungrateful to his Lord.
The above aayats, although mentioning about money, also come into use for physical and human resources. Both cost money and a huge amount of effort goes into building them up for use. This makes more sense with the point mentioned below.
Overworking the people: A manager should know that different people have different capacities towards work. If one is able to slog it out for 12 hours a day, there maybe others who can barely make it to the 8 hour mark. Managers have become notorious to burdening the employees with tasks beyond their capabilities. Allaah (swt) says regarding this:
[002.232]..No person shall have a burden laid on him greater than he can bear…
Balancing out the workload onto different employees based on their skill set and capacity will ensure that none of them are over-burdened and everyone works towards achieving their common goal.]
Fulfilling contracts and promises: Today it is a norm for companies to over promise a customer and deliver under pressure. Everyone suffers because of this, from the employee to the manager. And if the deadline is not met [there is a reason it is called a DEADLINE ], the customer either fines or sues the company. Committing to a deal without knowing the actual effort and time it will take is detrimental to the working atmosphere of a company. It eats into the work spirit around the company and forces people into believing that there is nothing other than work in life. To run a successful company and to always have a motivated team around you, one must not make promises that cannot be kept.
[061:002] O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do?
[061:003] Most hateful it is with Allâh that you say that which you do not do.
Whether you are a manager with a team under you or a senior executive managing different departments, keep the above points in mind the next time you manage the people around you. Even if you are an employee, most of the points above are relevant for you in terms of boosting your morale at your workplace.
But above all this, have trust in Allaah (swt) in all the decision you make. Make fervent du’a to Him. Make Istikharah whenever you have to make a decision, even if it be as small as selecting the right candidate for the job.
May Allah (swt) enable all people in authority and senior positions to carry out their tasks on the lines of the Quran and the Sunnah.