Joining a Dawah Organization: Level 2 – Permission/Relationship
This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Joining a Dawah Organization: Leadership Levels

The first post in this series discussed joining into an organization at the ground level and doing the duties assigned to you. Level 2 is, “getting people to work for you when they are not obligated.” John Maxwell says that on this level, “time, energy, and focus are placed on the individual’s needs and desires.” Becoming a leader requires building strong interpersonal relationships. Consider this level the glue that can hold an organization together. Maxwell quotes one of his staff members as saying,

If level 1, Position, is the door to leadership, then level 2, Permission, is the foundation.

People who try to ascend the leadership ladder without properly mastering their relationships with others set themselves up for failure. It would not be far-fetched to say that the lack of strong relationships between community and organization members often contributes to the acceleration of groups falling apart due to personal politics.

Possess a genuine love for people.

While somewhat obvious, this is also a difficult point to internalize. If your love is not genuine, if your intentions are corrupt, then your actions and aspirations are built on a faulty foundation which will inevitably crumble. Building relationships, building brotherhood/sisterhood, requires a vested and loving interest on your part in someone else.

One of the trickiest parts of working on an organization made up of volunteers is that it is difficult to delegate tasks. There may be many situations where it is difficult to ask someone for help, or even if you do ask they will not be responsive. Strong relationships and strong bonds actually make it easier to help one another.

Often times people who crave leadership are stuck on level 1. This causes them to become territorial and then try to lead by intimidation. The love described here is the key facet that takes the leader to the next level.

Make those who work with you more successful.

This is a way to show your love for others while also increasing your level of leadership in the organization. To understand this, take the example of a masjid board. The Treasurer may approach the Vice President seeking assistance on some task. If the VP is still stuck on level one, then he or she will stick to their territorial job duties and not step out of those bounds. This can also plant the seed for a later conflict (major or minor).

If the VP is on level 2 however, then they will make sure to go out of their way to help the Treasurer in the best way possible. This would be done not just for the spiritual benefits of contributing to the masjid but also out of a love for the other person. It is not done to gain the upper hand over the other person in terms of having a favor owed later, but out of a genuine desire to see the Treasurer succeed at their position.

See through other people’s eyes.

Conflicts often start when one person cannot understand why another person acted in a certain way or made a particular decision. In order to transcend these conflicts and truly be a leader, you must allow yourself to see why a person acted in a certain way. Put yourself in their shoes and see what may have motivated them.

If they did act incorrectly, you are now in a better position to speak with them. You can preface your conversation with, “I understand you thought/felt …” and then proceed to, politely, explain why that course of action was incorrect. What ends up happening in many organizations is that people skip this level of understanding and let criticisms start flying. Those on the receiving end feel unjustly attacked, misunderstood, and will often times react negatively themselves. This then degenerates into a what is often termed, “nasty and complicated politics.”

Love people more than procedures.

There is a saying that the true scholar is not necessarily the one who knows all the rulings, but knows the exceptions to those rulings. The wise leader is the one who understand the true importance and worth of the individuals around him or her.

In the workplace, a company may not have any job openings, but when the right person comes along they will create an opening just for that person. This is because they know this person is worth whatever difficulty they face trying to bring them on their team. Rules and procedures must be followed, but sometimes when you come across a special and talented person, as a leader, you must know when to make exceptions for the greater benefit of the organization.

Include others in your journey.

Not everyone is interested in becoming a strong leader. As you progress through this journey, you will find a number of people wanting to be involved with your projects in some capacity. This is especially the case with Muslim organizations where everyone wants some share of the immense spiritual benefits of working with these organizations, but many times may not know how they can specifically help.

Including others in your journey means including others in the good work you are doing. One example that comes to mind from the corporate world is the case of someone who has perfected a particular skill that is of benefit to the company. Out of fear of becoming less valuable, or wanting to strengthen their own particular job security, a person may refuse to train anyone else on how to do a certain task. To put it another way, do not let yourself become the computer programmer who intentionally makes a bug that only he knows how to fix.

Deal wisely with difficult people.

One of the most common tests of working with any kind of Islamic organization is that you have to deal with difficult people. People will place higher expectations on you because you are working for the sake of the Hereafter. And because you are working for an organization that seeks to serve the religious betterment of people, you will find yourself being forced to deal with all different kinds of people and situations.

Some of the most difficult people you encounter may be within the organization itself. The true test is seeing if you are able to learn how to work with such people. As a leader, you must be able to find some kind of common ground. The way to do this is through the steps above – love them, see things from their perspective, and include them in your journey.

These are general guidelines for helping you have better relationships with those you work with. This is perhaps one of the toughest parts of becoming a leader, but without this foundation you will never be able to move forward. There are many common sense and religious teachings that should also be mentioned here but are left out for the sake of brevity. One characteristic, though, warrants special mention. A true leader must constantly forgive and pardon others. A part of your love for others, a part of your building a strong relationship with others, is not letting minor (and sometimes major) things get in the way of those relationships.

Level 3 will look at production and results.

Series Navigation<< Joining a Dawah Organization: Level 1 – Position/RightsJoining a Dawah Organization: Level 3 – Production/Results >>
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Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters, Qalam Institute, Muslim Strategic Initiative, and Debt Free Muslims. He is a regular khateeb and has served in different administrative capacities in various national and local Islamic organizations. He works full time in the corporate field, is a PMP, and certified Leadership Trainer through the John Maxwell Team. You can follow him on on Twitter @ibnabeeomar, and check out his latest project - The Fiqh of Social Media.

Omar UsmanJoining a Dawah Organization: Level 2 – Permission/Relationship

One Comment on ““Joining a Dawah Organization: Level 2 – Permission/Relationship”

  1. Muslim Strat Init

    Harvard Business Review sent out this management tip on their email list:

    “Workers report higher rates of disengagement at work than ever before. Coworkers who work in different countries, locations, or even in the same building can go weeks without face-to-face contact. And the recession has created an environment of fear, anxiety, and mistrust. Positive work relationships have been shown to increase productivity, engagement, and commitment. Create meaningful relationships at work so that you look forward to joining your colleagues every day. Small talk may be annoying, but it lays the foundation for connection. Reach out to coworkers: ask them questions about their lives. Be appreciative of everyone from the maintenance worker to the receptionist. Most importantly, be genuine in these interactions. If you’re fully present, these relationships will pay off.”

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