Management Theories from IslamSaad Sarwar Muhammad08/20/2009The management theories of Islam as espoused and practiced by the pioneers of Islam, might becenturies old but they still hold to this day as some of the best ways of managing and leading.Management Theory YThe concept of theory Y managers is demonstrated by the Holy Prophet Muhammad‘s (peace beupon him) personal way of leading and managing the affairs of the Muslim Ummah(community). Many early Muslims of the time used to come to the Holy Prophet (PBUH)themselves to ask for any service they could render to the newly born Muslim community. Neverwas force ever used to accomplish any task, rather it was based on volunteer service to the cause.Even at the times of the battles against the pagans of Mecca, many Muslims would come forwardto render their services, even young teenagers. And the Holy Prophet (PBUH) would refuse theirplea on the premise of them being too young for such a task.Flat and Lean OrganizationThe Holy Prophet (PBUH) used the concept of a flat and lean organization and was easilyaccessible to the Muslim society of the time who would come with a lot of issues and affairs tobe resolved by the Prophet (PBUH). The Prophet(PBUH) would always lead from the front andnever shied away from doing his personal chores like cooking, stitching and cleaning or helpingothers despite being the leader of the Muslims.Participative Style of Management Based on Consultations and BrainstormingThe Prophet (PBUH) used a consultative form of decision making, in which he would listen tothe ideas of others and only then a decision would be taken. Brainstorming was extensively usedand encouraged. Furthermore, there was no discrimination on the basis of race, creed or color.During one of the battles, the battle of Khandaq where the Muslim army faced a much bigger foeof ten thousand Meccans, a brainstorming session was held on how to ward off the pagans ofMecca. Many ideas were entertained, but the idea that was implemented came from SalmanFarsi, a Persian by ethnicity, who had come all the way to Arabia searching for the True Prophet.He gave the idea of digging a big ditch around the entire city, called the ―Khandaq‖, which wasmany meters wide and deep. The Khandaq would make it very hard for the invading army toenter the city, as was the norm for battles in Persia. Even at the time of digging the Khandaq, anarduous task, the Prophet led from the front and performed his due share in excavating it. It isalso reported that there was a very hard rock at one place of the Khandaq which the companionsof the Prophet were having difficulty breaking. The Holy Prophet(PBUH) helped by strikingsuch a hit on the rock that it broke apart.Conflict Resolution
During the early days of the Prophet‘s (PBUH) life before attaining prophet-hood, a conflictarose amongst the four main tribes of Mecca during the building of the Kaaba. The sacred blackstone was the center of the conflict when each tribe wanted the honor of placing the stone in theKaaba. After much debate and argument, it was decided that the first man to enter the gate thefollowing morning would decide who would have the honor of placing the stone. It so happenedthat the Prophet (PBUH) was the first person who entered the gate and the Meccans were jubilantto see the ―trustworthy‖ as he was known in Mecca, have the honor of deciding. It was decidedby the Prophet(PBUH), that the stone would be placed on a cloak, held by the chiefs of the fourtribes and taken to the Kaaba. When they reached the place, the Holy Prophet(PBUH) placed thestone himself in the eastern wall of the Kaaba.The Holy Prophet(PBUH) was blessed with a high degree of patience and mercy from GodAlmighty. After attaining prophethood, many people of Mecca became enemies of the HolyProphet(PBUH). One such person was an old lady who would wait for the Prophet(PBUH) topass by her house and put rubbish on him with regularity. The Prophet(PBUH) would not showany anger or annoyance at the lady. One day it so happened that the Holy Prophet(PBUH) waspassing by the house and he could not see the lady at the usual place. He became worried andasked her neighbor about her wellbeing. The neighbor said that the lady had become sick. TheHoly Prophet (PBUH) sought permission to enter her house and instead of taking revenge as theold lady thought, he took care of her needs. Seeing such care and kindheartedness, the old ladyembraced Islam.The conquest of Mecca, is an amazing feat of Islamic history. The bloodless campaign saw theProphet (PBUH) triumphant and humble in the face of victory. The victory also brought aboutthe conversion of Abu Sufyan, one of the bitter enemies of the Prophet (PBUH). The Prophet(PBUH) declared a general amnesty for the people of Mecca and stated,"Who enters the house of Abu Sufyan will be safe, who lays down arms will be safe, who lockshis door will be safe". (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 3, p. 977).Criteria for PromotionThe criteria for promotions was based strictly on merit, ability and talent, rather than that of onebased solely on age. Khalid Bin Walid was selected on many occasions to lead the Muslim armybased on his strategic abilities, military prowess and skills on the battle field. He was a force toreckon with. He participated in so many battles with a dream of embracing martyrdom, but thatwas not to happen by the will of God Almighty. Much of his body was covered with scars fromthe battle field but death on the field was not to be his. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) on oneoccasion preferred a very young Muslim called Usama for leading the entire Muslim army.Usama led the army in which there were many valiant and well known companions of theProphet who were older to him, but the role to lead the army was given to the young Usama.Much later in the early Muslim era in 711 AD, a seventeen year old man Muhammad Bin Qasimwas selected by the Muslim Caliph to run the campaign against the pirates of Debal and free themuslim captives held there. Muhammad Bin Qasim ended up spreading message of Islam inwhat is known as the present day Pakistan and people freely embraced the religion, who wereoppressed by a tyrannical cast system that had been a plague to the Hindu society of that time.
Management by Walking Around―Management by Walking Around‖ is another concept that was practiced by the early Caliphs ofIslam, especially, the second Caliph Umar. He used to roam around the city as an ordinarycitizen of the Muslim state and addressed the issues of the general populace. He had an acutesense of responsibility and he once stated that even if an animal dies in the state under his watch,he would be held responsible.The concept of equality was one of the overarching principles of the Muslim state. Regularprayers would be held in the mosque where there would be no distinction between the rich andthe poor or any other preference and all Muslims would stand shoulder to shoulder to each other,which still happens to this day. Servants would eat the same food as their masters and would betreated with respect. Once upon a time the Caliph Umar was travelling to Jerusalem after hisarmies under the command of his generals had conquered the city. The Caliph left Medina withone attendant and a camel. The Caliph and his attendant took equal turns sitting on the camel topass the journey. It just so happened that at the time the Caliph was entering Jerusalem, theattendant of the Caliph Umar was riding the camel. The Bishop who came to receive the CaliphUmar mistook the attendant as the Caliph and was very surprised when the Caliph turned out tobe the one walking by the side of the camel. On another occasion, the Caliph Umar helped buildthe mosque in Jerusalem with his own hands. This mosque is known as Umar‘s mosque. Despitebeing the leader of one of the greatest nations of the world at the time, the Caliph Umar BinKhattab kept a very low profile, where he could be easily confused with ordinary people.Decentralization of Authority and TrustDecentralization of authority was another principle of management that was practiced by theearly Caliphs. When the Muslim state spread far and wide from Persia to Egypt and beyond, itbecame very necessary to appoint Governors to different provinces. On one occasion, the Caliphappointed a young governor to a province who had recently gotten married. The Caliph gave hima big some of many thousands of dinars as a marriage gift and told him to assume command in aprovince of the Muslim state. The newly appointed governor instead of spending the money onhis own self, spent the entire money on the people of the province. Such was the level of trustand art of management professed by the early Muslim leaders.Dress Code for WorkThe dress code for work was any dress that was neat and clean and would cover the body in adecent manner. Nothing was too strict at the time like it is today in many corporations anddeveloping countries as far as the dress code is concerned.Equality and Fairness and Respect for Humanity (Individual)Standard procedures and rules were laid down to encourage fairness in the affairs of the state.Everybody was treated equitably and with fairness. Business and trading was encouraged with
far off lands. The concept of theory X style of management was shunned upon and nothing wasdone through force rather through reason. Tax money was spent on the poor, so much so that atone time it was hard to find anybody who was poor and deserving of the government tax money.The wealth of the overall community had improved so much.Respect for each and every human being was practiced across the board. It was discouraged toeven stand up for a person of authority or anybody for that matter. Equal treatment for all wasencouraged.ConclusionMany sound management practices in the contemporary world owe their beginnings to the earlyMuslim managers who used the most humane and cutting edge techniques of management inthose times and brought the light of knowledge to the human world. It is about time to relivethose times and do away with the archaic bureaucratic practices of management that the Britishhave endowed to the lands they have ruled. It is also imperative that people in the Muslim worldadopt these golden principles of management of the fore and do away with unnecessary dresscodes, excessive respect to authority so much so to degrade one‘s self and the dignity ofhumanity, fairness and standard code of conduct, the concept of humility, promotions based onmerit as the sole criteria rather than age or any other thing for that matter. Only in this way canthe humanity of today even dream of coming closer to the peaceful and prosperous Muslimsociety of the old times.For commenting on this article please join Economistan by clicking on the link at the right sideof the top banner. Thanks.http://books.google.com.my/books?id=y_7wNz07FeEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=islamic+management+theory&hl=en&sa=X&ei=9aUbUc6fFoHprAekmICoCg&ved=0CEoQ6AEwBA
manager?Successful managers are able to apply a combination of supervisory and technical skills to thedirection and eventual conclusion of complex projects. This invariably demands that they areable to able to work well within teams and have the strength of character to lead a team or groupof engineers who may come from a range of different disciplines.For instance, a manager could typically find themselves managing a team of mechanical,electrical and systems engineers within the defence sector. To do this effectively requires all-round project management skills.And the success or failure of a project will largely rest upon the manager‘s knowledge andunderstanding of how various disciplines operate separately, and together.Managing a diverse team can be challenging and one of the attributes that a good manager mustpossess is the ability to communicate the objective of the project to their team.Given the complex nature of the industry, managers need to provide clear and conciseinstructions to ensure that all team members are working towards the same goal with the aim ofcompleting it on time and within budget.You need to be aware that not every type of person absorbs information in the same way - somelike to see graphs, facts and figures, some need to hear concepts and creative options. It‘s up to
you to decide what information to give to which people so they can understand the requiredactions and work together to reach an end goal.All companies aim to keep costs to a minimum and managers are charged with the responsibilityfor maximising the use of resources – personnel, goods and services – required to meet theexpected outcome of a project. An understanding of the business needs of the organisation andrecognition of the role you play within it are prerequisites.Managers will often find themselves overseeing more than one project at the same time – eachwith its own demands and requirements. Therefore, an ability to keep your cool when the goinggets tough, manage your time effectively and prioritise tasks will stand you in good stead as amanager.So if you are looking to move into a management role for the first time and are unfamiliar withwhat some of your colleagues do in other areas of the business, or lack some of the basic skillsthat you will need, for example, then do some research into other areas of engineering and findout what training opportunities exists in your company.Remember, the more you know of what will be expected of you in your new role, the strongercandidate you become.Wondering what to do now? Check out our expert career advice, find out more about theEngineering industry or search for the latest Engineering jobs.Several studies asked whether Engineers make better Managers. I am a licensed and RegisteredElectrical Engineer, since 1989, and also a supervisor in a steel company. I also asked myself,not once but several times, this same question. Instead of just relying on my readings, I tried tovalidate what I read with field observations.First, there is a distinction between a leader and a manager. Hawley (2001) states the importanceof distinguishing between management and leadership.―A simple contrasting definition helps: ‗Managers do things right, leaders do the right thing‘. In otherwords, a leader knows what‘s best to do, while a manager knows how best to do it. . . . Some engineersmake excellent managers and never want to be leaders.‖Hawley then differentiated leaders of the past, today and in the future:―The style of leadership [in the past] was dictatorial and the leader had to be singleminded to succeed.Today‘s leaders are able to communicate worldwide without paper, and can have meetings with key staffacross the globe without leaving either their office or even their home. . . The leader [of the future] willmanage by consensus rather than by compromise, and use ‗situational leadership‘ to exploit the approachbest suited to his or her needs. . . need the ability to get on with the job, to spot and tackle potentialproblem areas before they arise, prioritise tasks, and set long-range and short-term objectives and monitorthem. Other strengths are the ability to communicate, honesty and integrity, innovation and vision, theability to inspire trust, the ability to motivate, a personal drive and sense of purpose, self confidence, andthe ability to make decisions.‖
Vallabhaneni (2002) asked: "Do great engineers make good managers?" Then wrote:―Many engineers who are experts in the field lack the skills and knowledge to negotiate, handle teams,and understand the principles behind the other very important functions in a company. To be a successfuland relevant manager, a great engineer must also be a good marketer, a handy accountant, a high-levelinterpreter of law, a prudent human resources practitioner and, at times, an international emissary. . . . Anengineer who is also a business generalist can be a more powerful and dynamic leader and manager.‖From my own field observations, I found that in a steel company, most managers here areengineers. A number of them have pursued higher management studies, thus more likely to applywhat they learned from these studies. Instead of being focused on the engineering side of thebusiness, however, managerial skills may have overshadowed their engineer persona, but once-in-a-while, the engineering skills—applied mathematics and physical sciences—are still there tobe reckoned with. Engineers‘ attention-to-details may at times be to a fault, but this trait caneither make or break the system. Most engineers possess sufficient technical knowledge thusmakes it easier to manage. Instead of just understanding the detail of each member‘s job toappreciate the role they play in a team, engineer-manager has the capacity to coach in on-the-jobtraining of team members; can dissect the job into its minute details, or task elements, and makeimprovements—time savings, safety, and cost-effective; and can plan, lead, organize, and controlthe tasks on hand. Most decisions made by engineer-managers are backed up with goodengineering theory, or if there are no available information they make do with ‗guestimates‘,which are still likely based on the soundness of their technical know-how and their own intuition.This is not a surprise to me and supports what I have come to believe after years of engineeringmanagement – being a great engineer does not necessarily prepare you for being a goodmanager. This is not to say that great engineers can‘t also be great managers, but the processmany companies use of taking their best engineers and ―promoting‖ them to management isflawed. In many cases, it leads to a company losing a great engineer and gaining an ineffective(or worse, harmful) manager. Many companies compound this problem by creating careerladders that effectively force engineers to choose between a career ceiling and a managementpath.There are many characteristics that I see in successful managers. First and foremost, goodmanagers have to always be working to ensure the success of the team and their individualreports. Success goes beyond just getting projects and tasks done – it also means helping theirindividual reports understand their strengths and opportunities for growth. It requires taking areal interest in where each person wants to go in their career and creating opportunities for themto reach their goals. Good managers need a lot of block and tackle type skills to unblock peopleand ensure they have an environment that helps them remain productive. Good managersencourage growth for their employees by giving direction when needed but empowering them totry (and sometimes fail) in the interest of helping them learn and improve. Of course, goodmanagers must also be proactive about confronting tough issues and addressing performanceproblems to maintain a high-quality team.Those characteristics are not necessarily the same characteristics necessary to be a greatengineer. It is not uncommon to see great engineers also be really great mentors and solveproblems (beyond just engineering) in creative ways, but it is not typically their focus. Also, the
way they work is typically different. Most managers have a tremendous amount of contextswitching during their day and need to make themselves available and interruptible to unblockothers – this can be highly detrimental to an engineer that typically pays a high cost for contextswitching and getting back into the flow.Another critical characteristic good managers is knowing how to get problems solved. This isvery different than knowing the solution to a problem. The manager adds value byunblocking their report, not by being smarter than their report. Many times I see very technicalemployees go to a much less technical manager with a technical problem. While the managermay not be able to solve the problem directly, they can usually identify the steps (and people)required to get a solution. This is where I see many organizations make mistakes when lookingfor managers – they assume that a manager can‘t manage engineers if she is less technical thatthe engineers in the organization. As an example of how this can manifest itself, at my companywe were looking for an additional engineering manager and the bar was set pretty high based onthe performance and 360 feedback of our existing manager – engineers thought he was great.The engineers interviewing the candidate used the exact same very technical questions we use toidentify great engineers. The candidate did not do well. In the wrap-up meeting I asked if theyhad ever needed their great manager to to answer these types of technical problems and theresponse was, ―no – we have really solid tech leads for that‖. We quickly adjusted theengineering manager candidate questions to stop looking for successful engineer skills andinstead identify manager skills that make other engineers successful.For most of my life I have had the privilege of working with some truly exceptionalprogrammers (far better than myself). It did not take long for me to realize that the value I couldcreate for each company as an engineer was much less significant than the value I could createby ensuring that other (better) engineers were effective and successful. However, somecompanies make management the only option for career progression, which encourages greatengineers that are passionate about coding to switch to a role for which they are less passionateand probably less capable (yes this is a generalization and I apologize to the truly amazingindividuals that are both deeply technical and exceptional managers). More companies shouldhave parallel career ladders that allow engineers to remain with their hands on the keyboard andheads in the code while obtaining a career level as high (or higher) than management positions.On a side note, one of the things I really liked about Project Oxygen is the approach of using datato analyze business processes. I find that many companies that are data driven and have a deepunderstanding of their customer metrics many times don‘t have the same understanding of howthey work and what make them (in)effective. We regularly collect data at my company and useit as an input to redefine how we work and constantly benefit from that evaluation.