Leadership and its Role in Modelling the Nations

Introduction to Leadership

Since the agricultural revolution some 12000 years ago, humans learned to cooperate and coexist to successfully repel foreign aggression and natural calamities such as floods, famines, or earthquakes. The coexistence required superior management and unusual motivation to inspire people to develop an inclusive attitude and sacrifice for common good. This integrating management and inspirational ideologies required some dedicated individuals who could manage the public affairs and motivate the individuals to actively contribute to society building. These dedicated individuals who led the societies were called leaders, they often had varying degrees of roles, some of them managed political affairs, some had economic expertise, and some could effectively manage public affairs. These leaders were supposed to uplift public morals and manage and lead their people as meritoriously as possible. There were supposed to have a higher vision, good governing capabilities, extraordinary communication skills, and unusual charisma. The primitive form of leadership in agrarian societies was mainly concerned with the defense and routine management but over time, the role of leadership was diversified and developed into an advanced discipline that required the up-to-date skills necessary to cope with the modern challenges.

Why Do We Need Leadership?

brown game pieces on white surface

What do the leaders do? Why do we need them? Are they central to our social life or the leadership is just a historical constructed reality? If we carefully examine the rise and fall of empires, development of state system, political and commercial revolutions, and clashes between principalities, kingdoms, empires, and states, then we would notice that these volatile and non-volatile situations needed active leadership. Leaders are the subject of historical and political analysis of past events, furthermore, they are the catalyzing force behind a historical, political, and economic struggle that is the main crux of mainstream history. Leaders are the extraordinary individuals who have the potential and courage to manage public affairs, who lead people through thick and thin, who channelize their energies and lead them to a particular vision. Leaders inspire people through their energy and charisma and organize them to achieve a particular political, social, or economic goal. But why do we these extraordinary individuals? Historical analysis reveals that personal small tasks are easy to manage and require no superior collaboration, for example, plowing and watering crops traditionally required little management, because they could be managed by the personal effort of a household. While exporting the surplus wheat production to a neighboring county required extraordinary collaboration and superior management because a farmer with a limited wheat surplus would not be able to leave his household and travel across the border to sell his surplus production. So, they needed markets to sell their surplus and then these markets enabled merchandizers to travel across borders under the protection of a political regime because looting was an accepted norm in the ancient societies so defensive protection was required for the caravans that needed another level of organization. The might was right in ancient societies, so the foreign invasions to grab as many natural resources as possible was another bitter reality of the primitive era. Tribes with superior military organization, weaponry, and invading force used to crush neighboring tribes and enslaved them and forced them to work for their own wellbeing. This created a slave economy. The political and military organization was a much-needed requirement that gave birth to early city-states that channelized their political and defensive force because the cost of subjugation was the permanent enslavement and humiliation. So, this whole organization required dedicated individuals who could communicate better and convince people to contribute positively, who must have superior management skills, who should be selfless, who should have the sacrificial spirit, and who should have the courage to face and defeat the enemies. The whole structural organization and framework of these primitive societies required leadership that was supposed to fulfill diverse tasks.

Historical Developments and Diversified Role of Leadership

woman in blue and brown dress holding a stick

The invention of the wheel, development of superior weaponry, and the emergence of religious and mythological ideologies enabled social and cultural development, which transformed city-states into early kingdoms and empires that developed in ancient Mesopotamia, Indus Valley, China, and Egypt. These newly developed kingdoms and empires extended and diversified leadership roles, for example, a new form of leadership invented political and religious stories to accumulate public support and cement public relations. The leader started appearing as a fatherly figure who was supposed to harness support and successfully lead his nation in the time of peace and war. In the Egyptian Old Kingdom and the parallel Sumerian Empire, political and religious roles combined in emperor and king. The Egyptian kings and Sumerian emperors prudently harnessed religious support and portrayed themselves as divinely favored. The religious and political dogmas were fabricated to cement the state structure that helped the leaders to easily manipulate their public for a particular task, for example, Egyptian people were inspired to tirelessly build colossal pyramidal structures without any monetary benefits during the flood season. The cult continued through Hellenistic expansion; Alexander particularly aspired to portray himself as a divine ruler who was mandated to rule the entire world. His successors used the same technique and subsequent Indian rulers such as Chandra Gupta and Ashok were particularly inspired by Greek divine political theory. This tradition continued in the Roman and Byzantine Empire; Persians also shrewdly utilized the divine political theory. After the advent of Islam in the 7th century, the Arabian Peninsula, and astronomical expansion into the Persian territories in the east and Byzantine territories in the west, the age of faith started that inspired religious wars all over the globe. Muslim rulers in the east, Caliphs and Sultans, justified their rule using the same divine political theory while the Christendom justified the papal rule and crusader incursions in the west. The medieval leadership was characterized by the warrior-leader king figure such as Charlemagne, Richard the Lion Heart, Saladin, and Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

Modern Leadership Inherits Medieval Characteristics

man with steel and chainmail armor holding sword

After the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648, the Peace of Westphalia established the new nation-state system that separated the political and religious realm, and secularism was accepted as a predominant political doctrine. The subsequent imperial conquests and resultant wars in Europe, Africa, and Americas required Machiavellian shrewdness that favored secular ruthless politician realism that was primarily advocated by Niccolo Machiavelli, a 16th-century political theorist and Florentine diplomate. Under the guise of realist political doctrine, Europe thoroughly indulged in the war for political maneuvering and territorial gains. The 18th and 19th century was characterized by political violence instigated by European powers that justified inhuman brutalities based on realist self-help. The beginning of the 20th century was thought to be the dawn of a new era but long practiced mature realism was something to influence this new era. In the second half of the 19th century, Germany and Italy were reunified that increased the number of political players in Europe. The weapon-race that was inspired by imperial gains and increased defense budget resulted in a full-scale world war in July 1914 that was instigated by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austrian Empire. Wilhelm Kaiser of Germany, Woodrow Wilson of America, Lloyd George of Britain, and Nicholas of Russia were the prominent leaders during the First Great War. The brutal consequence of the war and resultant changed demographics paved the way for another global conflict that was refueled by Nazi leadership in Germany. The appeasement policy failed and subsequent German-Russian agreement enabled Germany and Russia to reoccupy Poland that was carved out of German and Russian territories by Allies powers at the end world war I. This invasion of Poland in September 1939, instigated the deadliest war of human history. The post-war policies were again realist in nature because Wilsonian liberalism had already failed between the two great wars. Franklin Roosevelt, Hitler, Mussolini, Churchill, Stalin, Hideki Tojo, and Charles de Gaulle were the prominent global leaders during the second Great War. The cold war situation also demanded ruthless leadership that prevailed for thirty years. Harry Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ronald Reagan were prominent American leaders during the Cold War while the USSR had Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Mikhail Gorbachev, furthermore, Mao was Chinese major figure of the Cold War. The East European Revolutions of the 1980s and the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1991 instigated the final demise and Dissolution of the USSR on December 26, 1991. The end of the Cold War was the establishment of a New World Order, the post-Cold War era was also characterized by several political violent conflicts, for example, the Yugoslavian civil war, Gulf wars, and invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attack. So, we conclude that the post-Roman Empire history was characterized by the political conflict that glorified the hawkish leadership throughout history, so our history, political studies, social studies are adorned with high regard for hawkish and violent leaders and we have almost forgotten to honor leaders who could lead us to peace and prosperity. Our primitive mindset to praise the warrior-leaders has not changed much over time and so we don’t value the leaders who advocate peace and vision of global harmony.

Why West Love Secular Leadership?

close-up photography of man wearing cape and crown statue during daytime

We need to deeply understand the importance of true leadership. Humans cannot survive without true leadership. To start, you are the leader of your life’s journey and you are a family leader if you are married. And when it comes to public leadership, its importance should be equal to our family leadership. In the above paragraph, we have stressed that a leader should follow the divine rules and should utilize the divine leadership to lead the people. It is something strange for western secular society which has an extended history of secular governance and which has a particular prejudice against everything religious. Why does the west have this particular attitude, why western intelligentsia and mainstream prefer secular governance over divinely guided leadership? The answer to this question lies in history. After the officiation of Christianity under Byzantine Emperor Constantine, the Great in 312 AD and the subsequent formalization through the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD placed Nicaean Creed at the heart of the Roman structure. Emperor Theodosius I in 380 AD declared Christianity the state religion of the Byzantine Empire which not only facilitated the development of formal hierarchy in Rome but also rigidized that hierarchy. Within the next few centuries, the pope became the center of attention in the Christendom. He was the key political player who had the formal power to appoint and dismiss the emperors, for example, Pope Leo III appointed Charlemagne the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. There is another interesting historical account of papal authority and political intervention that may best express our point. Henry IV was the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire who dared to differ from Pope Gregory VII on the issue of appointing new bishops, Pope Gregory was enraged by the act. Pope Gregory was a shrewd politician who truly believed that the church had the divine mandate and all princes, kings, and emperors were by law under the church. So, using several so-called religious tactics, he increased papal power and extended his political authority. He excommunicated Henry and freed barons of the empire from their wows to the emperor. Fearing the revolt, Henry was forced to beg for the papal pardon. In the harsh winter of 1077, he traveled a long distance through extremely dangerous snowy mountains. They met in a small town of Canossa where Henry was deliberately humiliated and was forced to wait for three days in harsh snowfall. Contemporary eye witness accounts described that when at last Henry was granted the permission, he walked barefooted through the snow and knelt at the feet of Pope Gregory. Finally, his excommunication was revoked. Pope Urban II was the instrumental figure who instigated the crusades that continued for two hundred years. These episodes describe the papal political power used to manipulate and maneuver the political situations, moreover, their humiliating attitude further alienated the political mainstream of Europe. After the end of the Thirty Years War, the Peace of Westphalia was signed in 1648 AD which separated political and religious realms that were followed by a long uninterrupted tradition. The American and French Revolutions further reinforced the secular system. But we see that secular tradition is the bloody tradition but one might say the religious and divine rule was equally bloody then we to revert to such rule. The answer is, we are not suggesting to revert to such political structure such as divine political theory or papal rule.

Who should Lead Us?

man holding incandescent bulbThe highest rank of leadership ever known to humanity is the creator, the almighty Lord, the God of the Worlds! One whom all of all worlds bow down to him. Besides, it’s important to understand that the Lord creator is the supreme leader, but it’s more and extremely crucial to understand that he is the only One and Leader when it comes to creation, the divine power in his hands to give life to anything he wants and the power to take it back anytime he wishes to. So, with this in mind, the concept of a unique leadership by itself to a specific duty is very important to understand. The Lord did not only assign himself the task of creation at all levels, rather, he also provided the sustenance for all lives across all worlds combined! Some might not believe specifically in God and you might call it by other names based on your language, but we can agree on how important and needed divine leadership.

It is evident from grains of sand to the organization of the universe, from the process of creation to the climax of death that there lies a hidden pattern, it is evident that some divine organization rules the universe. The same is true about social organization, some divine rules, for example, truth and honesty are accepted as principle universal norms across the cultures throughout history, inciting violence against innocents are discouraged, and confiscating someone’s property has been a crime. These are universally accepted norms but these are useless until a strong sense of accountability is absent that comes with the concept of life after death and subsequent accountability in front of God on the Day of Judgement. Suppose if a leader truly believes that he is given the sacred responsibility to lead his people, and he would be held responsible for his corruption and malpractices on the Day of Judgement that is guaranteed to come, then his life attitude and his governing policies would be different. He would believe that deliberately confiscating the rights of the poor is a crime and he would surely be held accountable for that corruption then it would be less desirable action.

So, after having a continues historical chain of violence loving leaders, who apparently did not believe in universal rules that prevail the social order, we are now left with only option to try something new, to invent some novel leadership that may lead us to peace, mutual coexistence, and prosperity and we believe that a God-loving leadership who truly believe divine rules and have genuine faith in life-after-death accountability can achieve this utopian goal. Traditional Machiavellian leadership style should be rejected at once and it should be replaced by Godly leadership that may help us to cater to the challenges of the modern world that need global consensus for their resolution. We believe that only God-fearing leadership who should be committed to resolving these critical issues can succeed against such colossal global challenges.

Prepared by:

  • Imad Naaman Daou
  • Awais Ahmed Azad
    • Sr. Lecturer School of Art, Design, and Architecture – University of Gujrat, Pakistan