Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Leadership Lesson from Al Qaeda

I have always thought that we can learn a lot about leadership from those with whom we fight and struggle. So today, I would like you to consider a leadership lesson from the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ).

The EIJ’s original objective was to overthrow the Egypt government and turn the country into an Islamic state. However, the EIJ fell on hard times after a number of it leaders were either imprisoned, killed or forced into exile.

To gain a new footing, the EIJ shifted its focus from the near enemy, Egypt to the far enemy, the US and other Western countries. This switch allowed the EIJ to align itself with another terrorist group, Al Qaeda. This was a good alignment because it allowed Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda to trade an infusion of cash in exchange for EIJ operational experience.

Here is the leadership lesson.  A lesson that sits at the heart of all leadership dilemmas.

In return for financial support, Ayman al-Zawahiri provided Al Qaeda with about 200 loyal, disciplined and well-trained followers, who became the core of Al Qaeda’s leadership.

Read that again… What ultimately became the core of the most successful terrorist group in the world was as set of loyal, disciplined, well-trained followers.

This says to me that developing followers who are loyal, disciplined and know the machine that makes up your business is infinitely more effective than focusing on the immeasurable activities of organizational cheerleading.

As a leader, there are three questions you must be able to answer.  How do you create loyalty within your organization?  How do find, instill and value the quality of self-discipline within your people.  How do you develop well-trained followers who know your machine and possess the capacity to become the core of your organization’s leadership?

More importantly, do you possess the loyalty, discipline and knowledge as a follower that enables you to take on the responsibilities of leadership?

What are your thoughts?

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Take care and enjoy...