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Think you're not ready to be a leader? These tips can help
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Think you're not ready to be a leader? These tips can help

Think you're not ready to be a leader? These tips can help
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“I don’t think I’m ready for an executive leadership role,” the 42-year-old client on the phone said with a sigh.

Have you ever been in a position where you've been asked to lead a team, an organization, or a company, and your instinctive reaction is that you’re not ready for it? If you have, this story from the Islamic tradition might help ease your distress: it is the story of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when he received the first revelation of the Quran.

On that powerful night in the mountains of Mecca, when the Prophet (PBUH) was alone in the cave of Hira, the angel Gabriel appeared before him and squeezed him three times till he could barely breathe. The angel then told him to recite the first verses of the Quran and revealed himself as the messenger of God.

Shocked, scared, and shivering, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) went to his home saying, “Cover me, cover me!” His wife Khadija (RA) comforted and listened to him, then she shared some powerful words of support reminding the Prophet (PBUH) that his was an excellent character and that nothing evil would befall him.

Khadija took him to her cousin Waraqa Bin Nawfal, who was a knowledgeable scholar. Muhammad (PBUH) told him what had happened, and Waraqa reassured him that he was indeed the messenger of God, but he would face difficulties from his people in the years ahead.

There are several lessons from this story for the newly appointed leader who is nervous about their new role:

  1. It’s OK to Feel Fear: The fact that you feel worried, concerned, and even distressed about your new role is a good sign! This type of stress is called eustress, or good stress, because it provides you with enough productive discomfort to grow and stretch yourself.
  1. You Need Family Support: The first person the Prophet (PBUH) turned to after the encounter in the mountains was his loving wife, Khadija. This is a powerful reminder of the role that family plays in supporting your growth. Talk to your family about your new role, what it means for you and them, and what support you need from them to be successful.
  1. Remember Your Strengths: Khadija (RA) reminded the Prophet (PBUH) of his character strengths and all the good qualities he needed to grow into this role. You were selected for the leadership position because someone or some people saw something in you that they believed made you right for it. You need to look in the mirror and remind yourself what those ingredients are.
  1. Seek Expert Advice: Meet people who understand what this role entails and ask for their advice, just as the Prophet (PBUH) and Khadijah (RA) sought the advice of Waraqa Bin Nawfal in Mecca.
  1. Get a Mentor: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was blessed with the angel Gabriel as a mentor to teach him the Quran and how to pray. Get a mentor for your role, perhaps even an executive coach. Let them give you the support you need as well as challenge you to grow into your new role.
  1. Get up and Pray: One of the first verses in the Quran that was revealed after the first encounter with Gabriel was “O you who wraps himself [in clothing], Arise [to pray]”. When you know that you’re in over your head with responsibilities, seek divine assistance, and let your spiritual self grow along with your profession.
  1. Take Your Time: Don’t expect to be the perfect leader from day one. You need time to practice a new set of skills and grow into your role. Even Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) took three years before he publicly announced to his people that he was the messenger of God and they should follow him; he spent all that time contacting people in secret and building a network of support.

Back to the 42-year-old coaching client on the phone who told me he wasn’t ready. After an hour of coaching, he realized that it was okay to feel uncomfortable and that it shouldn’t stop him from at least exploring the role and seeking professional help to succeed in that role. He had it all in him, just like you do.

Mohammed Faris is an international coach, author and speaker who helps professionals and entrepreneurs live the best versions of themselves spiritually, physically and socially. He’s the founder of ProductiveMuslim.com and author of The Productive Muslim: Where Faith Meets Productivity.

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