We enjoy honour, glory and pride. We want to be dignified and respected in our life. We love to be valued and appreciated by others. However, respect and honour are not some complementary pieces of the pie, nor do they grow automatically; instead, it has a price. Many people make charity to earn respect, some develop extraordinary skills of interpersonal relationships and buy admirations. Some people earn recognition and commendation through extremely hard work. Many involve themselves in social works and join politics to earn respect, status, and dignity. Although we all want honourable, decent, and respectful space in our society, many fail to comprehend the true meaning of respect and honour. In the performance-based capitalist mindset, many people do not possess the appropriate insight of the sources for honour and respect. Dr Muhammad bin Abdul-Rahman al-Arifi has shared an experience1.’ He said:
“I recall one of my students at university who had become physiologically ill due to severe depression. His father held a high position in the police force and had come to visit me at the university quite a few times, asking my help with his son. Thus, I had to visit his house now and then, which was a towering mansion. I would notice that his house would always be full of guests. I was amazed at how much this family was lucky that so many people love and respect them! Years went by, and the gentleman got retired. After an interval, I went to his house for a visit. I entered his mansion and went into the guest room but noticed more than fifty chairs, but only one person watching television and a servant offering him coffee or tea. I sat with him for a while. When I left, I began to compare his situation while the man was in working and the time when he had retired. What was it about him that had attracted the people then? I realised that the man did not win people over with his manners, kindness, and good treatment. Instead, he had only attracted people through his status, position, and power. When he lost his chair, he also lost the love and respect people had for him.”
The primary focus of any leader remains with the attainment of some mission objectives. It may be a physical achievement in organizational success, or in terms of intangible quality of social progress. Indeed, the perception of success and its measurement tools differ from time and context, but all leaders always aspire to enjoy a true sense of love and respect from their men. Great leaders know that there is nothing more significant than the love and respect of people. These leaders are also aware of the price to buy it. The sacrifice of own comforts for the wellbeing of followers is the most effective price that a leader can offer to earn respect and honour. It bonds people stronger than any other way. Often we find, a poor man who works very hard, sacrifices his own rest and comforts to arrange some daily provisions, is more attached to his family members than people with an abundance of property. Leaders who have passed through challenges, difficulties, accepted distress and sufferings for upholding the rights of people are more honoured. Caring guidance and compassionate conduct during the hard times make leaders closer to their men. Leaders’ positive attitude, kind behaviour, fairness in dealing keep them in peoples minds.
Adjutant still tears, recalling his days with Lieutenant Colonel Elahi Manzoor Chowdhury while serving in the remote areas of Chittagong Hill Tracts. Many people commented Lieutenant Colonel Elahi was one of the finest creations of the Bangladesh Army who embraced martyrdom on 25 Feb 2009. Soldiers and officers possess the same emotions who once served with this gentleman. What speciality had Lieutenant Colonel Elahi possessed to win over so many people as commanding officer of 18 E Bengal? A simple innate quality to love, a sense of fatherhood for all members of the unit, created a lasting impact on every soul of his team. His care and compassion changed many lower and average grade officers to transform into excellent careers. Officers and men were so attached to his leadership environment that many did not feel about taking a vacation, even from the battleground. His humble yet magnetic personality traits and vast human qualities made him earn a very high degree of loyalty and respect from his men. Love and respect of followers are auspicious capital for every leader. A Leader who has won the heart and soul of people is truly successful. These leaders can enjoy the respect of their men even when they have no ability to offer anything. These leaders are often found leading simple life yet putting their best efforts into the well-being of their men.
Remember, leaders do not lead objects like chairs, or subjects like ideas, but they lead humans. Your leadership success lies vastly with the soul of your people, but only a little with the attainment of physical objectives. You cannot get anything more significant than the love and respect of your men.