Abstract The attributes of modesty, patience, humility, knowledge, forbearance and consultation are highlighted by His Highness the Aga Khan as attributes for good leadership, following a saying by Imam Ali. This article expands on the theme of successful leadership as a fine balancing act, where possession of these self-effacing qualities is a sign of someone who is a true master of him or herself.
No belief is like modesty and patience, no attainment is like humility, no honour is like knowledge, no power is like forbearance, and no support is more reliable than consultation.”
His Highness the Aga Khan has frequently quoted this saying of Imam Ali in his speeches. Modesty, patience, humility, knowledge, forbearance and consultation are some of the key attributes of good leadership. History has many examples of individuals who have risen above their circumstances to become great leaders. These are people who, for the most part, have surmounted obstacles with faith, determination and hard work. One of the primary challenges a human being faces through life is to overcome personal limitations. Successful leaders tend to be those who seek to recognise their own negative tendencies and strive to rise above them. Imam Ali’s saying identifies some of the positive personal characteristics that would serve well for the head of an institution, organisation, business, family or even an informal peer group in which leadership is constantly changing.