Purpose – The purpose of this research is to address the notion of leadership in Muslim countries. It seeks to develop a model for understanding leadership in Islamic culture and discusses the factors which give rise to two types of leadership: the prophetic and caliphate. Design/methodology/approach – The article briefly surveys the socio-economic and political forces which facilitate the emergence of certain leadership styles. The paper, then, suggests a model of leadership relevant to Islamic culture. Findings – Two types of leadership were identified. Furthermore, the paper addresses the conflict between idealism and realism and the rise of authoritarian leaders. Practical implications – This paper offers policymakers and researchers various avenues on how to address the issue of leadership in an Islamic culture and presents a theoretical model for understanding issues pertaining to leaders and leadership in Muslim societies. Specific propositions pertaining to the effect of culture and society on leadership are offered. Originality/value – The paper offers a genuine reflection on the nature of leadership. The issue of leadership and its linkage to culture has often been overlooked in the literature. In part, this is because most of the literature on leadership has been focused primarily on personality-based relationships and relationships between leaders and followers. In this paper, it is argued that culture shapes personality and gives meaning to contextual and relational aspects of leadership.
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