Leaders Must Listen to the Unheard Voice

Let me remind you all, the elected leaders, whatever your position is, about this old and wise story. This is the story of Umar r.a, one of the best friends of Prophet Muhammad SAW and was the second khalifah or leader of Islam.

When Umar became a khalifah, he had a unique habit, that is walked down the street at night while disguising himself as a folk. He wanted to see directly about what happened on his country and his people. One day when he was walking down, suddenly he heard a cry of a baby in a house. Umar approached the house and looked inside. What he saw was a strange view. He saw the mother of the crying baby boiled some stones instead of cooking rich or something to eat. Bewildered by that situation he knocked the door and then asked about that matter to the mother. The mother said, “I boiled these stones is just to entertain my child who cried in starvation. I could not afford to buy something to eat. Therefore, I boiled these stones to make my child be calm and think that I was cooking him some food. Then he will be able to sleep and the next day, I don’t know what else I can do to trick my child”. “Where is your husband?” asked Umar. “He is dead because of war. Our khalifah paid no attention to a widower like me…” Hearing those sentences, Umar got sad. The mother did not know that actually he was the khalifah she intended in her words. Then, Umar went back to his place before returning to the mother’s house again bringing a sack of wheat. He carried it on his own shoulder! Then he distributed it to the mother who finally realized that the man he was talking to was her khalifah Umar r.a. After that, Umar provided her monthly necessities.

From that simple story, actually, we can learn so many things about leadership from Umar, or more specific; how the leaders should act towards the unheard voice of their people. It is a rare thing of our leaders to going down to see and hear directly what are on the heart of their people as Umar always did. The leaders only busy themselves on data in the office and make their own interpretation about everything related to their people’s lives without knowing the real fact on the field. They just go down when campaign for their nomination is held, they would say hello to everybody, even to the dirty beggar on the road, to the sellers on the market, farmers, fishmongers, so on. Once W.S Rendra said, “Our leaders are only taught about how to smile and wave their hands on the market”. Some go down only to declare and attend a congress or meeting, dedicate a new building, sign documents, study the situation of a particular area, announce something, but they usually forget to listen to the unheard voice of people, moreover to respond to the critiques and feedback wholeheartedly and solve the problems. It is a rare quality of a leader.

Every leader should represent their society, be the ears and mouth of society, not only think about advantageous prospects and close the eyes about the interest of the people. Look Umar, he dressed as his people did. He responded to the voices of his people he heard directly, listened to them patiently without getting annoyed or even suppressing them, and the most important thing is that he solved their problems by his own attempt without desiring for publicity and power or claiming services that they had done for their people.

Those are what the leaders should act toward the unheard voice of people; going down then approaching the sources of the voices of the people using their heart, listening to them, and solving their problem. If they have done so, I am sure that there will be nobody who disliked such a leader. That story is full of wisdoms for the thinking leaders. So make sure you all, the elected leaders, that you all are the thinking leaders and wise enough to study and practice the real leadership.


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