The research paper focuses on the leadership of King Solomon. As a matter of practice, God chose leaders of Israel with the intention of aiding the attainment of His sacred objectives. The paper acknowledges the variance in leadership based on interpersonal dynamics, personal traits, context, and contemporariness. With specific reference to emotional intelligence, servant leadership, and transformational leadership theories, the paper establishes that Solomon was a special leader. It is further established that Solomon demonstrated great emotional intelligence besides exhibiting the attributes of both servant and transformative leadership.
Solomon is one of the leaders who create a huge impression in the Bible. He is regarded to be among the greatest leaders in history. Despite his immense wisdom, Solomon, like many leaders before him, made some mistakes that cost him dearly (Coogan, 2009). Regardless, his contribution is significant to efforts aimed at comprehending the functioning of leadership. The present paper traces the leadership of Solomon with the objective of understanding interpersonal dynamics and the context in which leadership operates.
The position of Solomon as a leader is traced to the moment when God appeared to him in a dream. In Kings 3: 5-9 (New International Version), the author demonstrates that the Lord asked Solomon to make a wish. In response, Solomon zeroed on the promise God had made to his father (David), that his son would occupy a leadership position in Israel. According to Kimuyu (2009), Solomon began exhibiting leadership skills from the very beginning having told God that he was only a child who barely understood what was expected of him as a leader. In other words, he sought the guidance from God before assuming the throne. Solomon also proceeded to concede that given the greatness of the people to be led, the task lying ahead of him was always going to be daunting, hence he needed help.
Personal Attributes and Contextual Leadership
First of all, the case of Solomon reflects an individual who is humble both at heart and in spirit. In his request before God, Solomon does not come out as a person filled with pride. For instance, the young king informs God about his inadequacies and inability to lead without His counsel (Finkelstein & Silberman, 2006). The revelation is in contrast to what present leaders do which entails traversing their regions to brag about their qualifications. It is discerned that Solomon’s attitude was central to the decisions that he made. It is interesting that Solomon perceived himself as a child dependent on his father’s guidance to succeed. In essence, Solomon knew and recognized his limitations.
Secondly, the King’s request to God demonstrates a profound level of dependence on counsel. The analogy strikes the similarity that rests on the link between adults and children. In practice, children depend on adults for supervision owing to the inexperience displayed by the former. Such deficiency implies that judging is a difficult task given the inability to differentiate good and evil. In addition, children, such as Solomon, are faced with the risk of losing control or letting their bodily/ internal desires to take charge. In this regard, Solomon is acknowledging his frailty as well as vulnerability.
God was pleased to hear Solomon’s desire. In return, God decided to grant Solomon riches and fame, in addition to his wisdom (Finkelstein & Silberman, 2006). The implication is that God ranks discernment and wisdom higher than wealth and fame. Thus, those individuals who seek the former attributes are blessed than those interested in wealth and power.
During that time, kingships throughout the Eastern world were characterized by absolute power accompanied with wealth and oppression of subjects. It is clear that Solomon chose a dissimilar style of leadership. The young king opted for a different brand of leadership instead of pursuing the prevailing model that emphasized power. On the contrary, he chose wisdom and spirit-led leadership that would allow him to serve or work as a servant of his people (Kimuyu, 2009). It is evident that the type of leadership that God supports is servant leadership. For example, Jesus taught his disciples to operate as servant leaders. In Mathew 20: 25-28 (New International Version), it says:
But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Based on the above verses, it is evident that Jesus did not envision forceful leadership. Thus, leading through intimidation and fear did not count towards the right form of leadership. Jesus led by example and expected his followers to do the same. Excerpts from John 13: 16 (New International Version) reveal as much, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.” In essence, the followers of the word of God are expected to be servant leaders. Solomon is also remembered for his philandering behavior. Apparently, Solomon kept 300 wives and 500 concubines (Williams & Denney, 2010). Given that Solomon is regarded as one of the wisest men, it is difficult to understand blemish. However, it is evident that the leader’s wisdom was witnessed early in his reign given that it was much later when wives and concubines dominated his life.
When God appeared to Solomon and asked to know the latter’s heart desires, the result was baffling. By taking the choice of wisdom instead of riches/ wealth and power, Solomon stood out as a stalwart in thinking. Wisdom itself is great, however, as the leadership of Solomon later proved, even wisdom can be used in furtherance of self-serving or selfish gains. The request for a discerning heart demonstrates that Solomon wanted to be fair in delivering judgment. Before one understands, it is mandatory to listen. Taking a biblical perspective, it is discerned that Solomon wanted to listen to the voice of God whenever faced with dilemmas (Kimuyu, 2009). In Proverbs 1:7 (New International Version), Solomon states that, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” One of the main judgments that highlight the leadership of Solomon relates to the case of the two women who had a dispute about the one whose baby had died. One of the ladies accused the other of rolling over her child leading to its death before switching the other baby to her side (Kimuyu, 2009). The accused denied the accusation leading to the conflict. At that time, it was impossible to test babies’ DNA, hence it caused a difficult dispute. In response, Solomon took a sword to cut the baby in half to give each of the women. The act led to the realization of the true mother given her preference that the baby could live with the accused instead of it being cut in half. Consequently, Solomon solved the case and the rightful mother was given the baby. From that point, it became evident that Solomon was the wisest ruler to have ruled Israel.
Effective leaders demonstrate certain similarities in a given way. One of such aspects is the possession of a high degree of emotional intelligence. An emotionally intelligent leader is one who is able to accurately perceive and manage his individual and other people’s emotions (Northouse, 2007). According to Northouse (2007), the key attributes of emotional intelligence are self-regulation, self-awareness, motivation (passion for work), empathy for other people, and social skills (such as proficiency in the management of relationships and nurturing of networks).
Comprehending the constituents of emotional intelligence is useful not only because of capacity and its centrality to leadership but also because individuals who possess the attribute are known to be more effective in leading. However, adequate balancing of the various attributes of emotional intelligence is necessary (Northouse, 2007). For instance, having a high degree of empathy yet lacking in self-control might be counterproductive. From the account of Solomon, it is evident that his leadership was mature and based on emotional intelligence. In particular, Solomon demonstrated self-awareness when he asked God for wisdom to help him in discerning between good and evil. The concession by Solomon about being naïve is also a clear demonstration of self-understanding. Solomon also conceded that the task of leading Israel was daunting, and required supernatural intervention.
Throughout the Bible, servant leadership is espoused as the best brand of leadership. The position is clear based on Jesus’ teaching, which affirms that a good leader is one who functions as a shepherd (Coogan, 2009). Under servant leadership, a leader is a servant, or serves those whom he/she leads. It is after service to the people that the individual in question realizes the need to lead, consciously. Servant leaders are not interested in power or wealth but on the need to serve (Yukl, 2006). The above trait is evident in the leadership of Solomon. When God appeared to Solomon and gave him the opportunity to select whatever he wanted, the young king was categorically clear. He asked God to grant him wisdom. As it was mentioned already, during that time, leaders were wealthy individuals who led with an iron-fist. However, Solomon chose to deviate by requesting for wisdom rather than power and wealth. In this regard, it is evident that Solomon was a servant leader.
Solomon prayed for understanding heart so that he would be able to make sound judgments. Solomon was aware that for a leader to differentiate between good and evil, the possession of insight from above was essential.
Obiwuru, Okwu, Akpa, and Nwankwere (2011) are among the scholars who have studied transformational leadership. The above authors observed that the leadership style is reminiscent of an exercise where one party raises another. Taking into consideration the leadership context, the style entails leaders elevating followers to a higher level in reference to morality and motivation. Further, Obiwuru et al. (2011) indicated that transformational leaders act in a transformative manner by using their charisma to influence followers. The authors also contended that charisma is a special personality attribute that accords leaders exceptional ability. They went further to allege that such powers are rare and seen as divine. Taking the above description, it is evident that Solomon’s leadership was based on exceptional ability whose only source was divine.
Based on the leadership of Solomon, a wise leader pursues Godly objectives. The young king pursed good as opposed to evil. He realized that for him to achieve his mission, God’s direction was critical. A wise leader must have a suitable view of self. Viewing himself as a child implies that he knew he needed help from above. Solomon had learned from the poor choices that his father (David) had made. Hence, he knew that he might have to suffer from the same weakness. The above explains Solomon’s choice to seek the intervention of God. A wise leader also possesses awareness about the people he leads. Solomon indicated that the ability to judge a great people rested on God’s guidance. The task of leading Israel was a huge one, and Solomon acknowledged it. In order to provide the best leadership, Solomon asked God for guidance to understand people’s interests. In other words, placing people’s interests ahead is one of the attributes that good leadership puts in front. A good emotional or spiritual leader is focused on the welfare of people he leads. As opposed to concentrating on looking good or personal gain, good leaders watch on people’s aspirations. In other words, leadership is a service to others. Throughout the Bible, God speaks of leaders as shepherds. Naturally, shepherds have the onus of protecting their sheep under any circumstances. An understanding that he was about to take charge of a great people demonstrates that a leader must know the people he is leading. The knowledge extends from people’s needs, expectations, and aspirations. From the initial stages, Solomon seems aware of his people’s dreams, by asking God to accord him the necessary skills to succeed.
The paper establishes that Solomon is regarded as one of the wisest leaders historically. Yet, the king of Israel led a scandalous life regarding his choice to marry many wives and keep mistresses. By whatever standard, such way of life is not wise. It is also noted that a leader should lead by example. Hence, questions remain on retaining Solomon as one of the wisest leaders Israel has ever had. In my assessment, the decision to ask for wisdom instead of wealth and power does not trump actual behavior. In the future, it would be interesting to carry a more detailed study to enumerate Solomon’s successes and failures on either side in order to discern which part outweighs the other. It is also noted that no matter how wise the king is, susceptibility to error remains. From the paper, it is evident that Solomon made many mistakes. Despite making mistakes, the king has remained a reference point for many years. In light of this, it would be informative to go deeper into understanding leadership to find aspects that influence a leader over time. One line to pursue is to determine whether power corrupts.
Overall, it is evident that Solomon is an exemplary case of biblical leadership. Chosen by God, Solomon began leading excellently before he veered off the line to engage in ungodly acts. One of the main reasons regarding Solomon’s leadership is that God is always keeping an eye on those He selects to lead. As the case of Solomon shows, for one to remain a successful leader, obedience to God’s counsel (at all times) is mandatory.