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“Your Only Way Is Victory” – Leadership Lessons From Tarik Ibn Zeyad

Written by: Dr. Hynd Bouhia, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Tarik Ibn Zeyad was one of the Greatest Leaders of the 7th and 8th centuries. As a military strategist, he conquered the Iberic Peninsula (Spain and Portugal of today) and started there the Muslim Kingdom which governed until the 11th century.

Tarik Ibn Zeyad conquest is the biggest lesson of leadership. With a clear vision and empowering his troops, he led them through Victory!

It still applies today to each one of us. Having a clear vision, empowering oneself and taking action are among the top qualities for a successful leadership!

This article highlights the strategic leadership of Tarik Ibn Zeyad and draws from history and today’s business world seven leadership qualities to embrace in order to reach the goals with excellence.

Going back to the conquest of the Iberic Peninsula in the 8th century

One of the history courses that was always stuck in my mind was about Tarik Ibn Zeyad and his conquest of the Iberia Peninsula.

Tarik Ibn Zeyad gathered 7000 soldiers, largely Berber but also Arab troops, trained them and built large ships to cross the sea from Tangier to Spain. When they arrived in Spain, Tarik Ibn Zeyad ordered them to burn the ships. He told his soldiers who would not know how to swim back: “The sea is behind you and the enemy is in front of you... Your only way is Victory”

This is how Tarik Ibn Zeyad brought the Muslim civilization to the Peninsula and governed for many years. Gibraltar is named after him. Its meaning in Arabic is the Mountain of Tarik (Jabal Tarek).

A lesson transcending history for leadership and victory. It reaffirms that one of the best illustrations of leadership is to have a clear vision along with the empowerment of your team and your followers!

You can apply this to your life by knowing your goal clearly and vividly, and cutting every link with the past. In other words, you need to burn the bridges so that there is no turning back and going back to the old life. The only destination available is “Success” and “Victory”.

Seven leadership qualities

Drawing from several lessons from history and from the modern business world, for leadership to be successful, it needs to include a set of qualities. These qualities need to co-exist to create an effective and empowered leadership style.

  1. A clear vision: is what makes leaders different than managers and turns them into transformational and inspirational responsible individuals.

  2. Courage: is not only the opposite of conformity, but it is also to be willing to take on risks with no assurance of success.

  3. Integrity: all the executives and the leaders agree on the importance of having complete honesty in everything you do. This means that you tell the truth to all people and in all situations.

  4. Humility: by recognizing the value of others and by empowering followers and people around you.

  5. Strategic planning: to be able to look ahead and to anticipate the trends and the opportunities in the market.

  6. Results’ focused: in order to keep your eyes on what needs to be achieved and to stay laser-focused no matter what.

  7. Excellence: leaders seek excellence in their organization, their offer, their work, and in the way they are doing business.

Leading is the ability to get results

The set of qualities and the different ways to adopt the personality of leaders is important. Nevertheless, it can all be distilled to a single concept, and that is the ability to get results. In fact, at the end of the day, what matters for a leader is to set a goal and to have the courage and the ability to reach it.

Thus, staying focused can happen by keeping the goal in the mind at all times. Instead of focusing on problems or why they will not be able to reach them. Leaders spend their energy on finding solutions to overcome the obstacles and reach their pre-set goals.

…and having the right mindset

Drawing from several lessons from historical victories, and today’s successful leaders, the secret for empowered leadership is having a strong mindset, an unshakable belief in reaching success and the commitment to their goals. Solutions and possibilities are the overriding themes.

This concept applies to everyone. Because everyone is a leader in the space where he or she lives and operates. At home, parents are leaders. In a group of friends, they could take a leadership role when they plan an outing or simply be in charge of ordering a pizza. As an entrepreneur, business owners display leadership in the management of their business. In an organization, executives show leadership within their team, with their expertise and the strategic positioning of their work.

Finally, your leadership footprint depends on your mindset and the impact you want to have.

A clear vision and the courage to reach it will determine your success as a leader!

For more info, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and visit my website!


Dr. Hynd Bouhia, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Hynd Bouhia has cumulated more than 20 years of professional experience in high-level and leadership positions, covering investments, financial structuring, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development strategies. Hynd Bouhia was nominated by Forbes among the 100 most influential women in the world in 2008 and among the most influential women in Business in the Arab World in 2015 and honored as a member of the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars in 2018.



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