Elements of Spiritual Leadership and its Relations to Leadership Communication in Imran Khan’s Speeches at International Forums

Muhammad Zammad Aslam (1) , Norhafezah Yusof (2) , Mohd. Khairie Ahmad (3)
(1) School of Multimedia Technology and Communication, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Malaysia , Malaysia
(2) School of Multimedia Technology and Communication, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Malaysia , Malaysia
(3) School of Multimedia Technology and Communication, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Malaysia , Malaysia


The study employs Western spiritual leadership theories yet is supposed to be from an Asian-Pakistani perspective. Associating Imran Khan’s (IK) political communication with these spiritual leadership theories would transform them into the eastern-cum-Asian context. IK and other world leaders may communicate distinctively in public interaction. Because political/religious leaders in Pakistan frequently utilise religious references in their communication to persuade their supporters, mediating or moderating political communication or leadership communication accordingly. Thus, spiritual leadership ideas influence attitudes and behaviours religiously. This qualitative study analysed textual speeches employing a directed qualitative content method enhancing trustworthiness. Researchers transcribed IK’s video speeches (2008-2022) using Notta Premium. In the findings, IK cited Islam and Islamic history, knowing that his audience values a spiritual leader who speaks about religious teachings alongside political communication and understands the importance of religious spirituality. His communication may inspire local trust and optimism. However, religious implications in political communication may confound international audiences. Thus, IK utilised local spiritual/religious leadership elements to pursue Pakistanis’ devotedly influenced audience in his speeches.

Full text article

Generated from XML file


Bayes, R., Druckman, J. N., Goods, A., & Molden, D. C. (2020). When and how different motives can drive motivated political reasoning. Political Psychology, 41(5), 1031-1052. https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12663

Eddy, K. A. (2021). Faith in the White House: Examining the Language and Performance of Spiritual Leadership in the US Presidency. Journal of Media and Religion, 20(4), 173-194. https://doi.org/10.1080/15348423.2021.1996999

Elo, S. and Kyngäs, H. (2008). The qualitative content analysis process. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 62(1), 107-115. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04569.x

Fry, L. W. (2003). Toward a theory of spiritual leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 14(6), 693-727. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2003.09.001

Fry, L. W. (2005). Introduction to The Leadership Quarterly special issue: Toward a paradigm of spiritual leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(5), 619-622. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2005.07.001

Fry, L. W., & Nisiewicz, M. S. (2013). Maximising the triple bottom line through spiritual leadership. Stanford University Press.

Graneheim, U. H., & Lundman, B. (2004). Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures, and measures to achieve trustworthiness. Nurse Education Today, 24(2), 105-112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2003.10.001

Haque, M. J., Nawaz, M. Z., Shaikh, H. A., & Tariq, M. Z. (2021). Spiritual Leadership and Unit Productivity: Does the Psychological Need to Mediate the Relationship Between Spiritual Leadership and Unit Productivity? Public Integrity, 24(7), 615-628. https://doi.org/10.1080/10999922.2021.1957271

Hatcher, M. (1991). Transformational and spiritual leadership. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 9(1), 65-80. https://doi.org/10.1177/089801019100900109

Hsieh, H. F. and Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277–1288.

Khan, I. [@ImranKhanPTI]. (2019, September 26). President Erdogan, PM Mahatir, and I had a meeting today in which we decided on our three countries... [Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/ImranKhanPTI/status/1176938509816537089 (Accessed 15 July 2022)

Khan, I. [OxfordUnion]. (2013, March 4). Imran Khan | Full Address | Oxford Union. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UAqOQf8n6c (Accessed 10 June 2022)

Khan, I. [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf] (2022, October 26). Chairman PTI Imran Khans Address to The Oxford Union. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPnEEnSDkFc (Accessed 28 October 2022)

Khan, I. [Public News]. (2019b, June 1). PM Imran Khan Complete Speech at Islamic Summit in Mecca. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrLZHlREkG8 (Accessed 15 July 2022)

Khan, I. [Public News]. (2019c, June 14). PM Imran Khan Complete speech at SCO Summit 2019. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkyxlWjmBhY (Accessed 17 July 2022)

Khan, I. [SAMMA TV]. (2019d, July 23). PM Imran Khan Complete Speech at the US Institute of Peace in DC. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAgVSM1QOec (Accessed 18 July 2022)

Khan, I. [SAMMA TV]. (2019f, October 8). PM Imran Khan keynote speech at china council for the promotion of International Trade. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0-Ye_YfGW4 (Accessed 21 July 2022)

Khan, I. [United Nations]. (2019e, September 28). Pakistan - Prime Minister Addresses General Debate, 74th Session. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyaQgnQCQ5k (Accessed 15 July 2022)

Khan, I. [United Nations]. (2021, September 25). Pakistan’s Prime Minister Addresses the United Nations General Debate, 76th Session. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qUryNMzrdw (Accessed 28 October 2022)

Khan, I. [World Government Summit]. (2019a, February 11). Main Address - H.E. Imran Khan: full session of the World Government Summit. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8246CzExEs (Accessed 19 July 2022)

Khan, M. A., Ismail, F. B., Hussain, A., & Alghazali, B. (2020). The interplay of leadership styles, innovative work behavior, organisational culture, and organisational citizenship behavior. Sage Open, 10(1), 2158244019898264. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244019898264

Kibiswa, N. K. (2019). Directed qualitative content analysis (DQlCA): A tool for conflict analysis. The Qualitative Report, 24(8), 2059-2079. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2019.3778

Kitscher, (1986). Leadership. In Hatcher, M. (1991). Transformational and spiritual leadership. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 9(1), 65-80. https://doi.org/10.1177/089801019100900109

Knoetze, J. J. (2022). Theological education, spiritual formation and leadership development in Africa: What does God have to do with it? HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies, 78(4), a7521, 1-6. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i4.7521

Kyngäs, H. (2020). Qualitative research and content analysis. In The application of content analysis in nursing science research (pp. 3-11). Springer, Cham.

MacArthur, J. F. (1998). In the footsteps of faith. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Maryati, T., & Astuti, R. J. (2022). The Influence of Spiritual Leadership and Employee Engagement toward Employee Performance: The Role of Organizational Commitment. Quality-Access to Success, 23(189), 322-331. https://doi.org/10.47750/QAS/23.189.37

Mason, J. (2002). Qualitative researching (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications.

Mayring, P. (2000). Qualitative Content Analysis. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1(2), 159-176. https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-1.2.1089

Mayring, P. (2014) Qualitative content analysis: Theoretical foundation, basic procedures and software solution. Klagenfurt: Monograph. https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-395173

McNair, B. (2017). An introduction to political communication (Vol. 5). Taylor & Francis.

McWatt, S. C. (2021). Responding to Covid‐19: A thematic analysis of students’ perspectives on modified learning activities during an emergency transition to remote human anatomy education. Anatomical Sciences Education, 14(6), 721-738. https://doi.org/10.1002/ase.2136

Merriam, S. B. (2001). Qualitative research and case study applications in education (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Miller, R. M., Chan, C. D., & Farmer, L. B. (2018). Interpretative phenomenological analysis: A contemporary qualitative approach. Counselor Education and Supervision, 57(4), 240-254. https://doi.org/10.1002/ceas.12114

Norris, P. (2001). Political Communication. In N. J. Smelser, & P. B. Baltes (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (pp. 11631-1640). Amsterdam: Elsevier.


Patterson, M. E., & Williams, D. R. (2002). Collecting and analysing qualitative data: Hermeneutic principles, methods, and case examples. Champaign, IL: Sagamore Publishing.

Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Powers, B. P. (1979). Christian leadership. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

Reichert, F., & Print, M. (2017). Mediated and moderated effects of political communication on civic participation. Information, Communication & Society, 20(8), 1162-1184. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2016.1218524

Ritscher, J. A. (1986). Spiritual Leadership. In Hatcher, M. (1991). Transformational and spiritual leadership. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 9(1), 65-80. https://doi.org/10.1177/089801019100900109

Rasool, U., Aslam, M. Z., Mahmood, R., Barzani, S. H. H., & Qian, J. (2023b). Pre-service EFL teacher’s perceptions of foreign language writing anxiety and some associated factors. Heliyon, 9(2), e13405. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e13405

Rasool, U., Qian, J., & Aslam, M. Z. (2023a). An investigation of foreign language writing anxiety and its reasons among pre-service EFL teachers in Pakistan. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 8157. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.947867

Rasool, U., Aslam, M. Z., Qian, J. & Barzani, S. (2022). The Effects of Online Supervisory Feedback on Student-Supervisor Communications during the COVID-19. European Journal of Educational Research, 11(3), 1569-1579. https://doi.org/10.12973/eu-jer.11.3.1569

Roof, R. A., Bocarnea, M. C., & Winston, B. E. (2017). The Spiritual Engagement Instrument. Asian Journal of Business Ethics, 6(2), 215-232. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13520-017-0073-y

Ryan, G. W., & Bernard, H. R. (2003). Techniques to identify themes. Field methods, 15(1), 85-109. https://doi.org/10.1177/1525822X02239569

Samul, J. (2019). Spiritual leadership: Meaning in the sustainable workplace. Sustainability, 12(1), 267. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010267

Samul, J. & Wangmo. (2021). Spiritual dimensions in leadership: a comparative analysis of Polish and Bhutanese managers. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 14, 847-856. https://doi.org/10.2147%2FPRBM.S311456

Sapta, I. K. S., Rustiarini, N. W., Kusuma, I. G. A. E. T., & Astakoni, I. M. P. (2021). Spiritual leadership and organisational commitment: The mediation role of workplace spirituality. Cogent Business & Management, 8(1), 1966865. https://doi.org/10.1080/23311975.2021.1966865

Udin, U. (2020). Transformational leadership and organisational commitment: a review of literature. Journal of Research And Opinion, 7(2), 2623-2626. https://doi.org/10.15520/jro.v7i2.49

Usman, M., Ali, M., Ogbonnaya, C. & Babalola, M. T. (2021). Fueling the intrapreneurial spirit: A closer look at how spiritual leadership motivates employee intrapreneurial behaviors. Tourism Management, 83, 104227. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2020.104227

Venus, M., Johnson, R. E., Zhang, S., Wang, X. H. & Lanaj, K. (2019). Seeing the big picture: A within-person examination of leader construal level and vision communication. Journal of Management, 45(7), 2666-2684. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206318761576

Wang, M., Guo, T., Ni, Y., Shang, S. & Tang, Z. (2019). The effect of spiritual leadership on employee effectiveness: An intrinsic motivation perspective. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2627. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02627

Zhang, Y. and Wildemuth, B.M. (2009). Qualitative analysis of content. In: Wildemuth B (ed.) Applications of Social Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, pp. 308–319.


Muhammad Zammad Aslam
zammad.aslam@gmail.com (Primary Contact)
Norhafezah Yusof
Mohd. Khairie Ahmad
Author Biographies

Muhammad Zammad Aslam, School of Multimedia Technology and Communication, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Malaysia

Muhammad Zammad Aslam holds a master’s degree in English (Linguistics and Literature) & a degree in Master of Philosophy in English Linguistics from the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad. He is also currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Communication at Universiti Utara Malaysia. He is also a certified master trainer and an English Language instructor. His research interest includes Media and Persuasion, Political Persuasion, Political Communication, Political Discourse Analysis, and Second Language Learning and Acquisition.

Norhafezah Yusof, School of Multimedia Technology and Communication, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Malaysia

Professor Norhafezah Yusof is currently Dean of the AHSGS, UUMCAS, UUM. She is a Professor in the Department of Communication, SMMTC, UUM. She obtained her Ph.D. (Communication) from Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom. Her research areas are organisational communication, instructional communication, and intercultural communication. She is passionate about publishing journal articles, book chapters, and newspaper columns. She has published in reputed local and international journals.

Mohd. Khairie Ahmad, School of Multimedia Technology and Communication, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Malaysia

Mohd Khairie Ahmad (Ph.D. University of Queensland, 2011) is an Associate Professor in Communication Studies at the Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM). Currently, he is serving as Dean SMMTC, UUM. His research areas are Communication and Media for Social Change, Health Communication, Political Communication, and Communication Management. Currently, Khairie is working with local and international postgraduate students on their Ph.D. and Master thesis in areas including health communication, media and journalism for social change, and communication management.

Aslam, M. Z., Yusof, N., & Ahmad, M. K. (2023). Elements of Spiritual Leadership and its Relations to Leadership Communication in Imran Khan’s Speeches at International Forums. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 23(3), 56–67. https://doi.org/10.36923/jicc.v23i3.250

Article Details

Smart Citations via scite_