As the world celebrates the Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July 2014, we as management students should take a moment to consider 8 powerful lessons we can distill from his leadership and managerial abilities that are relevant for BMS students who aspire to lead and create lasting value in the world.
1) Positions and titles don’t define great leaders:
Nelson Mandela served as South Africa’s President only for 5 years but in that timeframe, he exerted influence and leveraged the power of his position to create a global positive impact.
2) Leadership is not holding positions of formal authority:
In the decade and a half following his retirement from politics, Nelson Mandela’s influence grew as a global humanitarian and philanthropist. His capacity to integrate, motivate and mobilize others to bring a common aspiration to life is what leadership is all about. Mandela’s example gives a message that retirement is nothing to be afraid of. One should embrace each season and lead where you are.
3) Leverage the insight of others:
Before becoming the South Africa’s first black President, Mandela honed his collaborative instinct and created a multi-racial and mixed gendered leadership team to combat apartheid as head of the African National Congress. He understood the power of courageously choosing to forgive those who have wronged you and revolutionized markets, organizations and ultimately enriched many lives.
4) Never give up even if it seems impossible:
Mandela is widely quoted as saying that “if always seems impossible until it’s done”. His consistent efforts shows us that the seemingly impossible will always remain impossible if people fail to do gather the courage to do what’s right. Accomplishing anything worth talking about or remembering will involve a lot of hardwork and smartwork too. Mandela teaches us to commit our lives and leadership practices to push for the seemingly impossible.
5) Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all:
Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1943 as a law student then they campaigned against apartheid and he was arrested and sentenced to life. Solitary confinement almost killed him but still preached reconciliation and was ready to sacrifice all.
6) Cause is more stronger than what people’s thoughts & beliefs:
Mandela was accused of treason and other leaders called him sinner but still he kept fighting for peace and equality. He had fought against white domination and black domination and always believe in nothing except that his cause for which he was fighting was just very strong and going to win more and more support.
7) Face the reality:
Mandela always insisted on speaking the truth, even if it would ruffle the feathers of his own supporters. During the Zulu Inkatha movement, he refused to put the blame to the opposition alone and insisted on facing the truth. He accepted that his people are just involved as other organizations that are committing violence and one cannot climb to freedom on the corpses of innocent people.
8) Walk the talk and live for and to achieve:
Mandela had always cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. He was even prepared to die to live for and achieve that goal.
BY POONAM SHAH
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