From Mahatma Gandhi to present leaders, history is replete with people who changed the world in unique ways. In life, people are hunting for leadership skills and styles, which can better them as leaders (Clawson, 2002). While this is the case, iconic Nelson Mandela demonstrated how leadership is far from eloquent speech-making and public appearance. Leadership is entrenched in personality qualities. Mandela’s leadership style offers a range of qualities, which are worth emulating by modern leaders. Mandela was born after a major world war, faced multiple challenges, in South Africa, which was characterized by sheer apartheid. Unlike young men of his time, Mandela adhered to radical views against the white rule as he pressed for freedom. His 27-year prison life at Roben Island and unfading smile depict Mandela’s courage and drive to lead the people (O’Meara, 2008).
His main attitude and approach towards life was making sacrifices. O’Meara (2008) argues that Mandela believed in the suffering of other people to influence their country. His endurance of prison life and harsh conditions are pointers to Mandela’s incomparable passion for his nation. At the heart of Mandela’s quest was equality for everyone in South Africa regardless of his or her race. Because of what he stood for in terms of beliefs, values, and attitudes, Mandela made decisions, which favored Blacks and Whites in South Africa. This essay focuses on Mandela’s leadership attributes, which influenced his life and the people he led.
Notably, third level leadership applauds individual leadership ideas, which are in agreement with skills and experience that result into unconscious habit. Scouller agrees that the personality of a leader is essential in influencing the people around since subjects emulate the life of a respected leader in the society (2011).
Mandela’s resilience during adversities made him likable to the rest of the world. After 27 years in life because of what he believed in, Mandela relentlessly carried on his fight for equality in SA through eliminating racial discrimination. Upon his release from prison, Mandela faced resistance from blacks and whites who became useless. He however maintained his principles even during setbacks. Because of ever-emerging challenge, which came his way, Mandela had to change his approaches in order to handle every circumstance. In other words, he morphed into a situational leader, adjusting his leadership tactics depending on the context without abandoning his principles.
From Mandela’s leadership model, every leader needs a range of strategic leadership styles. He had a better dream for South Africa. He employed flexible approaches in breaking the chains of racial discrimination in his country. He also exhibited an understanding of the system to change a person’s behavior. After being freed, Mandela had the option of buying people’s discouragements. He could have used unorthodox means to avenge. In stead, Nelson Mandela took time to understand the system, which is key in changing the lives of people. He appreciated the fact that many people remained paranoid about losing their privileges. Throughout the apartheid period, the whites were superior and had everything at their disposal. This understanding became crucial for Mandela, as he developed groundwork and insights into a crisis that engulfed his country. This lends important lessons to other leaders about the need to study causes of actions in people and not mere outward reaction to events. According to O’Meara, Mandela understood that the root of any problem if always underneath, and unearthed (2008). This approach was successful in enhancing and implementing behavior change in people.
Additionally, Mandela had interpersonal style of leadership, which showed his passion to achieve good for other people. Even though he met people who had little good things inwardly, Mandela believed that everyone had something appealing. For instance, he considered the prison guards who molested him as simple folks in unfamiliar territories. Thus, he found it easy to relate with everybody he came across, including the prison wardens.
It is worth noting that ethics are about personal morality. In other words, a person’s moral character stems from norms coupled with habits. Mandela had incomparable levels of honesty and simplicity. His honest desire was to see a racial-free South Africa. His honesty was unwavering despite the challenges that came his way. With his stance, he tirelessly advocated for freedom through peaceful means. He was a true servant with humility and generosity. Mandela portrays a unique case since not everyone would spend 27 years in prison and remain grateful with love (O’Meara, 2008). His resilience was humble, even though he recognized the need to have a free and peaceful nation despite many years of incarceration. With all these adversities, Mandela never mentioned or planned for revenge.
In summary, leadership models of different personalities help in developing other leaders and bring change in the lives of others. The life of Mandela is a living legacy that inspires SA and the rest of the world. Modern day leaders and people can uphold these traits and approaches, which Mandela embraced. Scouller affirms that personal leadership strategies drawn from manila’s life reflect internal attribute of developing personality in five leadership traits that can be summarized into three phrases (2011). These phases include the presence of technical skills the power to improve leadership as seen through Mandela as he mobilized peaceful campaigns. Secondly, a leader needs the right attitude and predisposition towards other people. This was Mandela’s strong point as he saw something appealing in everyone. Even after 27 years of imprisonment, he remained positive towards his oppressors. Lastly, every leader needs psychological self-mastery in the right measure to handle opposition positively and gain positive results. One must be willing to adjust to contextual changes without undermining their principles.
Clawson, J. G. (2002). Level three leadership. 5 ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
O’Meara, P., and Winchester, N. B. (2008). “Nelson Mandela”. Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation.
Scouller, J. (2011). The three levels of leadership: How to develop your leadership presence, knowhow and skill. Cirencester: Management Books 2000, ISBN 9781852526818