Happy birthday, Madiba.
In the history of Africa, there have been only a handful of democratically elected leaders who willingly stood down from office. Mandela was determined to set a precedent for all who followed him — not only in South Africa but across the rest of the continent. He would be the anti-Mugabe, the man who gave birth to his country and refused to hold it hostage. “His job was to set the course,” says Ramaphosa, “not to steer the ship.” He knows that leaders lead as much by what they choose not to do as what they do.
Ultimately, the key to understanding Mandela is those 27 years in prison. The man who walked onto Robben Island in 1964 was emotional, headstrong, easily stung. The man who emerged was balanced and disciplined. He is not and never has been introspective. I often asked him how the man who emerged from prison differed from the willful young man who had entered it. He hated this question. Finally, in exasperation one day, he said, “I came out mature.” There is nothing so rare — or so valuable — as a mature man.
The leadership traits that he describes may seem common sense, but executing them requires sagacity, only someone who “came out mature” could do..!
Here are the key points:
Courage is not the absence of fear — it’s inspiring others to move beyond it
Lead from the front — but don’t leave your base behind
Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front
Know your enemy — and learn about his favorite sport
Keep your friends close — and your rivals even closer
Appearances matter — and remember to smile
Nothing is black or white
Quitting is leading too
Don’t be content reading just the key points. Read and reflect on how this spiritual /political leader applied it in his own life.