Nelson Mandela is a global icon who freed South Africa from the shackles of the Apartheid regime. He used a non-violent approach in the fight against racial segregation, a role that landed him twenty-seven years imprisonment. While in incarceration, Mandela continued to advocate for the rights of all South Africans to live in an inclusive society free of oppression, retribution, and segregation. Upon release from prison, he led the country to a democratic election and became the first-ever black president (Freiberg n.p). Mandela then led his country through the reconciliation path, declaring it a “rainbow nation,” and addressing historical injustices. From his autobiography, The Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela attributed his leadership success to his determination to end racial segregation and promote peaceful coexistence in a multi-cultural society like South Africa.
Mandela knew that the apartheid regime could not last for long due to both domestic and international pressure to end racial segregation. As such, he refused to accept freedom in exchange for denouncing the fight against the apartheid regime. Through the use of his moral principles, dignity, and symbolism, Madiba challenged an economic system that denied his people political and socio-economic liberties. Moreover, he used an analogy to heal a multi-racial society that brought racial harmony in the previously racially charged country (Freiberg n.p). Considerably, Nelson Mandela embraced leadership qualities that made him an effective leader. Such leadership traits developed from his background experience as a lawyer and an active member of a political party. Some of the essential leadership traits that Mandela portrayed included integrity, determination, self-confidence, and being visionary (Northouse 59).
Therefore, President Mandela’s actions portrayed the social perspective of a leader. First, he understood the importance of establishing a multi-racial society as the only means of achieving social harmony. Through such an approach, he set his country into a reconciliation model that aligned well with his goals and dreams of the entire nation. As such, he was determined to align his country into a path of prosperity by collectively urging South Africans to work together to achieve socio-political and economic success (Freiberg n.p). He also portrayed a greater understanding of the apartheid regime, thereby using emotional intelligence to bring about change.
Secondly, Mandela’s effective leadership can also be viewed by examining how he related to his followers and the apartheid regime. Notably, his experience during incarceration shaped the decision-making process that made him stand out as a true champion for a cohesive society (Freiberg n.p). He stood out as a man of integrity by championing the vision of his country to end polarization and segregation along racial lines. Madiba demonstrated self-confidence in enhancing the positive interpersonal relationship among South Africans, a role that gave him Nobel Prize recognition. Such actions portrayed him as a man who valued integrity to improve the interpersonal relationship among people and to create a conducive environment for racial harmony and co-existence.
Considerably, there are several lessons we learn from the life and leadership traits of Nelson Mandela. First, he teaches us that we can be victims of the situation; however, we can decide to liberate ourselves or maintain the status quo. Therefore, it is possible for a leader to be determined and have the self-confidence to achieve course without compromising on the moral principles and values (Northouse 63). Furthermore, Madiba teaches us the importance of personal integrity as a requirement of establishing a conducive work environment in a multi-cultural environment. Lastly, the interpersonal relationship plays are significant in any leadership development program. Even though the road to freedom was messy; the right strategies and tactics made it easier for Mandela to bring expected changes without compromising on his principles. Similarly, to be effective leaders, there is a need to establish a balance between our individual needs and need of others in society. Through such an approach, we can evaluate our leadership style and embrace the positive traits that can help us in solving problems in our communities or organization.
Northouse, Peter G. Leadership: Theory and practice. Sage Publications, 2018.
Freiberg, Jackie. “Madiba Leadership: 5 Lessons Nelson Mandela Taught The World About Change”. Forbes.Com, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/ kevinandjackiefreiberg/2018/07/19 /Madiba-Leadership-5-Lessons-Nelson-Mandela-taught-the-world-about-change/#4d5c770a41ba. Accessed 12 July 2019.