Effective Leadership Practices – Nelson Mandela

Peter Drucker defines leadership as the art of doing things right. As a proponent of change and political emancipation in the apartheid South Africa, Nelson Mandela is the ensemble of leadership in its real sense. According to Mandela, the state of segregation based on race was not the right measure of governance and leadership in a progressive and democratic setup. He thus chose to fight for that which he believed was right, proper and equitable representation irrespective of color and racial background. As a black scholar, he envisioned a country where the present individuals could be treated fairly and equally. This is the basis upon which the African icon whose legacy lives to date was based.

As both a political and later a philanthropic leader to be emulated over the years of his life and reign, Mandela portrayed the three level model of leadership whereby he had an ostensible personal role and an outstanding public life and role. Mandela’s inner level presence was molded around a loyal family and a privilege of education in a time when the same was not universally available. (Eredith, 2010) These early skills served to prepare him for his later public life, especially the legal training. In the public domain, the man presented himself as a vocal and uncanny fighter who crusaded for the change in status quo against all odds.

A figure that arose in black Africa at a time when the plight of this group was subjugated by the ruling whites, Mandela stood for an issue that was an agenda of every black African of the time for decades. He ventured to push an agenda that many others could not risk their welfare and portfolio for. Additionally, he put the plight of others before his own, citing the fact that he was an accomplished lawyer and a family man, attributes whose standing he put at stake. By pushing the plight of common black citizens, he stood for an issue that brought together masses upon the same shared vision of a non-partisan country where color was not an issue of leverage.

In a time when rebellion and opposition to the reigning regime was a recipe for trouble, he stood out to fight for that which he believed was right. The same was at a detriment of his welfare and that of other dependents around him. For instance, the young family that Mandela had just founded was left to fend for itself while he ventured into the process of activism. The course of resistance and activism was not easy(Judge, et al., 2002). There was always a constant threat of harassment and arrest for him and other participants. Consequently, he had to make use of innovative and sly methods of evasion and organization. Some of these antics involved circumventing of the law and the use of other means that cannot be described as conventional.

The journey towards liberation could not by any definition be described as easy. As such, the quest could not be ventured into alone. The power of unity and mass participation can be highly attributed with the momentum that was achieved during the course of struggle. In the journey of activism and the fight for freedom, there are a number of other individuals that also played a pivotal role in aiding his quest(Scouller, 2011). The input of Steve Biko and Desmond Tutu was a crucial input that served to compound on the black struggle and attracting the attention of various vested groups. The insurmountable input that such individuals put into the struggle had a significant effect on the results that could be reaped from the struggle thereafter.

The era of black struggle that Mandela put upon himself to lead inspired a sense of charisma and philanthropy that he has been associated with all his life. The course of struggle brought with it masses that joined the bandwagon that was pushing for political changes in the then state of South Africa. The sense of action in Mandela as a leader of the struggle for change thus inspired others to assume a similar role in struggle(Chemers, 1997). As a leader, he assumed a role that others strived to emulate for the better good and want to be associated. As such, he inspired others around him towards a common good.

One of the most notable attributes that Mandela can be associated with has to be his sense of humility. Even in the wake of victory against black struggle and the achievement of independence for his country, he did not go ahead to own it alone. As a leader in all its definitions, he went ahead to give credit to the other people who played a role in the achievement of the same(Stogdill, 1948). The same spirit was translated into the position of leadership that he assumed thereafter. In the true sense of leadership, he served and left a democratic space that has grown the country into what it is currently. The same has been further translated into economic and social strides in the same direction.

There are a number of significant impacts that can be directly attributed to the leadership and continual presence of Mandela in South Africa and even Africa at large on the public domain. Out of public office, Mandela has acted to touch lives through inspiration and philanthropic efforts. Further, Mandela is a leader who in his life could be described as practical and hands-on(Chemers, 1997). This is an experience that communicates how his efforts and acts worked to resonate with the common people’s lives. Further, the jail experience and the humble interaction that characterizes the whole of Mandela’s life is an aspect that communicates the nice rapport that exists between him as a leader and the people.

The elevated position that Mandela has occupied and played as a role for decades in the continent and the world has a bright side and the downside too. As a leader and a role model, he has served to impacted societies, institutions and peoples’ lives across the region. The tenure that he served as head of state also served to create a precedent for good governance that has been replicated over the consequent terms(Eredith, 2010). The level of achievement and success that his life and actions have led to can be noted even in the international platform through the Nobel peace prize that is accorded to outstanding acts of philanthropy and common good. As has been noted, the position of leadership and service comes at a cost too. The family ties tended to disintegrate during his tenure due to a skewed focus on public service and thus inevitable negligence on this side.

The African journey to free rule and emancipation cannot be analyzed without noting icons like Nelson Mandela.  He is a personality that as has been observed many individuals and institutions associate with and would love to emulate. It is thus a matter of common knowledge and choice that one would like to analyze him in a position of leadership. His exemplary life and service to community is a notable combination that characterizes the definition and attributes of positive and progressive leadership(Judge, et al., 2002). As an individual too, it was natural that my choice would be skewed in a similar manner thus.

As has been alluded to in the course of this description, Nelson Mandela was the leader of black liberation in colonial South Africa. He arose from a royal family in the 19th century and led the quest for free and non-partisan leadership, representation, and coexistence in a state with variant race composition (Eredith, 2010). Using a privilege of education and an innate charisma and spirit for fairness, he thrived to be one of the most acclaimed leaders of the continent and the world in this era. His life is an exemplary representation of service built and based on the tenets of leadership.


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