Much has been written about the great Nelson Mandela and many tributes justifiably bestowed on a man that is a legend in his own life time.
Since it is his birthday this week, I took time to reflect on what it was about the man that was so amazing? Was he simply the right person at the right time? Was it his keen mind? Was it his humility or was it is strength of character? I think all of these have relevance and play a part in making the man we know as Nelson Mandela.
However, what made him a great leader was something rarely mentioned. When faced with the opportunity to change South Africa from white minority rule, he did a number of very clever things.
First he recognized the opportunity and capitalized on it in a constructive manner. It would have been easier to been hateful and filled with resentment from years being imprisoned on an island, but instead he reached out to negotiate a new South Africa.
He also did something very powerful…he took the time to understand the whites, what their fears were and what drove them. Taking the time to understand their issues and their mindset enabled him to negotiate from a position of strength. A great lesson for sales people.
Finally, like Gandhi before him, he knew what he stood for and was true to himself. He reached out to the people and touched them in a very personal way.
Leaders in business, politics and communities should learn these three attributes.
1. Recognize and seize the opportunity – but take the right approach
2. Do your research and learn everything you can about the people you are dealing with
3. Be true to yourself. People recognize someone trying to be something they are not and those who stand for nothing of value
Nelson Mandela….truly an exceptional leader. Not perfect…but always wise. Not a saint…but certainly a man of integrity. It is no wonder that world leaders take his phone calls and professors seek out his company.
To Madiba….Happy Birthday and may you continue to bless us with your presence for many years to come