A constant characteristic of a leader is that they possess an eagerness to learn or to change their situations and the circumstances of others. Nelson Mandela fits the characteristics of the classical leader in the public sector. He inspired people to change. Mandela empowered people in order to realize a transformation. The people of South Africa were able to see themselves benefiting from his ideals.
Modeling Good Leadership Skills
Good leaders Model the way for future leaders, they serve as examples for others in the public sector. Early on the experiences Mandela witnessed would shape his life. As a young child, Mandela had someone to Model the Way for him. He was the son of a chief, and was groomed to serve as a leader. This experience exposed him to wealth and authority. “By attending meetings Nelson learned how to give counsel to a king.” (Deluca 2000, 64) Early on Mandela began to question and review many dark aspects of his society.
As we have discussed previously, all leaders face a turning point in life when they begin to ask questions and eventually Challenge the Process. One must have a challenge to become a leader. Leaders observe when need are not being met and rise to the occasion. (James Kouzes, Barry Posner 2000, 18) Nelson was receiving a rigorous education that would garner anyone in his place, the status and respect of an English gentleman. (Deluca 2000, 64) It was during this time, Mandela search for his own identity began. Nelson joined with students from various backgrounds and was exposed to new ideas. Mandela felt he was being groomed for success. When World War II started many students began to argue that the British had oppressed the African people. The turning point came in his college life.
Hence, the turning point came when students began to express dissatisfaction with food at the university where Mandela was attending. Members of the student council decided to resign and call for a boycott of the new elections, if their needs were not met. (Deluca 2000, 65) Mandela was one of those who decided to resign. Mandela subsequently, faced the possibility of expulsion.
However, the university decided to give him another chance by allowing him to go home over the summer break and review the consequences of his actions. Mandela remained true to his convictions and refused to compromise. (Deluca 2000, 66) An aspect of Modeling behavior, Mandela exhibited. Leaders must be consistent in their behavior and stand by their beliefs. Model behavior fosters respect.
Leaders give a Clear Distinct Voice to Their Values
Leaders must find their voice, and then they must give a clear distinct voice to their values. Furthermore, it is important to set an example, as a leader one must understand that is imperative to do so. Once respect is lost it is hard to gain that respect back. Mandela took his role seriously. The election of 1948 was a pivotal point of history in South Africa. The importance of this election was due to the struggle for Black Freedom and independence. (Deluca 2000, 68) The election led to the introduction of apartheid (segregation). Apartheid was built on with supremacy. In protest, Mandela who was the Youth League president in the ANC African National Congress (ANC) agreed to join South African communists and Indian in a Defense campaign. Mandela was responsible for recruiting volunteers.
Nelson Mandela had a wonderful figure, was handsome, and well dressed. He possessed another trait of leader, charisma. "It quickly became apparent to friend and foe alike that Mandela "was a born mass leader" who possessed a commanding, magnetic appeal." (Deluca 2000,70) The campaign led to the arrest of the campaign’s leaders. These leaders included Mandela. Even so, the campaign had an impact on the ANC.
The African National Congress (ANC) was no longer elitist in nature, but was open to mass participation and ideas. Mandela said he felt empowered by the roll he played in recruiting as well as his roll in the campaign effort. He felt the campaign gave him a sense of dignity. During this time, Mandela and other leaders of the African National Congress were banned. This meant that the government could restrict travel and prevent them from seeking and participating in activism and prevent them from organizing.
Leaders have a Mission and Purpose
The government of South Africa furthered their cause by instituting more laws and restrictions against Black South Africans. Nelson Mandela became increasingly adamant about fighting for equality. Mandela’s idea of equality included black and whites. His life as an advocate for change thrust him onto the political stage. (Deluca 2000, 72) Mandela was now a “freedom fighter”.
Leaders Value Their Base-Constituents
The new leader valued remembering and staying in touch with his roots. Mandela faced the new challenges confronting him and published a series of articles in a journal called, “Liberation” from June of 1953 to May 1959. Mandela exposed the widespread suffering inadequacies placed on Black South Africans. Food disease and medical attention were all lacking in the Black community. Mandela continued his expressions in direct defiance of South African law.
In 1962, he traveled to Addis Ababa and was able to see black people in positions of power and authority. His experience in Addis Ababa opened his eyes to the possibility in South Africa of attaining real equality. When Nelson returned home to South Africa, in August of 1962, he was charged with having left the country illegally and inciting a workers strike. Nelson received a five-year sentence for leaving the country. His sentence also marked the beginning of his international fame.
Mandela was quoted as saying, “nothing is more dehumanizing than the absence of human companionship.” In 1963 Rivonia, the place where the African Nation Congress held their meetings, was discovered. Authorities raided the site and found document incriminating Mandela. Mandela and his colleagues in the ANC were charged with sabotage and faced the death penalty. Evidence against them included guerilla warfare. There were documents that bore the signature of Nelson Mandela. All of Mandela’s colleagues pleaded not guilty. They used the trial to voice their concerns about the inequality of apartheid.
Leaders Demonstrate a Hardy Personality
Mandela was able to demonstrate a truly hardy personality; where most people would have lost their will to live, Mandela flourished. In prison he honed his skilled as a true diplomat. His ability to negotiated in this have environment was awe-inspiring for me. Mandela confronted inhuman conditions, psychological abuse, and the corrupt use of a classification system. He was allowed to write home once every six months. Family members could only meet for thirty minutes. Visits were rarely approved so meetings were significant, because it may be years before he might see his family.
Nelson Mandela was denied the right of attending his mother’s funeral as well as his son’s. What is most extraordinary, is that his resolution to continue to fight against injustice did not waiver. Mandela did not relent when faced with adversity. His persistence paid off he was able to get considerable privileges for himself and other inmates, which included the right to enroll in correspondence courses and study for degrees.
Outside of prison, Mandela was willing to fight for and die for his beliefs. His commitment to his cause endeared him to so many, both black and white South Africans. Where ever he went, Mandela was able to inspire people to take up the cause of ending apartheid. It was apparent that he believed in his goals and the idea that it was worthwhile to fight against inequalities.
Hardy personalities always seem to see past the adversity that is being experienced, and notice that to succeed we must learn from our adversity. A change was coming, 1999 marked a significant turning point in Mandela’s confined life. He would encounter the newly elected F.W. de Klerk NP leader. F.W. de Klerk called for a new constitution. He was elected president in September and ordered the unconditional release of ANC political prisoners. They were allowed to hold a political rally on December 13th and de Klerk met with Mandela to discuss the future of South Africa.
It was apparent to all that Mandela held a significant position of power in South African politics. No one expected the alarming changes about to take place. The Separate Amenities Act of 1953 was repealed and Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for twenty-seven years would be released unconditionally. Mandela noted immediately that after his release, "universal suffrage ... in a united, democratic and nonracial South Africa is the only way to peace and racial harmony."(12)" (Glad and Blanton 1997) Throughout all of his sufferings, Nelson was able to Encourage the Hearts of Others.
True Leaders Value Teamwork
Mandela was a selfless man and did not think in regards to race but in regards to equality. During his years in prison, Mandela became the embodiment of the struggle against apartheid. This impact was felt not only in South Africa but the world. Mandela was admired by people from almost every background and inspired so many people to fight against injustice. He was a charismatic leader to his followers.
Mandela upheld the vision of a new South Africa, which many people could see themselves in. He made a point during the transitional period when power, would not rest solely in the hands of whites South Africans, but in the hands of all South Africans. Suffrage would be extended to all South Africans for the first time Blacks would have say in South African politics. Many white South Africans were fearful at this point in time, assuming that black would come to dominate they society.
Mandela took on the task of reassuring white South Africans that there was nothing to fear and that they would be treated fairly. South Africa was to be a place of peace. The new South Africa envisioned by Mandela was free from black dominance and white dominance over the people. He empowered people to envision the future. "Nelson Mandela's vision of a new regime also suggested a polity in which the government actively promoted the general welfare--of whites as well as blacks." (Glad and Blanton 1997)
Leaders Posses a Clear Vision
A leader must have a clear vision to maintain leadership in the public sector. Mandela possessed such a vision and was able to express that vision in a way that people were able to see themselves in. He was able to forecast the future and give a vision of the possibilities to enable others to act. As a result of his diligent efforts he was able to inspire people to work with him in order to achieve a common goal.
Mandela truly understood the value of teamwork and that by working together you could realize your goals. “He tapped into the hope, aspirations, and emotions, of large populations.” (Glad and Blanton 1997) Mandela was a classical leader in the truest sense. He was willing to take risks personal and political and make sacrifices to secure his objectives.
There has hardly ever been anyone in the last century or before to become transformed from captive into global icon with greater esteem than was Nelson Mandela. He came out strong and competent in mind and will. Most would have lost there determination and I am sure that imprisonment was meant to do just that. It is clear to see that Mandela was destined to rule. As leaders do that are willing to take risks when they see the opportunity. No one is perfect and leaders know that. The difference is that leaders, no matter whether they are on the world stage or out of the public eye, is that they are willing to listen to others and learn from the mistakes.
In the summer of 1990, Margaret Thatcher described Nelson Mandela as a terrorist. The African National Congress (ANC) was a terrorist organization. In 1995, Thatcher led a standing ovation for Mandela at the Great Hall of Westminster. From 1964 to 1982, Mandela was imprisoned at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town, and afterwards moved to Pollsmoor Prison, nearby on the mainland. Mandela was released on February 18, 1990, and soon after suspended the armed struggle. He was the first democratically elected president of South Africa on May 10, 1994. ("Nelson Mandela" 2005, 30)
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