Nelson Mandela: Defining the right leadership

With a vision to create change and form a peaceful nation, built on pillars of values like equality, respect, and justice, Nelson Mandela fought against discrimination at every step of his life and progressed to become the first black democratically elected president of a free South Africa. The way he led his life is beyond inspiring and has re-defined leadership. To honour the legacy, values, virtues, and vision of this great man, 18th July is celebrated as International Nelson Mandela Day. His life exemplifies the impact of the right leadership. As we adopt and adjust to the new normal posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, adopting the vision of Nelson Mandela and following his principles of leadership, can ensure that we build back a better world.

Whether it’s a family, an organization, or any group of individuals working towards a common objective, with the right leadership one can sail through the most violent of storms. Madiba said, “If you want the cooperation of humans around you, you must make them feel they are important – and you do that by being genuine and humble.” Striving towards achieving a solution may involve a difference of opinion and disagreement, but a good leader must ensure everyone feels heard. If people are made to feel important, they develop a sense of belongingness towards the common objective and would go beyond the set boundaries of expectations to tread towards their best. Madiba boils down the essence of conflict resolution in this one sentence “A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.’ Every discussion and debate should strive towards taking the decision that is best towards meeting the goal, but the process must prioritize interpersonal relationships. The differences must limit to opinions.

What makes a leader a great one is their ability to inspire each team member to take a step above their comfort zones and direct individuals towards realizing their true potential. Madiba believed “A leader…is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

To celebrate International Nelson Mandela Day, The Nelson Mandela Foundation encourages everyone to invigorate their inner compassion by dedicating 67 minutes of their time – one for every year of Mandela’s service – to give back to the world around them and make a contribution to global humanitarianism. He believed “It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.” Our Founder, Natasha Mudhar too says “One individual alone can inspire change, and when they join hands with other like-minded change-makers, they can collectively create powerful everlasting MOVEMENTS.” It is time we come together to lead, build, and create the world we truly want.