His special style of leadership was fueled by an innate inner strength, a deep sense of self-confidence and years of patience locked in an apartheid jail. The defining characteristics of Mandela, who was the right leader at the right time, give us all directions about how to handle conflicts, deal with enemies and play for the long term.- Based on Robyn Curnow’s article:
1. Everyone is welcome:
As a leader, Mandela had an inclusive nature. His childhood passed in the rural area of Eastern Cape. He observed how the tribal leaders attended to the problems of the community which instilled a consensual sense to him to to come into the politics.
In prison and during his presidency, Mandela made sure that blacks and whites, xhosa and zulus, English and Africans, communists and capitalists, had equal right, access and representation.
During Mandela’s time, the inclusion of a broad group of people in decision-making was the purest form of democracy.
2. Listen and wait:
Mandela is legendary for listening to all the points of any argument, taking advice and then making his analysis.
From start to the end, Mandela won not only the psychological advantage but also the ability to close discussion with related parties. Upon discussion he took the final decision.
3. Sometimes do it alone:
“There comes a situation when a leader must lead,” said one of Mandela’s fellow prisoners.
At the end of the eighties, when the South African cities were burning and the security instruments often failed or never seemed stronger, Mandela began to talk and negotiated secretly with the government.
Mandela abandoned his consensus style because he knew that his colleagues from the African National Congress would not agree or would veto any contact with “the enemy”.
Therefore, he did it on his own. Risking, he followed his instinct that it was a good time to negotiate.
4. First impressions count
Mandela was fully aware of the power of the personality. He is tall with imperial appearance and walks completely upright. When he enters a room he fills it with his physical appearance. When he wears his casual silk shirts, he becomes an aura of a wise and mystical guru.
Mandela was selling himself as the “guy to go to” since he was not only a great leader, he also looked like only. It is always fascinating to see how people gravitate towards him in a room. He attracted people like a magnet, even to children who have no idea who he is. He is the “important man” as they say in South Africa, even before he opened his mouth.
5. The media are not the enemy
For a man who was locked away from the world for 27 years, Mandela has a stimulating knowledge of the media. It is not common in an African leader, many of whom continue to see the media with suspicion. Mandela differed with members of his own party for his attitude to believe in press freedom.
Zapiro, the South African political cartoonist, frequently recalls, Mandela told him that he enjoyed his cartoons very much, even though Mandela himself was criticized and caricatured. It is important to note that Mandela knew how to behave before the cameras and manipulate the world of celebrities; He was as relaxed with rock stars as he was with presidents from other countries.
Essentially, he took full advantage of the media to convey an image of openness with the whole world, which helped him win over those who viewed media with suspicion.
6. When it’s over, it’s over
One of Mandela’s most important legacies was his decision to leave the presidency after completing a first term. Very few African leaders have renounced power so easily and quickly. Preaching by example and demonstrating that he was no bigger than his own presidential inauguration, he helped stabilize South Africa’s democratic journey.
It’s a lesson to all that it is as important to bettors as to athletes and CEOs: quit when you’re at the top. Move aside when the game ends. Do what you have to do, say goodbye and keep going. Mandela has not been seen in public in more than a year. He was weak, old and sometimes forgetful. It is never too late to learn from one of the leadership giants of our time.