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Secrets of Nelson Mandela’s leadership

Time managing editor Richard Stengel once called him “the closest thing the world has to a secular saint.”

On the occasion of Mandela’s 90th birthday, Stengel shared eight lessons of leadership from the great anti-apartheid leader’s life that were culled from new and old interviews with the former South African president. (Stengel worked with Mandela on his autobiography, ‘ Long walk to freedom

Mandela, of course, had many things to say about leadership over the course of his life, though for many years of it,

“Long speeches, the shaking of fists, the banging of tables and strongly worded resolutions out of touch with the objective conditions do not bring about mass action and can do a great deal of harm to the organisation and the struggle we serve.” (Presidential address to the ANC Transvaal Congress, also known as the “No Easy Walk to Freedom” speech, Transvaal, South Africa, Sept. 21, 1953)

5 leadership lessons:

1/ Lead from front and with love

2/ Forget and forgive

3/ Live for Nobel cause

4/ Create difference by your presence

5/ Conquer yourself.

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realised. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”- Defence statement during the Rivonia Trial, 1964

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – 90th birthday celebration of Walter Sisulu, Walter Sisulu Hall, Randburg, Johannesburg, South Africa,18 May 2002

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Long Walk to Freedom

“You sharpen your ideas by reducing yourself to the level of the people you are with and a sense of humour and a complete relaxation, even when you’re discussing serious things, does help to mobilise friends around you. And I love that.” – From an interview with Tim Couzens, Verne Harris and Mac Maharaj  for Mandela: The Authorised Portrait , 2006, 13 August 2005

“I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists. I tell them that I was also a terrorist yesterday, but, today, I am admired by the very people who said I was one.” – Larry King Live, 16  May 2000

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” - Long Walk to Freedom.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – University of the Witwatersrand South Africa, 2003

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” Long Walk to Freedom

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.” –  From an interview for the documentary Mandela, 1994

“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Long Walk to Freedom

 

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