Nelson Mandela and His Leadership Qualities

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Nelson Mandela and His Leadership Qualities

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Table of Contents

  • Aim
  • Introduction
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Leadership Analysis
  • Outline of the Leader
  • Mandela as a President
  • Leadership Style
    Visionary Leader
    Charismatic Leader
    Transformational Leader
    Democratic Leader
  • Analyses and Comparisons Between Leadership Styles
  • Leader Competence Areas
    Personal Characteristics
  • Leaders' Performance vs. Followers' Satisfaction
  • Advantages in Today's Environment
  • Lessons Learned and Recommendation
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Conclusion
  • References


The aim of this paper is to analyze the leadership qualities of Nelson Mandela and with regard to their applicability in the present context.


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Nelson Mandela

In the 20th century, many countries in Asian and Africa were conquered and colonized by western nations like Dutch, British, Portuguese, Spaniards, and French. South Africa was under Dutch rule before the minority British took over the government. The white minority exploited the native Africans and got them to do all menial work on their agricultural farms and industrial projects. The natives were treated as inferior to the whites. They were segregated. This racial discrimination was termed apartheid.

The young educated African realizing the gravity of the situation organized themselves to oppose all repressive laws and for their fundamental and human rights. Nelson Mandela was a guiding star of this movement. He was a living embodiment of the ideal and aspiration of the black people. He became a legendary figure in Africa and abroad. Mandela was a man of action, master in underground activities. He cleverly evaded the state police, which earned him the name Black Pimpernel. He brought the works, peasant, women, and youth into one united movement to fight for the oppressed and exploited natives. He encouraged his people to continue fighting until they Strive freedom and never giving up until they achieved their goal. On the other hand, as a significant leader, he elevated the consciousness of his followers by appealing to their higher ideals and values.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of treason and sabotage. He served 27 years of his precious life in jail. The white minority government realizing that the black protest movement could no longer be quelled through force lifted the ban on the ANC and released Mandela from prisons. Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize with K W De Klerk for successful negotiations to end the evil of apartheid. He was inaugurated the first black president of South Africa on 10 May 1994.

In this essay, the Leadership qualities of Nelson Mandela and how he applied the same until South Africa achieved the Freedom from the evil of apartheid and the end of his career are discussed.

Leadership Analysis

""It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership"" (Nelson Mandela)

Outline of the Leader

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela by name Madiba, a leader of the South Africa Anti-Apartheid movement was born in a village near Umtata in the Transkei on the 18 July 1918. His father, Chief Henry died when Nelson Mandela was only twelve years old.

He went to a school of a local missionary. Because of holding anti-government and anti-state views at a very young age, Mandela could not remain in the school for very long. He was rusticated and removed from the school. He went to Johannesburg and managed to get a job as a gold mine policeman. While doing the job he followed a correspondence course at the University of South Africa and obtained the Degree of Bachelor of Arts. Nelson after studying for his LLB at Witwatersrand University graduated in Law and qualified as a Solicitor.

His political interest and views of resistance were aroused while he listened to the elders of his tribe in the village. The tribal leaders would relate stories of the past as to how they used to fight heroic wars in defense of their country, as well as the acts of valor performed by the leaders and soldiers during those epic days. The qualities of leadership and desire for freedom within him aroused the spirit of resistance. He hoped and vowed that he would sacrifice the pleasure of life but he would not lose the opportunity of serving his people by restoring to them the freedom, which they had during the pre-colonial days. In spite of such liberal views, he was not free from the tribal customs. He was circumcised at the age of 16 on the bank of his tribal home. Paramount chief of the Tembuland, who looked after him after the death of his father, married him to a fat and dignified girl from a royal family.

During his stay at Johannesburg and at the university, that he felt the agony of racial discrimination and color bar. He saw men of his color fighting for equal rights and rights and freedom of movement. At the age of 25, he joined the African National Congress in 1944. When the congress Youth League was formed and the concept of African Nationalism was under transformation, gave Nelson an undeterred opportunity to show his inherent leadership and dedication to the cause for which the ANC was formed. He was one of the accused in the massive treason trial at the end of the 1950s and following 1960, banning of the ANC, he went underground.

It was during this time that he together with other leaders of the ANC constituted a new specialized form of the liberation movement, ""Umkhonoto We Sizwe"" (Spear of the nation), as an armed nucleus with Mandela as its Commander-In-Chief.

The group attempted to drive home the seriousness of their intentions to achieve equal rights for all races in South Africa by attacking government buildings, evading injury to people, and for his part in the defiance campaign; Mandela was convicted under the suppression of communism Act and given a suspended prison sentence. Shortly after the campaign ended, he was also prohibited from attending gatherings and confined to Johannesburg for six months.

During the whole of him fifties, Mandela was the victim of various forms of repression. He was banned, arrested, and imprisoned. After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, the ANC was outlawed, and Mandela put on trial and detained. The treason trial collapsed in 1961 as South Africa was being steered towards the adaptation of the republic constitution. Mandrel's activities at the time forced him to hide from South African authorities. In 1962 Mandela left the country illegally and traveled to several countries. During this trip, Mandela, anticipating from the south, began to arrange guerrilla training for members of ""Umkhonto We Sizwe"" When he returned home, the police were tipped off about his hiding place and Mandela was arrested, convicted of incitement to riot and leaving the country without a passport. He was sentenced to five years in Jail.

While in prison doing hard labor he has tried again for his involvement in ""Umkhonto We Sizwe"". Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment. In the winter of 1964, Nelson Mandela started his prison years in the notorious Robben Island prison. He spent 18 years out of his 27 prison years in Robben Island. Mandela served just over twenty-seven years as a political prisoner as the rest of the world demanded his release. While Mandela was in prison growing anti-apartheid forces in South Africa argued that he should be freed. Mandela flatly rejected offers made by his jailers' remission of sentence and again he rejected an offer of release on condition that he renounces violence.

In July 1989 PW Botha, former president of South Africa met Mandela in prison, and in December the same year Botha's successor, FW de Klerk held an important meeting with Mandela in prison. The very next year Mandela was released and the ban on ANC lifted. He was inaugurated as the first democratically elected State President of South Africa on 10 May 94. He was the country's first black president. The country's National Assembly elected him. The assembly had been chosen in South Africa's first free election in which the blacks were allowed to vote. Blacks won a majority of the Assembly seats. This development marked the beginnings of a new era in South African politics, thus blacks gained control of the government after a long period of white domination.

Mandela as a President

On 27 April 1994, Nelson Mandela won the first democratic elections which were held at South Africa by obtaining .62.65 % of the vote. At the age of 77, Nelson Mandela elected as the first dark president of the country on 10 May 94. During the time of his presidency, Mandela also worked to safeguard South Africa's economy from downfall. During the first period of his presidency, he had to overcome the apartheid: poverty, inequalities, unequal access to social services, and uplifting of infrastructure facilities.

The RDP was a South African socio-economic policy, which was introduced by the ANC government of Mandela. It was to address the huge socio-economic problems brought about by Apartheid. Through the RDP, the South African government supported the creation of jobs, housing, and basic health care.

As part of his mission for peace, nation-building, and reconciliation, Mandela used the nation's interest in sports as a significant point to uphold settlement between whites and blacks. During the 1995 Rugby World Cup held at South Africa, he encouraged black South Africans to support the previously hated national rugby team which had been subjected to various problems. It was also the first World Cup in which South Africa was allowed to participate.

Mandela signed into law a new constitution for the nation by launching a strong central government based on majority rule and guaranteeing both the rights of minorities and the freedom of expression. the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa was approved by the Constitutional Court (CC) on 4 December 96. The Constitution was founded on the values of Human self-respect, the success of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms, Non-racialism and non-sexism and Sovereignty of the constitution and the rule of law.

Further, he introduced the Growth, Employment, and Redistribution macroeconomic policy in 96 with the aim of the rapid liberalization of the South African economy. It was included the relaxation of exchange controls, privatization of state assets, trade liberalization, etc. It gave a massive impact on the economy of the country.

In 1999, Mandela retired from active politics. He was called on to help as an independent body for peace agreements in Burundi in central Africa. In South Africa, Mandela followed money-raising drives for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund. Through this fund, he was able to uplift the education of the children by reservation and constructing schools and Classrooms. Such facilities have become known as the products of 'Madiba magic"".

Leadership Style

There are many leadership styles existing in the modern world. Autocratic, Democratic, Transformational, Facilitative, Transactional, Coaching, Charismatic, Visionary, Laissez-Faire, Cross-Cultural, Strategic Leadership, and Team Leadership are some of the common leadership styles highlighted by the business

communities in the world. Having perused the life of Mandela it is observed that the great South African president, applied several types of leadership styles throughout his career with a vision and inspired the others to follow his direction in order to achieve the goals.

Visionary Leader

Nelson Mandela had a vision where he saw an Africa with apartheid being removed and man are being free and equalized. It was this vision that pushed him to do what he should do and it influenced him to trust that regardless he has trust through the period of 27 years in jail. He never surrendered despite the fact that he was detained for twenty-seven years previously being chosen to be the president of South Africa. Furthermore, he developed and outfitted his country to battle for their rights and in particular their opportunity. He encouraged them to battle against the politically sanctioned racial segregation and also persuading them that they could take care of the mistreatment.

Charismatic Leader

Nelson Mandela honed such a style of administration which was affirmed to be extremely effective. While guiding his followers, Nelson Mandela held strong emotional reactions to them. It was the style that held the trust amongst Mandela and his ANC followers when Mandela was detained for as long as twenty-seven years. In fact, this strong emotional reaction gave them a strong belief that they should continue to fight for apartheid and pledge willing obedience to him.

Transformational Leader

As the Volunteer in Chief of the ANC, Mandela traveled around the country and was trying to raise people's awareness and organizing battles against regulation. He encouraged his people to continue fighting until they obtained freedom and never giving up until they achieved their goal. Further, as a significant leader, he elevated

the consciousness of his followers by appealing to their higher ideals and values. In fact, he also encouraged many to educate themselves because adopting education is the key to success.

Democratic Leader

The primary feature of the democratic style of leadership is the encouragement of the participation of all group members to become active stake-holders through the

harnessing of their individual talents. Nelson Mandela finally employed a democratic style of leadership, allowing him to facilitate good communication between South Africa's many and varied social groups and influence an improvement in his nation's political situation.

Analyses and Comparisons Between Leadership Styles

Leader Competence Areas

While campaigning for equality, he was ultimately sent to prison where he would spend the next 27 years of his life. He was confined to a small cell without a bed or plumbing and was forced to do hard labor. As a political prisoner, he received smaller rations and fewer privileges than other inmates. Further, he had a chance to see his wife and two young daughters twice a year. Under this condition also Mandela stayed strong throughout the 27 years.

Nelson Mandela's speechmaking assumed a key part in his campaign. He delivered many powerful and significant speeches during his whole career. He was an incredible speaker who was familiar and could clear himself well. His addresses were assembled with wonderful words and sentences. In March 1990, two months after his discharge from jail, he delivered a speech to 72,000 personnel at Wembley Stadium in London to obtain support against the politically-sanctioned racial segregation. In a simple but powerful statement, he told the crowd ""Thank you that you choose to care"".

Mandela was a man who could forgive his enemy. He even pardoned those that detained him for a long time. Mandela had a willingness to reach out and connect with people who hated and feared him. He even had meals with the man who attempted to kill him. Percy Yutar was the state prosecutor at the 1964 treachery trial at which Mandela was charged and condemned to hard work 27 years. He demanded the death penalty for Mandela. In 1995, Mandela invited him to dinner where they enjoyed a meal. Mandela said that Yutar had only been doing his job and when asked why he was so willing to forgive, he answered ""Hating clouds the mind"".

Nelson Mandela had a sense of humility and always focused on the benefit of others. During the 1995 Rugby World Cup held at South Africa, he encouraged black South Africans to support the previously hated national rugby team which had been subjected to various problems. The country won the tournament with the support and blessing of the whole nation by making a major step in the reconciliation process of white and black South Africans. Further, during his last years, Nelson Mandela became one of the world's most important and effective campaigners against HIV/Aids, bringing more attention to the issue and trying to end its humiliation. Several programs were conducted under the patronage of him. It turned into the most imperative work of his career and he boosted the campaign, by giving his Robben Island jail number, 46664, to highlight this issue and obtain the finances through gigantic global shows.

Personal Characteristics

Mandela had come from a long line of leaders. Born into a royal family in 1918, his grandfather had been a king of the Thembu people. He led South Africa from apartheid to democracy, was a humble, eloquent and inspirational figure who advocated peace, democracy, and human rights. Mandela will be remembered as a man who went beyond the call of duty. He showed his fellow countrymen that it was possible, perhaps even imperative to forgive one's enemies.

Mandela was such a powerful leader during the campaign against apartheid that the white minority government considered him a threat to the state, even from prison. He inspired people around the world to support the anti-apartheid movement. 'Free Mandela' was frequently yelled in protests that were organized by people whole over the world who never met him. He never gave up in the fight against his country's oppressive regime and he did what he told. in 1994 he elected as the first black president of the country as the result of his sacrifice. Mandela led his followers by example whilst inspiring South Africa's political and racial enemies to work together to build a democracy.

Great Leaders are straight forward, open, and transparent. They share their interests and come up with no reasons for supporting the causes they have faith in. Mandela was in actuality so straightforward, his words and actions. Mandela had an awesome consciousness of his method for being, his understanding, quiet certainty, pardoning, and humor all expanded his followership picking up help in accomplishing his objectives and having a beneficial outcome.

Leaders' Performance vs. Followers' Satisfaction

Nelson Mandela had a vision where he saw an Africa with apartheid being eliminated and men are being free and equalized. He never gave up the fight even though he was imprisoned for twenty-seven years. This strong emotional reaction gave Followers a strong belief that they should continue to fight against apartheid and pledge willing obedience to him. As a result of this people around the world support the anti-apartheid movement. As the results of this Mandela led by example, inspiring South Africa's political and racial rivals to work together to build a democracy as the first black president of the nation.

In 1993 Nelson Mandela shared Nobel Peace Prize with FW de Klerk, for successful negotiations to end the evil of apartheid in South Africa as a result of the satisfaction of his dedication and sacrifice by the world. Mandela was the recipient of the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International understanding (1979), Bharat Rattan in 1990, and the World Methodist Peace Award in 2000 as well as in the same year he was presented with the prestigious Gandhi Peace Award.

Advantages in Today's Environment

Studies regarding the life of Nelson Mandela have enabled people to realize what leadership is about. The main thing that we can learn from Mandel's life is that leaders are generally not born but their skills and capabilities are developed with time. The only thing which requires is charisma to be a better leader. In general, Nelson Mandela can be characterized as an excellent leader, with good judgments and listening skills, sensitive and open-minded. He was an intelligent leader who adopted a good strategic plan and clever maneuver in order to defeat your enemies without humiliating them. Motivating and Moral Building of followers, creating

confidence, Coordination, Goal setting, and representation are the main things that we can acquire from Mandela's life which are considered as advantages in today's environment.

Lessons Learned and Recommendation

""The greatest glory in living lies in never falling, but in rising every time we fall"."

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is one of the greatest freedom fighters of the world. He is considered a demi-god for the oppressed natives of South Africa. He dedicated his entire life to the fight against the apartheid and freedom of the blacks. Further, he trained himself in guerrilla warfare and started an armed wing of ANC. Mandela will be remembered as a man who went beyond the call of duty. He showed his fellow countrymen that it was possible to forgive their enemies. He showed people around the world to support the anti-apartheid movement by using the Gandhian style and he was referred to as ""Living Gandhi"".

He never gave up in the fight until he achieved the Goal. Mandela had a great awareness of his way of being, his patience, calm confidence, forgiveness, and humour all helped to increase his followership by helping to gain support in achieving his goals and making a positive impact. He hated none and stretches his hands to his opponents to join him in rebuilding a new and independent South Africa.

The life and the work of Nelson Mandela should be a fine inspiration and an example for the political leaders as well as for the Military Leaders. The social community services carried out by him show his positive attitude and empathy towards the nation and the same had set examples to the younger generations. The most important lesson to be learned from his character is the various leadership styles he possessed. The Life of the Mandela deeply explained that the impossible is nothing, we are responsible to change our life, Power of Education, Importance of the Positive thinking, Live on Purpose and never give up the Life until we achieved to the Destination.


The South African former president Nelson Mandela, byname Madiba conveyed a conclusion to apartheid and had been a global advocate for human rights. A Member from the African National Congress party starting in the 1940s, he was a pioneer of both peaceful protests and armed resistance against the white minority's harsh administration in a racially divided South Africa. His activities landed him in jail for almost three decades and made him the face of the antiapartheid movement both within his country and internationally. He never gave up the fight even though he was imprisoned for twenty-seven years.

Discharged in 1990, he took part in the destruction of politically-sanctioned racial segregation and in 1994 turned into the First dark leader of South Africa. Mandela will be remembered as a man who went beyond the call of duty. He applied several types of leadership styles throughout his career with a vision and inspired the others to follow his direction in order to achieve the goals.

Subsequent to resigning from Political issues in 1999, he remained a committed champion for peace and social equity in his own particular country and around the globe until he died in 2013 at 95 years old.



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