Make your own free website on

Great leaders continuation.....

Great leaders
Great leaders continuation.....
Traits and motives
Ethics and leadership
Contingency and situational leadership
Transformational leadership
Power, politics and leadership
Communication and conflict resolution skills
Are you a good leader?? Theories of what makes a good leader..
Are you a good leader? (Game)

Two outstanding leaders from two totally different fields

The second leader is a political leader known to be the first democratically elected state president of South Africa and one of the 20th century's greatest leader in one of the most difficult and complex conflicts of that era-apartheid; Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is but an inspirational leader.



Environmental influence and skill development

Born on the 18th of July in 1918 in Transkei, South Africa, the name Nelson, Rolihlahla Mandela was bestowed on him. Rolihlahla was the name given to him by his father and it means "troublemaker", which is very much reflected throughout his life. Like he once said "The struggle" was his "life" and it was a "long walk to freedom". He was the man that dedicated his life to fighting against white domination and that have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society, where there are no or minimal poverty, deprivation, suffering, and discrimination of all types. He believed in equal opportrunities for everyone, something that was non-existant in South Africa at that time (Mandela, "Long Walk to Freedom", 1994). This of course makes us wonder why did he feel such strong convictions to be the hero of the black South African people.

To answer that of course environmental influence have a lot to do with it but first and foremost, a point worth making is that he, himself lived the life of a black South African and he knew what it felt like to be in that position. He knew how it felt to be born in a black only hospital, to go home on a black only bus, to live in a black only neighbourhood and do black only jobs (Mandela, "Long Walk to Freedom", 1994). That maybe can contrast him to many other leaders that want people to follow them yet at the same time they do not know how their followers really feel. Then again that is something that greatly influenced him to take the apartehid struggle then as his own.

Actually he was exposed to such injustices at a very young age. His British name, Mandela, given to him by his British teacher for one was one of the early forms of oppression that he got to experience. As his teacher put it the name Rolihlahla given to him by his father was unpronounceable, uncivilized and hence useless. This of course showed that then the British culture was assumed to be superior and that of theirs inferior (Mandela, "Long Walk to Freedom", 1994).

Another issue that influenced him was the fact that when he was still a young boy , the elders will always tell stories about wars and how the men in the triobe fought in defense of their fatherland. It is therefore because of this proudlt felt African background that also motivated him to make a humble contribution and serve his people in the struggle of their freedom (Mandela, "Long Walk to Freedom", 1994).

Then again as a young boy his life was dominated by chieftaincy and the church. The fact that his life revolved around the christian faith definitely explains his strong morals and deep values. In addition to this when his father died he was adopted by the paramount chief, Jongintaba Dalindyebo, and he watched and learned from the meetings that were constantly held there. At such meetings Mandela saw "democracy in its purest" (Mandela, "Long Walk to Freedom", 1994). The "majority rule was a foreign notion. A minority was not to be crushed by a majority". Moreover we see the perspective of the great leader forming here, and that is one of consensus rather than coercion and the exertion of one's belief over the other,  every one has a voice. Moreover part of the world that he was exposed to was all about equality and fairness, he grew up with such beliefs and that is why he fought for such.

At the meetings he watched as some speakers ramble and never came to a point and those that got directly to it, with a well balanced argument. He observed as some used emotional intelligence to move the audience with their emotions and dramatic languages. He took all of that on board to later become a leader that exhibited the same principles. Inculding listening to everyone's opinion before venturing his own and coming to a compromise (Mandela, "Long Walk to Freedom", 1994).

Amongst these he was also influence by some rather important individuals. One of those was Reverend Harris, he stromgly believed that "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world". Therefore because of that throughout his life he was determined to get an education and he started upon a Law degree at the university of Witswatersrand in 1942, which was quite fitting for his purpose then (Mandela, "Long Walk to Freedom", 1994).

After going to Alexandria in Johannesburg he was further influenced by important individuals such as Walter Sisulu and Gaur Radebe, which were also lawyers and political men. From there his life revolved very much around politics whereby he further joined the African National Congress to create the African National Youth League. He even opened his law office in 1952, which became the first legal black practice in South Africa. Furthermore due to environmental influences that made him who he is, in April 1994, with the help of his struggle, there was the first multi-racial election in South Africa. He therefore eventually achieved his goals despite the fact that he became prisoner 466/64 (Mandela, "Long Walk to Freedom", 1994).

Components of leadership

Through his life history it is evident that Nelson Mandela's leadership style is but a mixture. He for one was a participative leader as he participated in political actions, he was a situational leader as he adapted and adjusted himself to the obstacles that the government kept on throwing at him. He was a visionary leader as he had a future vision of a democratic South Africa, which brings about the fact that he was also a servant as he kept on serving his people and helping them in their freedom even though the struggle was very much his own. A striking aspect of all is his charisma, an adventageous characteristic for a leader; with such, especially his eloquent language he could win over people. However most of all he was a transformational leader for he made history and brought about changes in South Africa.

Strengths and weaknesses of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is a dynamic man, daring to try and oppose the government, determined, intelligent , ardent and most of all inspirational. These are definitely some of his strenghts that makes him stand out from many leaders. However every one has weaknesses and leaders are not without. He for one was reactive rather than proactive. Responding to situations as they arise instead of doing something about it before hand. He resolved to violence at one point and that can very much be questioned. Then again as another one of his weakness he was too involved in the struggle against apartheid that he sometimes lacked objectivity of the situation at hand. Then again there will always be the thoughts at the back of our heads wondering whether changes would have happened in South Africa without him and if it was all politics and the climb to power or were his convictions genuine?