Hello to everyone
Hope my latest post finds you well
Have you ever wondered why some people have a greater influence than others?
Have you ever wondered how people become leaders?
Have you ever asked yourself: ‘How can I tell if I am a good leader, or perhaps even a great one?’
‘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
What a description of a leader!
I hope most of you will agree that Nelson Mandela is a shining example of what a leader should epitomize. His positive impact not only inspired his country but the minds, hearts, and souls of billions across the world.
We could speak endlessly of his courage, principles and his commitment to righteousness, his contributions to the African continent, his suffering and sacrifices, his humble roots and his too-numerous-to-mention accolades.
However, what he is a supreme example of is how to be a leader.
In broad terms leaders fall into two categories, tough or nice.
If you’re tough — a “driver” — you can push people to go beyond the limits of their abilities.
If you’re nice — an “enhancer” — you can better understand the needs, problems, and concerns of your charges.
It’s a hard choice and therefore being a leader is not straightforward.
Being successful is not easy, being a leader is not easy, and not getting torn down by negative influences is even harder. My coaches and mentors have told me that there is a lot of room at the top, but it’s the bottom that’s crowded. We have two choices in life; we can either live in an ocean of sameness or a lake of differentiation.
Which one do you choose?
It’s your personal choice, no one can make it for you, so be wise in your decision.
So what does it take to be a leader?
Here are 6 of Mandela’s transformational lessons that could turn you into the next leader.
1. Be a Visionary
‘Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for – because unless we stand for something we shall fall for anything’ – Peter Marshall
A clear vision helps you pursue dreams and achieve goals; an idea of the future, a strong wish. A vision that is clear will open your mind to the endless possibilities of the future.
Make a mental picture in your mind, add feelings and emotions to that mental picture, envisage taking every step to its completion, give thanks like you’ve already received your wish and keep the emotions parallel to the vision. Do the things that will contribute to your vision and in time it will manifest.
Being a visionary will help you to overcome obstacles and hold on when times are tough. A vision that is well defined helps you to focus and create a purpose that becomes your measurement for your success. A strong and compelling vision is in line with your values, interests and desires. It connects with your passions and greatest potential giving you the edge in bringing it into reality. You feel much more valuable as a person when you set and achieve visions and goals.
You can see that being a visionary is key to success throughout your life. It determines whether you win or lose. Vision gives you a glimpse of your inner potential. Being a visionary is 50% mental completion process and 50% physically acting towards that vision. This mental completion process requires that you see with your mind and not with your eyes, the reason for this is that what you see with your eyes can contradict and potentially compromise your vision and therefore your goal.
Remember that vision is something you will actually achieve. You should follow the law of taking action. Action is not something you say but rather something you do. So get off your ASSETS and make something happen. Leaders ooze action, they move mountains, plough through obstacles and refuse to take no for an answer. They don’t sit on the couch waiting for the world to come to them. They are visionaries and they make their lives happen.
2. In leadership, character is more important than strategy
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf once defined leadership as a potent combination of strategy and character but, he said, if you ever have to be without one, be without the strategy. Some of Mandela’s questionable strategies and decisions could easily have led to his political undoing but his strength of character as a leader compensated for occasional lapses of judgement.
Where did Mandela develop his remarkable resolve and character as a leader?
These qualities emerged early during his school-years. His anti-apartheid convictions resulted in expulsions and continuous strife with school authorities. Despite consistent misdemeanours he made it into law school, passed the bar and went on to establish the most successful black law firm in South Africa – a remarkable feat in those days. Eventually, he would serve 27 years hard labour. In his later years in prison– he was finally released in 1990 – he was offered his freedom if he would renounce his commitment to armed struggle. He refused.
3. Be prepared for Short Term Sacrifice
Leaders know that one of the key ingredients to success is short term sacrifice for long term success. They evaluate their cost opportunity before taking any decision to ensure that the benefits gained will be worth more than the sacrifices made. However, everyone needs to sacrifice something; this is part of the journey of life.
Think: if Mandela could sacrifice 27 years of his life for the greater good of the South African people, I am adamant that you can lay off all the distractions and temptations that are stopping you from achieving your goals. Here is a valuable tip: Resist temptation and stay strong because the sacrifices you make now will bear fruit for the rest of your life.
4. Make Gut based Decisions
Every leader makes decisions fast. There are 3 ways to think: with our mind, heart and gut.
When you think with your mind, the more reasons you are going to find not to do something. This is called analysis by paralysis.
The second way is to think with the heart. These tend to be emotionally based decisions not driven by logic or reason but something that is hard to describe. Many people have been burned doing this.
The third way is to think with your gut. Research has shown that intuition – a feeling that something is right or wrong – is one of the ways our brains store, process and retrieves information. The brain draws on past experiences and current external cues to make a decision; a process so rapid that the reaction is subconscious. This is why when we make a decision with our gut we are often right but once our brains and hearts become involved things start to get cloudy.
Remember the lesson here is to make decisions on the spot and then you can re-evaluate them. Entrepreneurs don’t say I have to think about it, they make a decision and then they re-evaluate it.
5. Be Innovative
Leaders are innovative, continually thinking forward to the next trend or invention. If you don’t keep asking yourself how do I cut through the clutter, how do I differentiate myself… there is little chance you will ever succeed and even less become a leader.
Remember how you change is how you succeed and if you don’t, you will never truly live the life you want and you deserve.
Remember there is someone behind you who is looking at taking your place in the market.
6. Be Humble, Forgive & Give
He also understood the power of forgiveness. Despite 27 years in prison, he emerged with his sense of justice intact — but no discernible bitterness. He maintained his faith in people no matter what, that people would come right in the end, he said. He was in a prison for something he didn’t do and when he came out the first thing he did was forgive the person that had put him there. The world is a challenging and cold place at times, seeing through that and trying to make a difference is difficult but a great leader cannot hold grudges.
Mandela was a humble man. He didn’t cling to power. He empowered. He announced during the election that he would serve only one five-year term – a remarkable action not only in Africa, a continent riddled with corrupt leaders who refuse to cede power, but also for someone who had waited so long and given so much to reach that position. A leader has to be better than his detractors, he has to be humble and not allow his ego to get in the way. He has think of the greater good. He has to freely share with the world his knowledge, experience, expertise and acumen.
He was a courageous and resolute leader. His character and visionary actions, stamina and resilience were profound. Yet, his most enduring legacy will not be the things he did, but what he didn’t do, he was the pattern breaker and refused to succumb to the seductive pull of revenge and the politics of hatred that infected large parts of the anti-apartheid movement. As a consequence, South Africa was saved from a grizzly civil war that would have torn the nation apart. That will be his greatest legacy.
Nelson Mandela played his role magnificently and we can learn great lessons from his life. He served as a role model, conveying messages through his personal actions and his words about what kind of behaviour, what kind of culture, would characterize the new South Africa he envisioned.
But now it’s time for a new generation of leaders to emerge, leaders willing and motivated to empower and develop other leaders to confront corruption and transform institutions for good. Great leaders create great leaders.
Mandela’s legacy is larger than racial justice and more widespread than his country or continent. His legacy lies in the lessons about leadership he left for all of us. His goal was to change not only laws but behaviour.
What is your greatest legacy?
You are the only person that can honestly answer this question.
There is a potential leader inside us all. Leadership is something that is contagious and spreads for the greater good of us all. There is no perfect manual on how to be a great leader but rather great people we look up to and try to emulate in our own way. I know personally that if it was not for my coaches and mentors, I wouldn’t even be writing this article.
This is one of my favourite quotes: ‘There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.’ – Nelson Mandela
Life is full of choices. And each of us has the choice of how we want to impact the world. Some choose to leave the world a worse place than they found it. Some choose to leave it the same as they found it. Some choose to leave it a much better place.
Which one is your choice?
You have the power beyond measure to achieve what you want and to become the next leader of tomorrow!
To the discovery of your inner leader
Double Winner Awards Author of ‘The book on Success‘