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The Power of One: Insights of Leadership from Nelson Mandela

photo of Nelson Mandela  

Guide Them From Behind

While walking across the hills above his village some years back, Nelson Mandela recalled a lesson from his youth...

"When you want to get a herd to move in a certain direction," he said, "you stand at the back... A few of the more energetic cattle move to the front and the rest of the cattle follow. You are really guiding them from behind."

With a smile he added, "This is how a leader should do his work."

"The Making of a Leader"
by Richard Stengel


He stands. Silence comes. He speaks. He is heard. His message is clear and truthful. Change will not reshape current realities overnight... we bear the responsibility for creating a new and different future. A man who describes himself as "an ordinary man" has touched the world with presence, courage, commitment to mission, and a leadership example that we so longingly need for inspiration once again. It is not intended that we will capture his essence or tell his story. It would be impossible to do his life justice in a few words, but in a small way our intent is to honor him and the many talented people that have opened his legacy to the world through their writing and other collections. We pay tribute to Nelson Mandela by sharing three leadership lessons to inspire your action:

1. Speak the truth.

"I try not to be a rabble rouser. People want things explained to them clearly and rationally. They recognize when someone is speaking to them seriously. They want to see how you handle difficult situations and whether or not you stay calm."
---Nelson Mandela, "The Making of a Leader" by Richard Stengel, Time

2. Accept your responsibility as a leader---let your light shine.

Quoting Marianne Williamson, he brought new light to these words... "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. ...Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightening about shrinking, so that other people won't feel insecure around you... As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
---Nelson Mandela, Excerpts from Inaugural Speech

3. Leadership is a lifetime journey.

"I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are so many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended."
---Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Thank you, Nelson Mandela ... we honor you. You have taught us all about the "power of one."


Long Walk To Freedom cover  



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