If you haven’t seen the movie ‘Invictus’ yet, I can highly recommend it.   Apart from a truly astonishing performance by Morgan Freeman as Mandela, this movie beautifully depicts the unmatched, absolutely unique leadership style of Nelson Mandela.

Mandela spent twenty seven years in a tiny prison cell on Robben Island for opposing apartheid.  And despite the hardships of this terrible experience, when he was eventually released and elected as South Africa’s first black president, he preached forgiveness and reconciliation.  Imagine that!  Almost 30 years in a tiny cell and he came out ready to forgive the people who put him there.  It takes someone with huge morality and little ego to behave as Mandela did, choosing humanity and unity above hate, anger and revenge.   This is a man who led by example.

As someone who was born in South African and spent many decades of my life there, I marvel at the incredible spirit this man has.  Through the media (or what they allowed us to know) I became aware of some of the  atrocities that he and his family and his colleagues suffered.  I remember the feelings of sorrow and shame I felt.  And the repulsion for the regime that was doing this to the black people.   I have always stood in awe at the incredible inner strength, wisdom and humanity Mandela has, to be able to be better than his captors and behave with such dignity.

So what can leaders around the world learn from this great leader?Nelson Mandela..A Great Leader

It was never about him.  It was about a vision of unity and humanity.

It was not about him.  It was about the future of millions who made up the ‘the rainbow nation’ of South Africa.

It was not about him. It was about going out of his comfort zone to understand the pain and dreams of others and speak to them in a way that resonated with this.

It was not about him. It was about a passion for a greater purpose from which millions could benefit.

It was not about him. It was about replacing judgment and prejudice with tolerance and respect.

Mandela describes how he spent the years in prison reading the literature and poetry of his aggressors so that he could understand them better.   One of his favorite poems,  that inspired him through those many years, is “Invictus.”  The final words of this poem could be an anthem for leaders around the globe:

I am the master of my fate

I am the captain of my soul.

Leaders who are the ‘captain of their soul and the master of their fate’ are leaders, who like Mandela, have the wisdom and inner strength to rise above their egos and lead with true humility.


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