Want to know about leadership? Nelson Mandela has it covered:
“Nelson Mandela embodies the core elements of great leadership, even as he remains a fully human character with flaws and shadows. And he illustrates a profound truth, that we are great not despite our failings, but including them. We cannot pretend to be someone other than who we are, and much of the controlling, rigid leadership we see in the world today is armour against a sense of failure and weakness. His authenticity teaches us, he doesn’t try to be someone else, and he has the emotional intelligence to know who he is. Despite his famous hot temper, he was compassionate and empathetic towards those who imprisoned him, even as he lamented his inability to have a good relationship with some of his family. He is a leader for the whole, never swerving from his vision of a rainbow South Africa. At the same time he is a problem solver, with a pragmatism built on core values that translate into a deeply held personal and professional ethical framework. He is inspired by a purpose that is bigger than himself and his presence, voice and discipline inspire others to be better than they ever imagined. Add to this list patience, perseverance, courage.
As we seek for clues about what happened to Nelson Mandela, how he became so much, we might ponder his favourite poem, Invictus, by the Victorian English poet William Ernest Henley, and the lines that particularly sustained him during 27 years in prison:
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”