For the last few weeks, I've been chipping away at the Richard Stengel's book Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage. Nelson Mandela has always been a fascinating figure to me. This was my first effort at looking at his leadership style more up close. Stengel, the author, served as Mandela's biographer and watched him up close over time. There are 15 lessons given in the book. About half of the fifteen lessons were "Mandelan" (i.e., Lead from the front and lead from the back). However, many of them were those I wouldn't have expected from someone like Mandela. Among them are:
- Look the part.
- Know your enemy.
- Keep your rivals close.
- Quitting is leading too.
- It's always both.
As to what he means by each of those, you'll do well to get the book. It's a very easy read…but I'll put some more thoughts up tomorrow. As a Christian, I admit I had to wrestle with some of these…and found there is a Christian perspective on each.
Here are a few quotes from one of the world's great leaders to chew on today as you think about your own leadership style:
- "'I can pretend that I'm brave.' In fact, that is what he did. And that is how he would describe courage: pretending to be brave. Fearlessness is stupidity. Courage is not letting the fear defeat you."
- "Pretend to be brave and you not only become brave, you are brave."
- "The African model of leadership is better expressed as ubuntu, the idea that people are empowered by other people, that we become our best selves through unselfish interaction with others."
- "You go straight to their hearts. It was an echo of something else he had famously said about the art of persuasion: "Don't address their brains. Address their hearts." This is true in many arenas of our lives—whether we are trying to persuade a colleague to see our point of view, win someone's vote, or attract new customers. If you want to make the sale, address the heart.
It's a fascinating read that will push your thinking written for the common man. More from Mandela tomorrow.