Two weeks ago on 5 Dec 2013, Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest figures of out times passed away at the age of 95. His legacy is one that goes beyond a political heritage and is for all mankind.
As we go through a period of great confusion and challenges both from an economic and social point of view, I see in the life of this man, a source of inspiration for leaders and managers from all walks of life in our times. Indeed, the leaders and managers today have to choose between two postures which Mandela himself faced ….
Indeed, we find two categories of human beings. Those who see the world as it is and those who see it as it could be. It is the same for leaders and managers. There are those who see their employees and teams as they are and those who see them as they could be.
Nelson Mandela was undoubtedly part of the latter category. The footprint that he leaves on the history of his country and the world is living proof. Throughout his life he never ceased to do one thing : see in others and the world what they can be, instead of only viewing their flaws and limitations.
What is the basis of his incredible success? It is essentially a leader who based his actions on one creed – confidence.
When he first formed his government, he was determined to rely on a unity government. In doing so he allowed his former enemies not only to rise above stereotype and ideological conflicts but also to redeem themselves and even be proud of building a future together for the best.
Thus, the leaders and managers our businesses have to choose between these two postures:
Those who see only the flaws and weakness of their teams and therefore fail to develop a culture of trust which ultimately leads not only to a silo mentality and a culture of mistrust between teams and colleagues but also one of fear and deep demotivation.
Capitalize on the potential of your employees and people and the effect that the trust and the empowerment you provide will motivate them to great success despite overwhelming odds.
Herein lies the difference between an enlightened leader and a mediocre one ?
The first lights a path in an optimistic manner, and lead by ability to unite, while the second operates on the old adage “divide and rule” and thus encourages only the dark side, ego and competition within team. If the first model works, it is only for a short period of time, while the second approach will achieve ambitious goals and enable us to achieve great success in facing the challenges of our times.
An enlightened and thoughful leader is characterised by the following qualities which he develops within himself :
- A honest and clear vision of his team and situations, that is to say without without exaggerated pessimism but with realism, optimism and hope.
- A capacity to trust those who do not work as himself, to favor diversity, and end the silo culture that operates in isolation from others.
- A capacity to recognize valuable skills for the company and to give employees an opportunity by empowering them.
- A capacity to unite and lead as a result of his ability to touch others at their innermost being …beyond their social role or job description and beyond labels,
- A capacity to discern the dark side and the best in his team and to transform the energies of distrust and fears to one of involvement and responsibility.
Four centuries after Miguel Cervantes, Nelson Mandela would have agreed with what Cervantes wrote in Don Quixote in 1605 : “ Too much sanity may be madness. And the maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be”.