NelsonMandela as a Theorist
The Social Setting of Mandela 3
Leadership Theories Backgrounds 4
Leadership as a Career 5
Transformational Leadership Theory 8
Analyzing Mandela Leadership 8
NelsonMandela is one of the most inspirational, charismatic, and championof human rights political leaders in South African and in the entireworld. The leadership concept has over the years been developed.Individual leaders, for example Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhihave come up as defenders of social issues during their time. Theyhave stood up against oppression at a time everyone thought it wasimpossible. This essay discusses one of the most prominent leadersthat many people have come to admire during his fight againstapartheid and his idea of liberalism from 1963 to 1999 when hestepped down as the first South African black president. Despite hisarrest and incarceration for over twenty-seven years, Mandela islauded to be a leader who never sought for revenge ratherconcentrated his efforts on the reconciliation process whichtransformed South Africa’s political landscape to what it is today.Liberalism can be defined as a political philosophy that is based onideas of liberty and equality. Liberalism is divided into classicalliberalism and social liberalism. Classical liberalism stresses onthe role of liberty while social liberalism stresses on thesignificance of equality. This essay discusses Mandela and his theoryon liberalism through the look at his leadership during the apartheidperiod.
TheSocial Setting of Mandela
Uponachieving power in 1948, the government of South Africa under theNational Party was majorly composed of white supremacists. Theysupremacist created a policy of racial discrimination under alegislated system controlled mostly by apartheid. According to thegovernment of the time, the black population of South Africa was notallowed to share space with the white population. They were forced tostay in secluded areas designated for the black community and alsouse separate public facilities. Despite the constant fight backs fromthe black community against the apartheid regime, the laws continuedto be in effect for the better part of the South Africa history.
Itis during this discriminatory time that Nelson Mandela was born andraised. Mandela grew up to be a lawyer and a renowned activist inSouth Africa. He led the African National Congress which was thefirst party to have the first black president in South Africa from1994 to 1999 upon the end of apartheid. Mandela rose to fame becauseof his consistent struggle and fight against the apartheid regime inSouth Africa. His fight placed him as one of the greatest worldleaders. This is mirrored as from when he first became the universitystudent leader through his progress as his party’s president tobeing the first black South African President. Despite beingimprisoned for more than twenty-seven years Mandela came out ofprison and pursued for negotiation of a peaceful process that saw theend of apartheid. For his struggle and leadership styles, in 1993Mandela was awarded the Global Nobel Peace Prize.
Tobegin with South Africa is one of the countries that experienced aspecial kind of colonialism. 1SouthAfrica was the one of the first countries that were colonized by theBritish immediately shortly after they had settled and establishedthemselves in America. The country is one of the few that experiencedcolonization from two different colonies with the Dutch claimingtheir place in the country after the British arrival. This led toarmed conflicts between the British and the Dutch and sometimesbetween the colonies and the South Africans. South Africa alsoexperienced settler’s population staying behind long after thedeparture of the imperial powers that colonized it. The complexity inthe countries colonization meant that decolonization took a lengthyperiod considered with other countries. Liberalism was thereforebelieved to only come from the British colony however this is amisrepresentation of the past. This is mainly because there arecertain traditions of humanism that posit individuals as people withvalue and worth to any society. South African’s have also beenfound to have been in connection to the ever evolving world order inmany ways. Most South Africans became liberals during their studiesand religious experiences that allowed them to view the world from adifferent perspective. To further understand the liberalism theory ofNelson Mandela it is important to look at his leadership styles.Mandela’s leadership characteristic exemplifies his theory ofliberalism for the people of South Africa.
Leadershipas a Career
Leadershipas career considers the factors that led to the birth of the leader.It can be used as a means that helps people recognize the conditionsand period of which the leader led. 2Thefactors under which the leader is born are determined by theirhistorical background, their cultural aspects as well as the socialissues that surround their formation. Their historical background isbased on the time the leader was born and raised. 3Itis therefore argued that everyone is a product of their own time. Asfor culture, it is determined by an individual’s ideology, norms,and values placed on them by the community they were brought up in.Finally, the social aspect is determined by the media and the groupswithin the community upon which the leader comes from. All thesefactors are significant in shaping an individual leader andinfluencing their birth. For this reason, leadership as a careershould, therefore, be analyzed through four different stages whichinclude formation, accession, divestiture, and incumbency. Thesestages help people understand the trajectory in leadership and whatshaped their world view. This framework shall be used to analyzeMandela`s liberalism theory.
Theformation includes inputs that leaders receive at an early age. Theinputs are derived from family, church, social media, peers, andschool. It is such inputs that are responsible for raising anindividual’s awareness of what is their expected responsibility tothe society. Analyzing Mandela`s formation, one can identify at leastthree significant factors that were the turning point in the shapingof his liberalism theory. 4Accordingto Mandela, he was inspired by the struggles that his father and KingJongintaba went through during the apartheid period. Mandela`s fatherwas a counselor to the king and a community leader during thisperiod. After Mandela`s father death, the King, Jongintaba took itupon himself to raise him.
Itis during this period that Mandela admired how the king carried hiskinghood. Mandela was especially captivated by the ability of theking to listen to all his counselors before making a decision5.For this reason Mandela saw the need for including everyone inleadership shaping his liberalism theory where he believed everyonewas equal despite their position. Apart from his father and king,Mandela also drew inspiration from other world leaders such asAbraham Lincoln who also contributed toward the formation ofMandela’s liberalism theory. He learned a lot about Lincoln throughthe books he read about him considering Lincoln as one of the bestleaders in the world as he viewed him as a defender of dialogue andpeace. His views on Lincoln persuaded him to believe that violencewas not the option in solving conflict rather persuasion. For thisreason, Mandela’s liberalism theory was marked by negotiation anddialogue with his opponents. His faith was in his opponents seeingthe need to perceive everyone to be equal and accept to have a sitdown with them to come up with a conclusive way to solve theapartheid menace that was eating up on South Africa.
Mandelaliberalism theory was also influenced by the British schooling thathe received. The British system was different from that of the tribeMandela came from. The difference in values significantly impacted onMandela’s behavior and his perception of the world. This led toMandela developing a persona of a simple African and a BritishAristocrat. However, the greatest factor that shaped the liberalismtheory of Mandela was the time that he spent locked up in prison.Before being locked up, Mandela appeared to be an emotionallysensitive and passionate person. But upon his incarceration, he cameback as a more mature and disciplined person. The hard life Mandelaexperienced in prison made him view the world from a differentperspective which sharpened and gave him the strength to view theworld differently as see everyone to be an equal.
Accessioncan be defined as the test stage of leadership. Every leader is oftendisposed to test their ability to lead. Leaders are required to beaware of the opportunities given to them to lead. They must strive toprove that they have what it takes to the kind of leadership theywant to follow. Mandela leadership abilities were first tested atFort Hare University where he was elected to the student`s council asthe president. It is during this period that his liberalism theorystarted to take shape. During his student presidency Mandela saw itnecessary to have both students from the black community and whitecommunity share common places something that went against theapartheid rule. His students presidency would go on to shape hisperception of liberalism where he believed with understandingeveryone would see others to be equals.
Duringincumbency, leaders are not publicly recognized. At this stage, theyhappen to have various achievements and are therefore command respectfrom the authority who by now have identified their influence. It isduring this stage that leaders happen to Bolden more of theirpersonalities. According to multiple kinds of literature that studiedMandela he had important achievements during his leadership careerthat led to authorities recognizing him. These achievements rangedfrom his election as a student leader at the University to the timehe was elected the head of the ANC party and eventually the presidentof South Africa. Considering his background and achievement Mandelafelt it was possible for everyone to achieve something as long asthey had set their mind to it. This inspired his views onliberalization where he felt given a chance anybody can achieve theimpossible. With this he set out to fight for liberalization in hiscountry.
Thisis the stage that represents the end of leadership life cycle. Thereare different reasons that can trigger the end of leadership lifecycle, for example, illness, age, lack of performance, andsatisfaction to having achieved the initially set goal. It is,however, important to note that after this period a leader can chooseto reinvent them and take on a new trajectory. In studying Mandela`sleadership career, one can see him divest in 1997 as the president ofANC and also in 1999 as the democratically elected president of SouthAfrica using age as the reason. Mandela knew age was catching up withhim and there was need for someone to take over the fight havingachieved what he was set out for. This was an indicator of hisliberalism theory where he had faith in others to do the right thinggiven the chance to govern. He did not feel the need to stay in powerdespite insistence from his people. Because of his liberalism idealshe felt it right to have someone else take on the mantle ofleadership in South Africa.
Transformationalleadership happens when there are constant interactions between theleader and his followers. This interaction happens in a form thatboth the leader and their followers are achieving high motivation andmorality. According to Marshal, transformational leadership can besaid to be leadership in which the leader can identify the need forchange, develop a vision that will guide the change via inspiration,and execute the change with commitment. Other scholars argue thattransformational leadership has four significant factors thatconstitute it. 6Theseelements include intellectual simulation, idealized influence,inspirational motivation, and individualized considerations.Idealized influence is the ability of a leader to influence andinstigate respect, trust, and commitment to a basis. As forintellectual simulation, it regards to the leader being highlyeducated and informed. This helps them in finding new ways of solvingissues. Relating to inspirational motivation, the leader must createand share a vision that is geared towards the future. In so doing hemust ensure that he motivates and encourage his follower to achievethe vision. Finally, with regards to individualized consideration,the leader appreciates and recognizes the efforts of their followers.
AnalyzingMandela Liberalism Theory
Whileanalyzing Mandela’s liberalism theory under the scope oftransformational leadership elements, it is not difficult for one toidentify how Mandela’s liberalism was shaped under the requirementsof the elements. For example, in Inspirational motivation, Mandela iswidely praised as a visionary and charismatic leader. This is seen inhis ability to mobilize and inspire South African’s to rise againstthe apartheid regime. Another prominent example that can be used toelaborate Mandela`s abilities is when he together with his friendsmanaged to convince the president of ANC to take action and dosomething for the party before it completely gets marginalized. Thisvision was shared by the member of the ANC, and eventually, it becamethe party`s vision under which every party member was committed toachieving. Through this vision, the party was able to form aprovisional committee league that was used to recruit new partymembers. This brought together the people of South Africa to standagainst the apartheid practitioners by letting everyone who they werethe same as the oppressors.
Mandelais also seen to be someone with charisma and ability to motivateothers to be heroes in their right who can guide the country toprosperity. Mandela`s ability to appeal to others via hisindividualized consideration was also a hallmark of his liberalismtheory. 7Heseamlessly achieved this through his ability to remember people bytheir names in the process infusing warmth and energy and closelyrelating to his followers. From this, we can see how strong Mandel`sliberalism were regarding his interpersonal skills where as a leaderMandela possessed human resource management capabilities, clear andopen communications, listening skills and the ability to lead peopleefficiently. His liberal believes was seen to transform his followersfrom common people into extraordinary people who were ready to fightfor the better good of their country. This ability shows strongliberal views in Mandela which consisted of his ability to inspireothers to greatness.
Withregards to intellectual simulation, Mandela is seen to have theability to be creative and innovative. During his leadership period,Mandela is seen to exhibit an above average memory with the abilityto learn and memorize things quickly. His approach was to considerboth the positive and negative aspects of issues that faced him andstrategically manage them. In so doing he was able to accommodateviews from opposing ends and come up with conclusive decisions thatwould help him steer his liberal belief.
Inas much as Mandela exhibited strong liberal views, as a leader, theconcept of shared vision was often violated during his leadershipperiod. For example, Mandela’s decision to initiate a negotiationbetween the ANC and the government went against the party’s policyon negotiation. The fact that Mandela did this secretly is enoughevidence to show that he was not a champion of shared interest andalways put his interest ahead. His decision to start negotiationbehind the party’s leadership drove the country into even worsesituations. Chaos and civil wars broke out as some of ANC members didnot appreciate his attitude towards the party’s leadership andauthority. 8However,the punitive social and political situation of that era and thecontinuous growth of ANC placed the government under significantpressure. During this period Mandela used his visionary ability andknew the government would not reject a proposal to startnegotiations. Eventually, Mandela managed to bring the government tothe negotiation table. His arguments, trying to convince his fellowprisoners and the leadership of ANC that the time for negotiation wasnow did not bear fruit and he was forced to start the negotiationsalone. This led to Mandela going against his liberal view ofinclusivity.
Italso portrayed Mandela not to be a transformational leader as heargued his reason to start the negotiation alone. He claimed he knewthat the leadership of the party was not privy to the negotiation andthat they would not allow him to continue with his proposal. He knewthe leadership would kill the proposal even before it started. Thiswent against the standings of liberals as they do not look atthemselves rather they consider others before they make theirdecision. Mandela also considered the initiative of entering into thenegotiation as his own instead of the party’s initiative. This sortof thinking is avoided at all cost by liberals. They require thatleaders consider groups desire instead of personal desires. Liberalsdemands leaders to share their vision and inspire their following tobe involved and accept the vision as a mutual goal. However, readingMandela`s autobiography or interviews Mandela is seen to boost theidea to enter into the negotiation as a personal endeavor9.He tried to justify his action by stating that had the negotiationsgone wrong the ANC would have someone to blame for the failure. Hissupporting argument can also be used to claim that if the negotiationhad gone according to plan, then the party would also know who to puttheir praise on. However, the liberalism theory demands that leadersand their followers share responsibility and rejoice in victorytogether while they take blame for failure together too. Both thesuccess and failure of the group`s action belong to the group and nota single person.
Mandelaalso exhibits habits of making decisions on his own. In as much as hebelieved in collective leadership, he had a weakness and felt thatleaders needed to decide and take actions without much consultations.More often than note Mandela`s personality clashed with theleadership and political trends of his party leading to multipleinternal conflicts with the ANC. Based on this argument one canassume that Mandela wanted to act alone in negotiating with theestablishment. It can also be assumed that he wanted to be theprotagonist during the negotiation process and that he wanted to takethe credit for the success of negotiation and be seen as the onlyperson who promoted change in South African destiny.
Inconcluding the essay critically analyses the liberalism theory ofMandela in the perspective of his transformational leadership andleadership as a career. The essay analyses formation, divestiture,incumbency and accession as factors that contributed to the growth ofMandela belief of liberal leadership and society. The essayillustrates the great characteristics of Mandela transformationalleadership and also criticizes his wrongdoing at the time. Like everyhuman being, Mandela had areas of weaknesses as explained in thisessay where people might see that he failed as a liberal in as muchas his actions were meant for the greater good of South Africa.Mandela is shown to have been inspired by his father and other leaderaround the world showing how believes are shaped. His education alsodevelops his liberal ideas indicating the importance of education inthe society. Mandela education opened up his mind making him see theworld from a different perspective. Despite his shortcoming, there isno denying the great leader Mandela was and how his decision led tothe liberation of South Africa. His retirement from presidency citingage was the ultimate liberal character that Mandela showed knowingthat he was not the only one that was meant to lead South Africa.
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1 Elaine S. Marshall, Dr. Elaine Marshall Ph.D. RN, and Elaine Oden Kockrow MS RN, Transformational Leadership in Nursing: From Expert Clinician to Influential Leader (New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, 2010).
2 John Adair, Develop Your Leadership Skills: Develop Yourself as a Leader Lead at a Strategic Level Grow Leaders in Your Organisation (Creating Success) (Philadelphia: Kogan Page, 2010).
3 Read, James H., And Ian Shapiro. 2014. "Transforming Power Relationships: Leadership, Risk, and Hope." American Political Science Review 108, no. 1: 40-53.
4 Laaren Brown and Lenny Hort, Nelson Mandela (DK Biography Series) (New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2006).
5 Read, James H., And Ian Shapiro. 2014. "Transforming Power Relationships: Leadership, Risk, and Hope." American Political Science Review 108, no. 1: 40-53.
6 “Home,” February 13, 2014, accessed December 10, 2016, https://sites.psu.edu/leadership/2014/02/13/nelson-mandela-as-a-leader/
7 Richard Stengel, Nelson Mandela, and Nelson M, Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2010).
8 John Adair, Develop Your Leadership Skills: Develop Yourself as a Leader Lead at a Strategic Level Grow Leaders in Your Organisation (Creating Success) (Philadelphia: Kogan Page, 2010).
9 Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J. "From a ‘terrorist’ to global icon: a critical decolonial ethical tribute to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela of South Africa." Third World Quarterly 35, no. 6 (July 2014): 905-921.