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The 8 Lessons of Leadership

A Post Dedicated to Nelson Mandela

In honor of Leadership Month, it only makes sense for us to offer our thoughts on one of our most admired leaders— the great Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela LeadershipAt the age of 94, Nelson Mandela has created enough trouble to span many lifetimes. Mandela’s true first name is Rolihlahla.  In Xhosa (one of the official languages of South Africa) this translates to “pulling down the branch of a tree” but its real meaning is “troublemaker.” He liberated an entire country from a system of violent prejudice and helped unite white and black, oppressor and oppressed, in a way that had never been done before. The word “troublemaker” seems all too appropriate.

Mandela has been called, “the closest thing the world has to a secular saint,” but it is likely he would propose that he is instead something much more pedestrian— a politician. He overthrew apartheid and created a nonracial democratic South Africa by knowing precisely when and how to transition between his roles as warrior, martyr, diplomat and statesman.

Author Richard Stengel had the opportunity to discuss leadership with Mandela, and created 8 Lessons of Leadership based on that conversation.  While some of these points may be beyond the scope of the business world, taking the theories and adapting the master lesson to fit one’s own world is not only possible, but it is also incredibly useful both professionally and personally. The 8 Lessons of Leadership also closely align with the teachings we utilize in the Drum Cafe West corporate team building and leadership programs. Today, we invite you to read through the lessons and incorporate them into your leadership style.

Lesson # 1: Courage is not the absence of fear— it’s inspiring others to move beyond it.
Lesson #2: Lead from the front— but don’t leave your base behind.
Lesson #3: Lead from the back— and let others believe they are in front.
Lesson #4: Know your enemy— and learn about his favorite sport.
Lesson #5: Keep your friends close— and your rivals even closer.
Lesson #6: Appearances matter— and remember to smile.
Lesson #7: Nothing is black or white.
Lesson #8: Quitting is leading too.



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