I am sure there are many leadership lessons from Mandela’s life story. Here are a few just from listening briefly to Gary Player.
Mandela was humble. Arriving by helicopter to meet with Player, Mandela greeted him with, “Gary, do you remember me?” On their first meeting Mandela talked about Player and the Grand Slam of golf. He commented after shaking hands with Player that he would not wash his hands for a month.
Mandela was “you” focused, not “me” focused. He understood the importance of talking about the person who he was with, not himself. He made the other person feel special.
Mandela looked forward, not backward. When he emerged after 27 years in prison, he said he felt “no hatred, no need for revenge.” He understood the importance of the message he projected. It was time to look to the future and building a new nation.
Mandela was a sportsman and believed in the power of sports. He was a boxer in his youth. (Actually he loved to run and boxers were among the few in those days who ran regularly.) He believed that sports have the power to change the world and to change people.
Great leaders can be humble and make others feel special by word and deed. They must always look to the future. And I agree that playing sports can be a good method for developing leaders.
Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest leaders of my lifetime. Like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., he rose above and led from the high moral ground. For Mandela it was a pragmatic decision.
Image of Nelson Mandela used with persmission. Image by South Africa The Good News / www.sagoodnews.co.za [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ANelson_Mandela-2008_(edit).jpg