Mandela’s Legacy: Forgive and Lead

My father had the honor of working with Nelson Mandela, a man whom he described as the embodiment of the best that a person can be. With Mr. Mandela’s passing, I would like to reflect on what we as leaders can learn from him. From Rosabeth Moss Kanter‘s Harvard Business Review Blog, “Find Your Inner Mandela:”

Despite 27 years in prison, [Nelson Mandela] emerged with his sense of justice intact — but no discernible bitterness. He maintained his faith in people no matter what, that people would come right in the end, he said. His Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a masterful organizational innovation, permitting people to come forward to admit atrocities and then go forward to make a fresh investment in future improvement. He made the rare transition from revolutionary to statesman. He resisted pressure to simply switch roles from oppressed to oppressor and instead focused everyone on pride in the nation they shared and on working together for larger common goals. His wearing of the colors of the formerly all-white rugby team in South Africa’s 1995 victory over New Zealand was a dramatic healing gesture.

May we all find the strength to forgive, find common ground, empower our people, and do our best to lead with integrity and grace.

A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.
― Nelson MandelaLong Walk to Freedom

Rest in peace, Madiba.

About Michelle Smeby

Michelle Smeby is CEO of wHolistic Change, Inc. with more than 10 years of experience implementing enterprise solutions at Fortune 100 companies. Michelle specializes in helping corporations deliver transformational change.
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