MANDELA’S WAY ~ Lesson No. 4


This is the fourth post in this series of 15 lessons taken from the book MANDELA'S WAY written by Richard Stengel .

EXTRACT : " As much as Mandela loved the limelight , he always knew he had to share it . He understood that some part – quite a large part – of leadership is symbolic and that he was a splendid symbol . But he knew that he could not always be in front , and that his own great goal could die unless he empowered others to lead . In the language of basketball , he wanted the ball , but he understood that he had to pass to others and let them shoot . Mandela genuinely believed in the virtues of the team , and he knew that to get the best out of his own people , he had to make sure that they partook of the glory and , even more important , that they felt they were influencing his decisions .

He explained it in another way ; as the rudiments of herding cattle : 'You know , when you want to get the cattle to move in a certain direction , you stand at the back with a stick , and then you get a few of the cleverer cattle to go to the front and move in the direction that you want them to go . The rest of the cattle follow the few more-energetic cattle in the front , but you are really guiding them from the back .' He paused . 'That is how a leader should do his work .' The story is a parable , but the idea is that leadership at its most fundamental is about moving people in a certain direction – usually through changing the direction of their thinking and their actions .

The African model of leadership is better expressed as ubuntu , the idea that people are empowered by other people , that we become our best selves through unselfish interaction with others . "


  1. Jingle on July 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    beautiful stuff shared.
    unselfish interaction is inded needed to beter understand the world.

    • mish on July 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Absolutely ! The trick as a leader , is to try and win people over … not to dictate ! Thank you for the contribution !

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