Learn to be Nelson Mandela!

Find Your Inner Mandela: A Tribute and Call to Action!

20131205_5

HBR – Find Your Inner Mandela: A Tribute and Call to Action

 

Don’t just mourn Nelson Mandela. Learn to be Nelson Mandela.
He was the consummate turnaround leader.

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He knew that he was an icon and shaped a culture for others. His goal was to change behavior, not only laws. The head of what was then Daimler Chrysler South Africa, who had returned to his native South Africa after apartheid ended, motivated a hostile, unproductive black work force by engaging with them in their dream of building a Mercedes for Mandela. This was all about culture, not about financial incentives. People raised their aspirations because Mandela encouraged them.

He also understood the power of forgiveness. Despite 27 years in prison, he 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.

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Mandela’s legacy is larger than racial justice and more widespread than his country or continent. His legacy lies in the lessons about leadership he left for all of us. We can pay tribute by channeling him: Discouraged because things don’t break your way? Consider Mandela’s 27 years in prison. Unwilling to give up the perqs of power? Recall Mandela’s no-more-than-five-years promise. Tempted to crush the competition, eviscerate enemies, or publicly humiliate those who make mistakes? Find your inner Mandela, forgive, and move on.

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