Nelson Mandela’s fame rests on his role as a revolutionary leader who spent nearly seven decades of his life in the struggle against white minority rule and for a free and democratic non-racial society.
He was a beacon of hope, and like Gandhi before him, a shining example of what a leader can and should be. He was, above all, a man who was stubborn in his resolve to fight all forms of discrimination, injustice and inequality. He is sorely missed, but as has been said, “When you live on the hearts of those you love, you will never die.”
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The world is in dire need of great leaders, ones who inspire people not through words but by serving them. Here is a list of five vital character traits that Mandela displayed and how these can help boost network marketing superstars to stardom.
1. Courage is not the absence of fear — it’s inspiring others to move beyond it
Nelson Mandela was often afraid during his time underground, during the Rivonia trial that led to his imprisonment and during his time on Robben Island. “I can’t pretend that I’m brave and that I can beat the whole world.” But as a leader, you cannot let people know. “You must put up a front.” And that’s precisely what he learned to do. Pretend and, through the act of appearing fearless, inspire others.
Tip: Leaders are full of self-belief and confidence. They inspire confidence in their organisation and people they work for. Every action they perform must be an act of bravery with full confidence.
2. Lead from the front — but don’t leave your base behind
During his time in prison, Nelson Mandela launched negotiations with the Apartheid Government. Many in the ANC thought he was crazy for negotiating with the enemy. His reputation was on the line but he went to each of his comrades in prison and explained what he was doing. Slowly and deliberately, he brought them along. For Mandela, refusing to negotiate was about tactics, not principles. Throughout his life, he has always made that distinction; almost anything that helped him get to that goal is regarded as a tactic. He was the most pragmatic of idealists.
Tip: Leaders practice the art of negotiation and persuasion without compromising the basic principles of vision, passion, commitment and integrity.
3. Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front
As a boy, Mandela was greatly influenced by Jongintaba, the Tribal King who raised him. When Jongintaba had meetings in his court, the men gathered in a circle and only after all had spoken did the King begin to speak. The chief’s job, Mandela said, was not to tell people what to do but to form a consensus. “Don’t enter the debate too early,” he used to say. The trick of leadership is allowing yourself to be led too. “It is wise,” he said, “to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.”
Tip: A good leader is a good follower. An effective leader is one who is mentored and is share his own learnings by mentoring others. One is never too successful to be mentored.
4. Know your enemy — and learn about his favorite sport
As far back as the 1960s’, Mandela began studying Afrikaans, the language of the White South Africans who created Apartheid. His comrades in the ANC teased him about it, but he wanted to understand the Afrikaner’s worldview; He knew that one day he would be negotiating with them, and either way, his destiny was tied to theirs… He even brushed up on his knowledge of rugby, the Afrikaners’ beloved sport, so he would be able to compare notes on teams and players… Mandela understood that the Blacks and Afrikaners had something fundamental in common. Afrikaners believed themselves to be Africans as deeply as Blacks. He knew, too, that Afrikaners had been the victims of prejudice themselves as the British Government and white English settlers looked down upon them. Afrikaners suffered a sense cultural inferiority almost and as much as Blacks did.
Network Marketing Tip: Know your product by heart, brush up on your language skills and show your sincerity by getting to know people genuinely.
5. Keep your friends close — and your rivals even closer
Mandela was a man of invincible charm and he often used that charm to greater effect on his rivals than on his allies. On Robben Island, Mandela would always embrace his Brain Trust Men, whom he neither liked nor relied on. Mandela believed that accepting his rivals was a way of controlling them. They were more dangerous on their own than within his circle of influence. He cherished loyalty, but he was never obsessed by it.
Network Marketing Tip: Competition is only to be feared if not understood. If understood, competition is not only healthy, but it can also be very prosperous. A leader’s view on competition will not only reveal a lot about their beliefs on current and future market trends, but also on innovation, branding, talent management, supply chain issues, stakeholder management, capital markets and customer relationships.
What we can learn from Nelson Mandela is that you don’t need to liberate a country, be president and win the Nobel Peace Prize to be a great leader. Try channeling a little bit of Mandela into your life and let these traits guide you.