NELSON Mandela has demonstrated a full range of cognitive, emotional and behavioural faculties to bring about a profound change in South Africa. All leaders who aspire to be more strategic can learn from Mandela's six key behavioural qualities that distinguish him from others and made him a true strategic leader.
Mandela always looked forward and could foresee that South Africa's system of apartheid would not survive in future. From his prison cell, he strategically assessed the situation and anticipated reactions.
Mandela stood out among prisoners and guards as a man of principle and dignity, willing to sacrifice his life for his convictions. Despite harsh prison life, Mandela mustered energy to challenge those who kept him in prison.
Mandela analysed the errors committed by Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe. He recognized that South Africa could follow the footprints of Zimbabwe if it practised racial harmony. That meant forgiving without forgetting and sharing power. In 1993, a white man assassinated Chris Hani, a leader of the South African Communist Party, triggering widespread demonstration and unrest against de Klerk's government. Mandela, just out of prison, had the guts to call for peace when people wanted revenge. He also made a courageous decision to use sports as a means of healing, believing that "Sport…has the power to unite people in a way that little else does."
After being elected South Africa's first black President, Mandela announced he would serve only one term, though two were permissible.
Mandela exemplifies how a strategic leader adjusts strategy and execution amid complex social, political, legal and economic forces without compromising on deeply held values. Leadership is not just about motivating people and creating political support for a strategy, but also about maintaining broad support through successive adjustments to the plan.
East West University, Dhaka