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Tribute to Nelson Mandela

Posted December 17, 2013 • Leadership • by Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, Ph.D.

Nelson Mandela was not just a hero for South Africa; he is the world’s hero.

In the workshop I teach at Columbia called “Transforming Conflict from Within” I teach about five leadership qualities that are necessary for leaders to cultivate in the midst of long-term conflict: complexity, interconnectedness, values, imagination, and courage. In the workshop, I show a video clip of Nelson Mandela to demonstrate how a strong leader uses his imagination to inspire others towards greatness. The truth is, I could use Nelson Mandela as an example for every single one of these five qualities, because he embodied them all.

Mandela’s leadership resonates with so many people around the globe: his fight for justice; the courage he demonstrated by surviving and even thriving for decades in jail; his ability to know that we human beings are all connected to one another even when it might be easier to reject that notion; remaining true to the value of forgiveness at a time when it might have been easier to hate…these are all very human qualities that are heroic.

The best way to pay tribute to Mandela is by emulating him: by being forgiving and courageous, living from our core values, knowing we are all connected, and having and communicating a big vision for our lives. This is a tall order.  Trying our best to fulfill it is a great way to honor Mandela’s memory.