#176 – Nelson Mandela on Leadership

A colleague recently sent me a quote from Nelson Mandela that provides us with a very interesting perspective on leadership. Here’s part of what Mandela had to say:
“It’s better to lead from behind. Put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory or when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

Food for Thought ~

I agree that a strong leader is someone who does not need to be in a high visibility position at all times. Mandela calls it “leading from behind.” I like leaders, such as the example Mandela sets, who are able to modulate their leadership practices according to the situation. When things are going well, a gentle hand on the rudder may be all that’s needed. When there is risk, or as he calls it, danger, then a higher profile and more assertive action may be required. As a leader, I have always felt that part of my responsibility is to “protect” my organization – the people, the resources, the brand/image, all of the myriad assets and interests of the enterprise.

Question for the day ~

In your role as a leader, do you adjust your visibility level depending on the situation? Are you generous in giving recognition to others? Do you move to the front when there is a threat to your organization?

In Closing ~

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
Nelson Mandela
Activist and President of South Africa, 1994 – 1999.