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A leader has a vision. Leaders see a problem that needs to be fixed or a goal
that needs to be achieved. Edison did not set out to build a better candle; he
wanted to find a whole new way to illuminate the darkness. That's the kind of
vision a leader has. Leaders dream dreams. They refuse to let anyone or
anything get in the way of achieving those dreams. When looking to develop
leadership skills, whether it is at home, with your peers at work or in the
community, it is very helpful to look for mentors, role models that have spent
years mastering leadership traits and putting them into practice. I have many
mentors but Nelson Mandela is very much at the top of that list. I continue to
learn many lessons from him, but the ones that remain timeless to me are as
Be Better, Not Bitter: Nelson Mandela is the impersonation of this powerful
lesson. He was put in jail by a brutal regime for 27 years simply because he was
fighting for fairness and equality. But even while jailed, he continued to be a
leader and the symbol of the struggles of South Africans. Amazingly, after his
release from jail, he became a stronger leader, not bitter or ready for revenge.
He found common ground, embracing those who were once against him and
helping the country bridge a seemingly impossible gap.
Inspire With Action: Motivate others with your words and actions. Give them
courage, inspire them to learn more, instil in them a sense of possibility. Every
action that you take will lead to a learning opportunity and will encourage
moving forward movement in others. Teach others by example. If you do it, they
will follow.
Become A People's Person: Nelson Mandela is an incredibly dynamic person
who was able to motivate an entire country to work together and move past a
very difficult time in their history for the benefit of all. He wasn't attached to a
particular ideology or goal. Instead, he was willing to build relationships on all
sides in order to accomplish his goal of a united and successful South Africa.
Communication is the simple act of getting a message across clearly and
unequivocally to others. This sounds simple in theory but communication is one
of the hardest things to do because there are so many things in play (body
language, cultural idiosyncrasies among others) that can get in the way and
cause confusion. Nelson Mandela is a master communicator, which is one of the
top traits of a great leader.
Leadership is hard to define, mostly because it means different things to
different people. We know it requires knowledge, strength and compassion. We
expect leaders to be fair, to share our values and provide direction. That to me
is what leaders like Mr. Mandela represent.