Visionary Leadership of Nelson Mandela Essay

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Visionary Leadership

After being detained in prison for 27 years, Nelson Mandela walked out of Prison to lead South Africans in their quest to break free from Apartheid rule. He became the first Black president of the Republic of South Africa and led a robust reconciliation effort that helped Blacks and Whites in South Africa forgive one another and find common ground to work on to help build South Africa. For these efforts, Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize. Nelson Mandela was born in 1918 in Transkei and went on to be a student of law at Fort Hare University. As the African National Congress (ANC) started gaining momentum in the early 1940s, he joined the movement to help resist the racist policies of the then ruling White government. The racist government policies would later be codified into Apartheid which proved to be a brutal and highly racist rule. The fight against Apartheid then became a life-long fight for Nelson Mandela. On helping end Apartheid, Nelson Mandela became the first post-apartheid president and retired just five years into office. He died in 2013 at the age of 95 (Averill, Khumalo & Hilse, 2019).

Mandela is regarded as one of the world’s most transformational visionaries. He brought his emotional, behavioral, and cognitive abilities to bear to help bring change to South Africa. As a visionary leader, Mandela’s ideas and deeds brought a lot of value to the fight against Apartheid. Some of the valuable gains because of his visionary leadership include:

a) Mandela had the vision to realize that no matter how much the Apartheid regime resisted change, the system would not survive into the future and would crumble as the world changed. He formulated plans in his prison cell to help speed up the end of Apartheid, set them into action, and anticipated the reactions. When President Botha offered him freedom with the demand that he renounces the opposition movement against the government, Mandela rejected the offer saying that it did not amount to freedom. He chose to serve out the rest of his prison term. With time, the world began to recoil against the Apartheid regime and local South African citizens and businesspeople began to push for change more aggressively.

b) Mandela inspired prison guards and other political prisoners by standing by his principles in prison. In spite of the very harsh life they led in prison, Mandela had the energy to challenge oppressive practices and always did what was right no matter the cost. His imprisonment in Robben Island was a stark reminder to South Africans and other people the world over of the state of Apartheid.

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When F.W. de Klerk succeeded Botha, he set into motion actions that led to the democratic elections of 1994 that led to Nelson Mandela becoming the first Black South African president. For their efforts to peacefully end Apartheid, Mandela and de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

c) As a visionary, Mandela recognized the mistakes that were being made by the…

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…having a strong reason why something needs to be done creates a lot of motivation for workers handling a project (Kinsey, 2018).

Almost all organizations today need a visionary leader to succeed in today’s fast-paced and dynamic business environment. In fact, the most successful companies in the world today have been led by some of the world’s greatest visionaries. Apple was led by Steve Jobs, Amazon is led by Jeff Bezos, Facebook is led by Mark Zuckerberg, and Tesla is led by Elon Musk. A question arises as to whether or not only highly visionary people can create such tremendous success. Can a purely transactional leader bring the magnitude of success that has been seen in companies such as Amazon and SpaceX? It is a hard question to answer because of the survivor bias. We only get to hear of the success stories and fail to read of the many failures in business other ‘visionary people’ have gone through. Even then, the celebrated visionary leaders’ main proposition is not that they are visionary. They are meeting market needs but they are doing it in a visionary manner. Bill Gates’ main proposition was increased productivity, Steve Jobs main selling point was function and design, Jeff Bezos’ is speed, customer service, and price, while Elon Musk’s proposition is clean energy. The products they create are just tools to deliver their value propositions to the public. Nonetheless, it would be hard to compete with these companies if the competitors lacked visionary leaders. Therefore, in today’s business environment,….....

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Averill, V., Khumalo, T., & Hilse, G. (2019). Mandela, visionary of a free South Africa. Retrieved from
Cape Media. (2014). The power of visionary leadership. Retrieved from
Haehnel, N. (2015). Do we need visionary leaders for innovative business models? Retrieved from
Kinsey, A. (2018). What is visionary leadership? Retrieved from
Schoemaker, P., & Krupp, S. (2014). 6 principles that made Nelson Mandela a renowned leader. Retrieved from


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