Making those changes may require sacrifice. In Mandela’s speech at his trial, prior to his 27 year imprisonment he said ” I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. An ideal which I hope to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it’s an ideal I am prepared to die for”. Brave words for someone accused of treason and facing the death penalty.
When eventually released from prison he led the South African nation to a bloodless transition of government through a mixture of brave, steely determination coupled with a humility that few understood. Right to the end, he refused to accept personal glory for his efforts. He was always making reference to those around him and acknowledging and praising their contributions.
Good business leadership in the current knowledge era is similar. It’s about leading from a supportive stand point, and having the humility to accept that it is others who will actually make the difference. What is sometimes misunderstood is that it is not an abdication style of leadership, where a very passive role is taken. Mandela was a powerful and influential leader in South Africa and despite his humble attitude, often stubbornly and determinedly promoted changes in attitude that were unpopular even amongst his closest supporters. Leadership demands passion, drive and determination.
In a paradoxical way, you need to lead from the front in terms of leading by example, while in reality leading from behind, realising on your own you can achieve very little. It is others who will ultimately make it happen.
To end with another quote from Mandela (spoken at his presidential inauguration). “We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success”.