In any place where more than two people come together, the question of leadership arises. In the process of forming a group, some of its members begin to play a more active role than others – they are given preferences, they are listened to with great respect. In short, they gain a dominant position. In this way, the group members are divided into leaders and followers. This is the phenomenon of leadership in the classical form, But certain conditions of the external environment leave a mark on the personality of the leaders, their views and ways of achieving goals. In this article, we will analyze the phenomenon of political leadership on the example of Nelson Mandela, who was a real humanist in all his aspirations.
Political Leadership Phenomenon and Ideal Goals
Max Weber stated, “Any person who is involved in politics strives for power. It can be a desire for power as a means to achieve ideal or selfish goals, or to power “for its own sake” in order to enjoy the sense of prestige it gives.”
The above ideal goals are the most promising, but also the most difficult ones to achieve. The pursuit of such ideal goals determines the purity of the political leader’s intentions. One of the politicians whose intentions were ideal and pure was Nelson Mandela. His ideal goal was the eradication of apartheid. Without a doubt, Nelson Mandela was the leader, who dedicated his entire life to hard work for justice and equality all over South Africa. A lot of people over the globe have been inspired by Nelson to work non-violently for a better future. BBC News claims that Nelson Mandela was the man who destroyed apartheid. Let’s look at his short biography.
Nelson Mandela’s Biography
The great global leader was born on January 18, 1918. His Motherland, Transkei, is located in South Africa. The boy got a very interesting name – “Rolihlahla” which is translated as “troublemaker” from the Xhosa language. Nelson Mandela was the first person in the family who attended school. On the very first day at school, the boy was renamed by his teacher Miss Midingane. This is when the story of Nelson Mandela begins. Nelson was eager to think and learn. One day he said, “The most powerful weapon that can be used in order to change the world is knowledge”.
● The First Steps in Politics
By 1942, Nelson Mandela was already focused on the political field. In 1944, this man helped found the African National Congress Youth League. He was the one who organized strikes and boycotts in order to fight for equality and voting rights for black South Africans. Apart from dealing with political issues, Nelson Mandela was also a family man. In 1944, he married Evelyn Ntoko Mase. The happy couple had four children.
Together with happy moments in his life Nelson Mandela also faced with the hard times. In 1960 the African National Congress was officially banned in South Africa. As a result, Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life for fighting apartheid. Nelson spent twenty-seven years in prison. Upon his release in 1990, Nelson Mandela exerted every effort in order to repeat apartheid and stop the growing violence on the territory of South Africa.
● The Nobel Peace Prize Winning
One of the greatest episodes in Nelson Mandela’s life was the winning of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. He won the prize in 1993 and in 1994 Nelson Mandela was chosen as South Africa’s President! Nowadays, people in South Africa celebrate Freedom Day on April 27 every year. This very day commemorates the anniversary of the first real democratic elections in South Africa (this is when Nelson Mandela was chosen as a President of the country).
● The Long Walk to Freedom
At the same time, Nelson Mandela published his autobiography book, which was called “Long Walk to Freedom”. One should mention that the second book written by Nelson Mandela was named “Conversations with Myself” and was published in 2010.
It was the man served as the South Africa President until 1999. It is known that Nelson Mandela refused to run for the second term. The deal of this significant leader was grief for millions of people all over the world. After a long disease, Nelson Mandela passed away on December 5, 2013. One of the most prominent peacemakers of all times was 95 years old.
6 Leadership Roles Based on the Example of Nelson Mandela
The complexity of the role of a leader can be analyzed by considering various functions that are included in the position of a leader. It is worth noting that Nelson Mandela is one of the few historical figures who successfully combined all these functions:
- Leader as a planner. The leader often assumes the responsibility of developing the methods and means by which the group can achieve goals. This function may include both the determination of immediate steps and the development of long-term action plans. As one of the organizers of the Campaign of Disobedience, Mandela developed Plan M in case his activities were exposed by the authorities.
- Leader as a representative of the group in the external environment. The leader is the official person of the group acting in the external environment on behalf of all. Therefore, group members are not indifferent who will represent their interests and how. The leader, in this case, identifies all the members of the group, their collective intelligence, will, etc. Nelson Mandela was a representative of the entire black population of South Africa who was subjected to apartheid.
- Leader as an example to follow. In some types of groups, a leader can serve as a model of behavior for the rest of the group, i.e., a leader provides them with a clear indication of who they should be and what they should do. The squad leader, who courageously leads the soldiers into battle, is just such an example. In the case of Mandela, he showed an example of non-violent resistance, because he was convinced that violence begets violence.
- Leader as a factor canceling individual responsibility. Often, a leader plays an important role for group members in relieving them from responsibility for personal decisions and actions that they would like to avoid. Thus, in response to the devotion of followers, the leader takes the trouble to make decisions for him. Moreover, the followers rather willingly convey their freedom to the leaders (Fromm called this phenomenon “an escape from freedom”). The fact that Mandela ended up in prison clearly indicates that he took over all individual responsibility.
- Leader as a worldview guide. The leader in most cases serves as a source of values and norms that make up the group worldview. In general, it reflects the ideology of the society to which the group belongs. In the case of Nelson Mandela, these values meant recognizing universal human rights regardless of race.
- Leader as a “father”. Numerous leadership functions are integrated into the overarching “father” role for group members. The true leader is the focus of all the positive emotions of the group members, the ideal object of identification and a sense of devotion. The fact that Nelson Mandela became president after his release proves this statement.
Leadership and Its Specificity in the Political Aspect
The subjects and objects of politics are always people with their own needs and interests, ideas, knowledge, experience, values, emotions, and culture. Politics is connected with relations between people, and this essential element of it cannot be forgotten.
The problem of political leadership arises only in the presence of certain political conditions and political freedoms (or lack thereof). That is, the political leader appears when there is a continuous struggle of people belonging to certain parties and factions, reflecting those or other interests and aspirations of certain groups of people. This is what happened in the case of Nelson Mandela. And this is one of the reasons why political leadership as a political phenomenon became the focus of attention of political scientists after the mid-20th century.
The very definition of political leadership as the power exercised to induce members of the nation to act shows that the power of leaders is able, by its very nature, to unite citizens for joint efforts to improve the state of affairs in society. Nelson Mandela sought precisely this union for the benefit of all the people of the country, regardless of the color of their skin.
A Leader and Surroundings
At the same time, it is clear that the performance of leaders can be good or bad. Therefore, an analysis of surroundings is needed to determine its role in leadership. The question of the performance of leaders is directly related to the problems of a given society, its characteristics, or, in other words, the state of the environment. They can not put any, or contrived problems and rely on their successful solution. As J. Blondel notes, “Leaders are captives of the environment in which they can do what the environment “allows them to do.”
And it is possible to observe in real life that leaders influence the environment, and it largely depends on the nature and methods of their actions. Nelson Mandela was also forced to act in a specific environment, in an environment denying the universality of human rights. Nevertheless, he chose the path of non-violence, being deeply convinced that all people are equal to each other, and this applies even to those who encouraged the apartheid phenomenon.