Mandela as a leader had a clear goal and was focused on doing what was necessary to achieve it. His life's mission was to see the end of apartheid in South Africa, and to establish a non-racial society. To achieve this objective, Mandela was strategic and flexible in his approach. He was not fixated on following a particular course of action when that would not achieve the results needed. In short, he was prepared to fight for the liberation of his country. Madiba, or Tata as some preferred to call him, was also reconciliatory and forgiving. As a great leader he was ready to overlook the mistakes of the past and chart a new course for South Africa, rather than insist on punishing all the wrongs of the dark years. A final attribute of Mandela that is admirable is his sense of naturalness and deep reflection. The man was always himself; he did not seek to be considered as a superhuman or an angel. Similarly, his reflective practice helped him to address personal mistakes in later years. Through writing, he gave all of the us the opportunity to walk through the mind of a great world leader and to learn how to arrive at complex decisions that have far-reaching consequences.
Tributes for Madiba have been pouring in from all over the world, including the Ghanaian blogging community.
A funeral service held at the FNB stadium in Soweto today attracted many former and sitting heads of states, including leaders from Ghana, Nigeria, USA, UK, Brazil and Cuba. Those given the opportunity to speak were unanimous and unequivocal in their praise of Mandela's virtues, what he achieved for South Africa and what he taught the world. US president Barrack Obama was at his lyrical best as he weaved strands between the civil rights experience of the US, the anti-apartheid movement, and the continuous struggle for justice, opportunity and equality in the world.
Mandela is a towering figure of global leadership. His charm, resolve, wit and thoughtfulness were powerful assets that helped him to achieve his goals. Upcoming leaders can pick a few lessons from his book.