Transformational Leadership

  1. Identify whether Nelson Mandela displays a leadership style that is congruent with charismatic or transformational leadership.

Nelson Mandela was a leader who exemplifiedtransformational style of leadership. What Nelson Mandela accomplished in South Africa in its very essence exemplified transformational leadership. He freed South Africa from a governance system that was epitomized by violent prejudice and united a people who were divided along race, color and oppressor-oppressed relationship in a way that had not been thought possible.According to Lussier & Achua(2016, pp. 328-331), a transformational leader engages his followers and strives to create an environment in which they are motivated, and their morale boosted. Mandela led a change that depolarized a nation that was racially polarized for many years. His leadership softened apartheid South Africa and steered it into global recognition. Through his leadership, he was able to soften the hard stance of South Africa’s haves and have-nots and aligned them in the quest for a productive common-groundas a transformation leader would.He created a vision for the people of South Africa, communicated his vision for the nation, and modelled the vision by ‘walking the talk’ and acting consistently, in the process building a commitment towards achieving the vision.

According toDavies (2016, pp. 38-39),it is the transformational leadership provided by Mandela and supported by the patient work of people inside and outside South Africa that resulted in the renaissance of South Africa as a multiethnic nation. According to McShane et al., (2015, pp. 392-395)transformational leadership often requires a figurehead to integrate and drive a process, and the leader being an instrument of change. These are elements that Nelson Mandela embodied with the interest of the greater good of South Africa at heart.Transformational leadership primary focus is on the empowerment of others and developingothers to their full potential. Mandela did this. He had the desire and focused on developing other people’spotential as opposed to their deficits. Nelson Mandela had the vision of developing the potential and prospect of South Africa as a nation, and this formed the impetus and motivation for his advocacy and life mission. He was a servant leader (Trompenaars & Voerman, 2009, pp. 52-54).

Transformational leaders change feelings, patterns of thinking, and behavior. They cause their believers to be “much more”, to be more motivated, to believe more in their own strength, to be more ethical and socially mind their thoughts and deeds. Nelson Mandela exemplified these traits. Through his leadership, the ANCleadership recruited millions of tyrannized poor South Africans and inspired them with new energies and came up with a re-born nation that had the interest of the common citizenry at heart.

  1. How did Mandela’s leadership role change as his circumstances changed?

Nelson Mandelachanged his leadership role to be in-synch with circumstantial changes.His leadership roleevolved and adapted to the situational needs and dynamics of the surrounding. He made adjustments based on what he had learnt from his mistakes. However, his underlying ideas and principles never changed, they simply informed his decision on how to approach the changing circumstances so as to achieve the greater vision he had for South Africa.One aspect that remained unchanged was his ability to keep his eyes on the prize in the face of adversity and danger to himself and the people of South Africa.For example, he was not afraid to go to jail and when he was offered the option of being released he refused until certain aspects of people representation in South Africa were changed. He knew what his vision was, and kept his eyes fixated on them. It is his ability to keep his eyes on the vision that was the strength that helped him and South Africa in realizingthe vision of a free and democratic South Africa.

From the time when he was the ANC party youth league leader to when he took the leadership of ANC, and to leading South Africa through the turbulent years of post-apartheid and transition from white minority rule to democratic rule, Nelson Mandela remained that transformative leader who focused on his strategic vision for his country despite the changing circumstances.However, he was able to adapt and take into consideration the opinion, viewpoints, and leaders of the citizenry of South Africa. All through He remained that motivating leader who despite the circumstances had an unfailing belief in the power of the people to change.From the leadership role of Nelson Mandela, it is evident that while circumstances changed, Nelson Mandela always remained humble, and modest, always giving credit where it is due and acknowledging the contribution of others. He remained steadfast and loyal to his ideas, his friends and his people throughout his life.

  1. What can we learn about leadership from Mandela

There are various lessons that canbe learntabout leadership from Mandela. First, a leader should never dictate. Instead,he should guide people to consensus.Secondly, we learnt that leaders should lead by example. Nelson Mandelawas a figurehead leader, who showed fearlessness when it counted. Third, we learnt that leaders should exemplify the power of service. Mandela was committed to helping the peoplewhom he served as a leader. He typified servant leadership. The fourth lesson we can learn about leadership from Nelson Mandela is that great leaders lead with humility. Mandela did not focus on himselfor on personal accolades; on the contrary, he focusedon the purpose of serving others as a leader.

Other lessons about leadership that can be learnt from Nelson Mandela is that from experiences, situations and changing circumstances, great leaders should reflect, learn, adapt and evolve accordingly. Mandela reflected and learnt from his mistakes and made adjustments accordingly.Further we learn that as leaders we should have the courage to tackle challenges. A leader should be willing to face challenges and develop solutions, as opposed to running from them or avoiding them all together. A leader should also never give-up. Nelson Mandelawas viewed as an idealist whose vision and ideas could not be realized, however, he never gave up, and it the long run he was able to achieve his vision for the nation of South Africa.

  1. Why is Mandela so admired as a leader? How is he similar to or different from other world leaders?

Nelson Mandela was an exemplary example of an admirable leader. Hewas admired as a leader because of the many attributes that he exhibited while providing leadership to the people of South Africa. He was admired because of the struggle, courage and leadership that he exemplified, all of which were meant to bring equality and fairness in SouthAfrica.He symbolized a commitment to democracy and freedom, and despite his towering achievement, he remained humble. He made immeasurable personal sacrifices for the sake of the greater good of South Africa. He endured many years of incarceration before assuming the presidency. While imprisoned, being a political prisoners, he wassegregated and classified under the lowest prisoner group, D-group, with the least privileges.In addition, he was subjected tohard labor.Despite such long-term suffering, He remained steadfast. He was admired for his great vision thatstrengthened himthrough the struggles and pain, and despite these suffering, his desire for reconciliation inspired his enemies to be better through forgiveness and reconciliation.

Mandela was also admiredfor his principles and tenaciousness. He became an inspiration to many through his readiness to sacrifice his life with the aim of pressuring the oppressive white regime and end apartheid.Further, he did not attempt to do it all alone. He let other ANC leaders to take his place. His movement was not just Mandela’s Movement, it was a movement for the people of South Africa, and as a result of this,a lot was achieved even while he was confined in prison for 27 years. Additionally,even while he wasthe president, he mobilized both whites and non-whites into a one united front, anact that unified the country.While he was not perfect, by admitting his mistakes and acknowledging his flaws, he became even greater and an admired and revered leader. Indeed, Mandela was an embodiment of a true leader.

How was Nelson Mandela similar to or different from other world leaders?

Very few world leaders can be comparedto Nelson Mandela. He was a leader who was not driven by personal gain or greed;on the contrary, he was driven by service to humanity. While he had the option to run for a second term as president which he would have easily won, he opted to step down and let another person lead South Africa. This is contrary to many world leaders who would never consider not running for a second term unless the constitution directed so. He sacrificed so many personal desires for the sake of the common good. Sacrificing 27 years of his life is no mean feat, very few world leaders would allow themselves to be imprisoned. Through his leadership, heempowered and developed other leaders whom he believed would be thefuture face of leadership in South Africa. He was mindful of other people and was never obsessed with taking credit from people. He never sought publicitywhen things went well, orplace the blame on others and avoided responsibility when things went bad. Most of the present world leaders tend to beegotistical, belligerent and unfriendly, and self-serving. They lack compassion or empathy for other people.Mandela on the other hand never let power get into his head.He was selfless, self-sacrificing, easy-going and most of all provided leadership that went to benefit the people. Without a doubt Nelson Mandela was a different leader, he was a shining and exceptional example of what a transformational leader can and should be.

  1. What personality dimensions, values and attitudes might be particularly useful to an individual who wants to act as a transformational leader? Do you believe anyone can develop them? Discuss.

Various qualities would be useful to anyperson who desires to act as a transformational leader. Carmichael et al.,(2011, p. 353), state that a transformational leader should exhibit strong organizational vision, foster group goals, provide appropriate modelling for leadership, intellectually stimulate others, and also have high-performance expectations. The person should be people oriented as opposed to results-oriented and should always endeavor to inspire others to do more than originally expected. According to Lentz(2009, pp. 80-82), an individual who wants to act as a transformational leader should exhibit personality dimensions such confidence and respect for others, and demonstrate aninterest in others as opposed to self. The person should build, develop and empower followers, have the interest of thecommon good at heart, and treatsubordinates as individuals.Also, such a leader strives to build and strengthen subordinates’ duty to organizational goals and inspire them to achieve them. The leaderframes a vision for the future and understands his subordinates differential strengths and aptitudes.Riggio & Bass(2006, pp. 3-11) add that an individual who wants to act as a transformational leader should encourage followers to rise above personal interests in the interest of the team.

To act as a transformational leader, an individual needs to focus on long-term goals and reconfigure prevailing systems to advance a shared vision. The individual needs tocoach subordinates to shoulder more responsibility for their own growth and development, and at the right time, develop a plan for leader-succession so that an organization’s transformational activities continue within the organization systems.

Do you believe anyone can develop them? Discuss.

Yes, I believe that anyone can develop the personality dimensions, values, and attitudes that exemplify a transformational leader.Carmichael et al.,(2011, p. 353) state that people can be developed, new skills taught and learnt in an effort to create a transformational leader. They further state that traits that exemplify transformational leadership can be acquired and any individual can develop into a transformational leader simply by exhibiting those behaviors.This explains why globally, organizations enroll their managers into development programmes where they are trained to master and practice these behavioral qualities and develop attributes that exemplify transformational leadership.Riggio & Bass(2006, pp. 3-11)state that many organizationstailor their leadership programmes around the transformational leadership skills which they desire their leaders to acquire and subsequently cultivate to become effective in their roles.Hence,my belief that transformational leadership can be taught and attributes acquired and practiced in an organizational setting.




Carmichael, J. L., Collins, C., Emsell, P. & Haydon, J., 2011. Leadership and Management Development. New York, NY: Oxford University Press Inc.

Davies, A., 2016. Best Practice in Corporate Governance: Building Reputation and Sustainable Success. New York, NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Lentz, C. A., 2009. Change Management. Las Vegas, NV: Lentz Leadership Institute.

Lussier, R. N. & Achua, C. F., 2016. Leadership: Theory, Application, & Skill Development. 6 ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

McShane, S. L., Olekalns, M. & Travaglione, T., 2015. Organisational Behaviour: Emerging Knowledge, Global Insights. 5 ed. s.l.:McGraw Hill Education-Australia.

Riggio, R. E. & Bass, B. M., 2006. Transformational Leadership. 2 ed. Mahwah, New Jersey: Psychology Press.

Rosenstein, B., 2015. Leader to Leader. 76 ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Trompenaars, F. & Voerman, E., 2009. Servant Leadership Across Cultures: Harnessing the Strength of the World’s Most Powerful Leadership Philosophy. 1 ed. Oxford, OX: Infinite Ideas Limited.