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Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 387

Essay

In so far as commitment, complexity and credibility are three features which distinguish leaders, a clear example of a historical figure who satisfied these preconditions is that of Nelson Mandela. Mandela’s life long engagement with the racist apartheid movement in South Africa was a political struggle, directed against the dominant ideology of a nation-state. Mandela’s struggle was thus informed by commitment, namely, the ethical commitment to oppose a regime which, by delineating social boundaries according to a doctrine of biological racism, could only be viewed as unjust from a greater humanist perspective. This situation, accordingly, was particularly complex, as Mandela was dealing with the state apparatus itself as an opponent – by opposing apartheid, he was opposing the law, government and was thus considered to be a “terrorist.” Mandela was thus faced with the enormous task of re-framing the conceptual image of a “terrorist” in the dominant social discourse as its opposite: one who is struggling for higher ethical principles. Lastly, Mandela’s lifelong commitment to this struggle gave him a deeply respected credibility as head of the African National Congress: the decades he spent in prison, for example, re-affirmed to the South African public as well as the entire world his impeccable credentials and commitment to freedom as a staunch opponent of South African political and social racism.

The Wallenda Factor may be described as a world-view, according to which the individual focuses on success as opposed to possible failure. Hence, the aim is to “embrace positive goals, to pour one’s energies into the task, not into looking behind and dredging up excuses for past events.” (Bennis and Nanus, 66-67) The Wallenda factor is a crucial concept in leadership, to the extent that past errors can often paralyze the individual. Previous mistakes will drain confidence and a constant fear of subsequent failure will exist. With this reversal of perspectives towards a success-oriented vision, past errors lose their grip of failure: one realizes that to be bound by past failures is to prevent any future positive movements. This leadership technique is thus invaluable not only for how it frames mistakes in their proper context, but also for the manner in which it also shows the potential leader the way forward in his or her decision-making.

Works Cited

Bennis, Warren and Nanus, Burt. Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge. New York: HarperBusiness, 2007.

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