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Nelson Mandela Essay

Related Topics: Freedom Ethics Apartheid Prison

Pages:5 (1632 words)



Topic:Nelson Mandela

Document Type:Essay


Life of a historical leader: Nelson Mandela


Efficient leadership constitutes the main force resulting in ethical culture formation and bolstered ethicality in making decisions (Ferrell & Fraedrich, 2015). The term leadership denotes intrinsic capability of commanding and leading other people towards any specified goal. The process of leadership entails formulation of a vision and ideas, adopting and sticking to values which support the aforementioned visions, engaging in tricky decision-making whenever needed, and utilizing one's innate charisma for inspiring followers to also stick to those values. Sound leadership aids companies with vision creation that serves as the basis for corporate values. Ethical decisions form an important component of efficient leaders, in addition to their capability of driving others towards goal attainment.

The term ethics, or moral philosophy as it is otherwise referred to, entails systematization, defense and recommendation of the concepts of correct and incorrect conduct (Fisher & Lovell, 2006). Every professional must necessarily follow ethics codes. Ethical leadership results in the development of an ethically sound corporate culture which functions as the basis for ethical decisions. In this paper, moral and ethical leadership will be analyzed, taking the example of South African president and Nobel laureate, Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela as an ethical and moral leader

Anti-apartheid spearhead, Nelson Mandela, forms an excellent example of an ethical/moral leader, since his actions are grounded in moralistic values which helped him gain the trust of White and Black South Africans alike. Mandela's efforts were grounded in an explicit, though simple, vision of a world without apartheid. His unwavering determination despite a 27-year imprisonment brought freedom to his people (Masbagusdanta, 2013). He worked for the marginalized Black South African population's sake, to bring them peace, happiness, and justice. Upon leaving prison, this moral leader took up the daunting task of creating a peaceful multiracial society in the South African nation - a task he succeeded at and that led to the end of the apartheid era and White and Black South Africans understanding and respecting one another. His sense of ethics was superior as well, and he effectively convinced his community (i.e., South African Blacks) that their issues could be solved. He was known to be a great negotiator. For instance, he was a part of the Palestine-Israel negotiations where he proposed things to do in order to resolve the matter.

Even at prison, Nelson Mandela also stood out in the crowd of prisoners and prison guards as being a principled, dignified individual who was ready to give up his freedom and life in order to support what he believed in. In spite of enduring the hardships of life at prison, he was energetic enough to challenge the prison keepers. He did not willingly accept the way things stood and his stay at Robben Island (where he and other political prisoners were imprisoned) ensured apartheid leaders could see their actual selves. Via his words, signs, and actions, Mandela challenged the national system which denied him his freedom. In the end,…

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…Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SAC) (Glad & Blanton, 1997). In political terms, Mandela's eventual compromises (like temporary "power-sharing") with the National Party were doubted by the ANC's more radical personalities and factions, which included Winnie, his estranged wife. Taking into account the wide array of ANC-represented interests, continuing to be a moderating figure in a revolutionary age was a risky and challenging task for him.


A glimpse at Mandela’s efforts towards attaining peace in the nation and his goal of serving humanity in order to free the world from racial marginalization by applying a moral approach to leadership reveals that for being an ethical/moral leader, one must have a definite role model like Mandela to achieve success. In this way, one can fall back on the actions of the chosen role model for inspiration and cultivate moral leadership values. They need not wait for a second apartheid-like case akin to the 1948-1994 one to reoccur, to bring out their inner moral leader. There are innumerable cases worldwide which must be dealt with, and they may begin with that. Once again, though it is easy to say that every leader can be an ethical/moral one, now is the time to start acting. Mandela was a personification of how strategic leaders adjust their plan and its implementation in the midst of complex economic, legal, social, and political forces whilst not compromising on their deep-seated values. Leadership doesn’t constitute mere motivation of individuals and garnering of political support to back…

Sample Source(s) Used


Daft, R. L. (2010). Organization theory and design, 10th Edition. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Ferrell, O. C., & Fraedrich, J. (2015). Business ethics: Ethical decision making & cases. Nelson Education.

Fisher, C., & Lovell, A. (2006). Business Ethics and Values: Individual, Corporate and International Perspectives. FT Prentice Hall.

Glad, B., & Blanton, R. (1997). FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela: A study in cooperative transformational leadership. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 27(3), 565-590.

Masbagusdanta, K. (2013). Everyone Can Be a Moral Leader. Global ethics network. Retrieved from

Schoemaker, P.J.H. & Krupp, S. (2014). 6 principles that made Nelson Mandela a renowned leader. Fortune. Retrieved from

Tutu, D. (2013). Nelson Mandela: A colossus of unimpeachable moral character. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

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