Transformational Leadership Style|Nelson Mandela’s Leadership Style

Nelson Mandela’s Leadership Style

Nelson Mandela was the first black head of state served as the head of state in South Africa for a period of five years (1994-1999). Nelson Mandela was known as someone who worked with motives and helps his followers to achieve their common goals (Chasi and Levy, 2016). Mandela was a highly honored leader, well known and valued not just by his own society but also the world at large who acknowledged Mandela’s commitment and tenacity. Nelson Mandela epitomized transformational leadership which motivated his supporters to extraordinary endeavors through individualized attention, charisma and intellectual inspiration (Ghasabeh, Soosay, and Reaiche, 2015). The true definition of Mandela as a transformational leader has impacted his followers and inspired many to become like him.

Transformational leadership style is referred to as a leadership approach that causes a transformation in social structures and the people. Considerably, transformational leadership contributes to a constructive and valued change in the supporters with the main goal of developing followers and create a vision for executing change (Byrne and Amaladas, 2017). Then transformational approach reveals leader-follower collaboration and how various leaders such as Mandela are able to stimulate and inspire their followers, empower them towards accomplishing certain goals and creating a sense of commitment and purpose to a common vision.

Transformational leaders such as Mandela have a gift to create connection and engage with followers that nurtures a degree of morality and inspiration in both the follower and leader (Chasi and Levy, 2016). The ability of such a leader to inspire his followers shows a high degree of emotional aptitude which incorporates confidence, self-regulation and awareness, motivation, thoroughness, social skills, and understanding. Ideally, even at his youth, Mandela had the dream to remove and end the apartheid structure that existed in his nation. With regards to this, Nelson became a member of the National Congress and headed a nonviolent campaign counter to the South African government which treated its members unfairly with much discrimination against its own people.

Nelson Mandela was a compelling leader who had the capability of sharing his vision with the people and acquired millions of supporters who also shared the vision with other citizens. Transformational leaders encourage others through considering the individuals’ desires to support the interests of others rather than their individual interests (Ewest, 2017). Nelson Mandela understood the desire and interests of the people for democracy and freedom. Correspondingly, his followers had a strong aspiration to satisfy their self-actualization needs of having freedom without discrimination and segregation. While in prison, Mandela still gathered huge international support worldwide which enabled him to lead the country from a period of transition to black authority from apartheid rule.

Mandela’s transformational leadership offers a number of lessons on the importance of leading others to achieve a common vision and standing for the greater good and not for personal interests.  Leaders should be opportunists seeking gains and achievements and controlling their external environments. Mandela led the people from behind, giving them an opportunity to bring out the best in them and letting them believe it was their own idea. Leaders should be charismatic to engage and create motivation and commitment of the people.

With respect to Nelson Mandela’s leadership style, it is important for a leader to remain inspiring, motivation and stimulating to the people they are leading thus fostering an atmosphere of respect and loyalty (Pietersen, 2015). This includes expressing behaviors such as focusing efforts, appealing visions and behaving in such a way that followers are energized. Helping followers through inspiring creativity and concerns about meeting their goals is more likely to bring positive results. Based on transformational leadership, Nelson Mandela shows many things about becoming better leaders. These include vision, integrity, being tenacious, achiever, opportunist and strategist; which are all useful ways through which a leader can lead an organization to success even during unpredictable times.


Byrne, S., & Amaladas, S. (2017). Peace leaders leading for peace. Peace Leadership: The Quest for Connectedness, 53.

Chasi, C., & Levy, N. (2016). Mandela and excellent African leadership: lessons from an appreciative thematic analysis.

Ewest, T. (2017). Leadership and moral behavior. Leadership today (pp. 43-57). Springer, Cham.

Ghasabeh, M. S., Soosay, C., & Reaiche, C. (2015). The emerging role of transformational leadership. The Journal of Developing Areas49(6), 459-467.

Pietersen, W. (2015). What Nelson Mandela taught the world about leadership. Leader to Leader2015(76), 60-66.

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