The charisma of Nelson Mandela, how Nelson Mandela earned leadership and became such a high authority power?



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The charisma of Nelson Mandela, how Nelson Mandela earned leadership and became such a high authority power?
All of the greatest leaders throughout time have had a certain extra quality to them, that quality being charisma. One leader stands out as having more charisma than most and that leader is Nelson Mandela. Mandela is seen as one of the greatest leaders of the world. He has many admirers around the world and during his reign as an authorial power had many dedicated followers. I hope to prove that Nelson Mandela’s substantial power was derived from nothing other than his charisma. Charisma is defined in the oxford dictionary as a “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others”. Mandela had exactly that through his personality, good morals and selflessness. Mandela’s charisma was shown through both his characteristics and actions throughout his leadership. No leader has yet to compare to Mandela’s worldwide inspirational leadership. This shows just how charismatic Mandela was as a leader to be able to influence so many people around the world. Charisma can also be influenced by an individual’s personality and character. It can often be seen more visibly in a leader when they have gone through or are going through a time of crisis and emerge through it with strength. It is said that many charismatic leaders lead on spontaneity. Charisma is one of the base components of a natural leader. Through Mandela’s great charisma he was able to become a high authority power as his followers had great confidence in supporting him.
A considerable characteristic of Nelson Mandela was the way in which proved himself as a leader through his morality and decision to forgive instead of seek revenge. Mandela’s ability to forgive the people responsible for his imprisonment is an attractive quality in a leader as “people who learn to apologize are not only inwardly more at peace with themselves, but attract the trust and admiration of others”1. By making the mature decision to forgive those who wrongly tortured and beat Mandela he gained the trust and respect from others. Trust and respect are two qualities that citizens look for in an aspiring leader. Some see Mandela’s forgiveness as a contrived scheme to gain the image of a credible leader. When Mandela was released from twenty-seven year imprisonment he “faced a lot of pressure to be the strong leader the South African people expected he should be”2. The view that some share is that it was a political strategy to apologize because “he was aware of importance of this success, but he was also humbled by the focus on his person as a symbol of international and historical dimensions”3. Even if Mandela felt pressure to become a great leader to his Nation and was aware that there was a strong focus on his triumph it would have still been very difficult and complicated for him to overcome his suffering in order to forgive. In the end, whether it started as a political strategy or came from a pure “bewildering ability to express forgiveness”4 it still took immense strength and valor from Mandela to be capable of imparting forgiveness rather than revenge after being beaten and tormented for twenty-seven years. Mandela influenced and inspired a number of people in his country and around the world because he pushed through his imprisonment with courage and strength. Mandela acquired the respect and love of many citizens upon his release from prison, as it was inspiring to the nation that someone could “emerge from such hardship and humiliation and talk of forgiveness and reconciliation with the enemies who caused...suffering”5. Whether for political benefit or an act of compassion, Mandela had conveyed “an understanding of the processes of human relationships in a particular historical situation and a belief that forgiveness would always produce more long-term benefits than revenge”6. It is a rare quality to have both the ability to realize that forgiveness outweighs the benefits of revenge, and to follow through with the act of absolution. Mandela believed and taught that “great leaders, whatever their sector, teach us that it is dangerous for anyone ever to think they could reach a stage when they would not have to apologize for haven spoken or acted wrongly”7. Mandela believed that in order to earn leadership one must become strong and brave enough to admit when they are wrong and to also never seek revenge but to forgive instead. It is a difficult feat but by forgiving you earn the respect and trust of others. When you gain the respect and trust of people they are more likely to follow you when you lead and it makes you a symbol of trust and respect. The act of forgiveness was the first of many charismatic qualities Mandela possessed. It was one of the first inspiring acts he portrayed to the public of South Africa, gaining their admiration.
Charisma can be produced or it can simply come naturally through personality and genuine characteristics. Nelson Mandela related to the public very well through his confidence, presence, morals, undeniable charm and bright smile. His personality was extremely charismatic. Someone with a charismatic personality transmits an image of themself to the public as a genuine and compassionate person. Someone with charisma has the ability to be adored and trusted without his or her followers ever essentially meeting him or her. In the case of Nelson Mandela, he possessed this ability to become adored as he constantly “stood out because of his confidence and humility”8 above other leaders. Mandela was always polite to those in a position of higher than his own and also those of his followers and workers. Mandela always struck up conversations with people surrounding him, making an effort to truly get to know everyone he could no matter their wealth, race or status. It showed that Mandela was a modest and humble person. This was a quality people found comforting in Mandela as it gave them a feel of intimacy between themselves and their leader. Another quality to a charismatic leader is a leader that possesses charm. Charm is something that is inbuilt in someone’s personality that makes people feel at ease. Mandela had a natural charm and his “charm was another crucial attribute, especially in his capability for developing friendships across the nation”9. Mandela’s use of eye contact and body language and grabbing and shaking of the hand when he met someone showed people that he was respectful of them. When Mandela supported the Springboks Rugby team, a team strongly linked to the harsh treatment during apartheid, and presented the trophy to the captain and shook his hand it proved to be a “simple gesture that reminded the world of his desire for unity10”. Through this small action of simply shaking an Afrikan’s hand and giving him the body language of respect it gained Mandela thousands of new followers. Mandela’s personality related to the public with such ease that it gave him a charismatic quality that soon everyone in the nation wanted to be behind. For Mandela’s obtaining of followers “it was ultimately the combination of a clear vision grounded in a profound moral conviction that gave him the power to transform opponents”11 When looking at Mandela you see a peaceful man who carries himself with confidence and smiles upon the Nation. His “profound moral conviction” is one that others admire and aspire to and with their admiration it gains their love and devotion.
The final charismatic quality that Mandela carries is that of courage to sacrifice and be self-less so that his leadership may inspire others. Mandela would try to always put others first and when someone is “seeking the wellbeing of others as much as our own, we will not only have the power to transform our ordinary activities into extraordinary ones but also gain an extra ability to enlist the enthusiasm and dedication of others to our cause”12. Mandela would constantly tend to the wellbeing of others making if feel as if the actions he carried out were specifically directed to what his followers felt they needed. Mandela made a personal sacrifice in the way in which he “projected his own personal needs and aspirations onto those of a social group sacrificing his domestic role as a father to become a symbolic father of first a nation and then of oppressed people everywhere”13. He took himself out of his role as a father in order to further benefit his nation, his own “daughter Zinzi says that she grew up without a father, who, when he returned, became the father of the Nation”14. When Mandela was put into the role of the Nations leader he slowly lost time to connect with his family and consequently became an absent member of his own family. Mandela innocently sacrificed his role as a father for the greater good of his Country and for those who depended on him to be there for them in times of struggle. Some people may see this as an act of selfishness as it can seem like Mandela abandoned his family. However, Mandela cared immensely for his family and the absence from them solemnly upset him. So it was with great sacrifice that Mandela was able to carry through with his role as a Leader and through his sacrifice his supporters respect for him increased. Mandela would courageously take himself out of the high power position and give the public and his followers a voice and treated them as equals. Mandela “was a leader who attained unity by performing as if he were one of his followers – surely the ultimate symbolic act of any charismatic leader”15. He would not talk down to others or patronize he would ask for the help and opinions of the general public. Mandela would treat others how he believed they should be treated, equally. He would treat his supporters with the same amount of respect that they treated him with and this was a high honor in South Africa. By treating his followers as equals Mandela gained their admiration and people would put enthusiasm and support behind all of his actions, as they felt that they were a part of the decision. Mandela’s support was “acquired through a lifetime of service, struggle and sacrifice”16. His selfless acts of sacrifice and respect for everyone around him is one his biggest attributes of genuine charisma. Due to this attribute his followers knew that Mandela would do anything for the people and countries best interest. When a leader’s followers have complete admiration, trust and respect for them it is a sign of true power. By gaining the followers trust, it gives them strong confidence in their leaders every decision.
Overall Mandela had natural genuine charisma but the overcoming of the obstacle of imprisonment also emphasized his charisma. It was through his time of crisis that he was able to emerge through it with strength. By emerging through his imprisonment so strongly he expanded his charisma through his unfortunate and untimely situation. Mandela’s natural charisma through his personality and character was the basis of his charisma. When someone has genuine charisma they are a natural leader, and Mandela realized this quickly and used it to his advantage by gaining the support of his Nation through his charm. His sacrifice and divine forgiveness were also very large attributes to his charismatic leadership and power. It is what ultimately gave him the respect and trust of his supporters. His charisma gave him the ability to become such a large inspiration to his followers. Gaining all of his followers through inspiration and influencing his nation gave him the ability to become such a high authority power. Without his charisma, Mandela would not have made such a large impact on either South Africa or the world. It was through his charisma that people saw him as so genuine and pure of heart, and is what gained him the love of his Nation.

Bibliography
- Bill Clinton & Archbishop Desmond TuTu, 2006, Mandela: The authorized portrait, Andrews Mcmeel Publishing, Kansas City
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