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Nelson Mandela

Leadership entails socially influencing others to maximize their efforts and help attain a goal. Hence, leadership emanates from social influence and not necessarily a position of power, status, or authority. Leadership also has a set goal that directs the members. Teamwork and collaboration of members is made a reality through leadership. Therefore, leadership qualities are essential as they determine the success or ruin of the team. Individuals have portrayed leadership in several spheres of life. Nelson Mandela is one such icon who has shown leadership qualities like being an effective communicator and successfully applied teamwork in his quest to end apartheid rule in South Africa.

Background of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was born in South Africa on 18th July 1918 (Mandela, 2008). Nelson was an activist against the apartheid regime that had introduced rules that brought racial divisions between black and white people. Nelson Mandela’s activism led to him being chased out of college due to leading protests (Mandela, 2008). Further, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for twenty-seven years, under which he rejected several conditional release offers. Upon his release, he served as the first black president of South Africa for one term period of five years (Mandela, 2008). Nelson Mandela served as his political party, the African National Congress president for six years (Mandela, 2008).

Leadership Qualities of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela had a leadership quality of embracing ethics. A leader embraces ethics by having morality and responsibility toward their followers (Stronge et al., 2021). Mandela constantly guided his followers to avoid violence while agitating against apartheid (Mandela, 2008). Further, Mandela was honest with his followers that they avoid violence as it would lead to the death of many of them. Effective communication skills was another leadership quality of Mandela. Leaders use communication skills to coordinate plans with their followers (Stronge et al., 2021). In a trial when facing the death penalty, Nelson Mandela ended his dock speech with a statement that he was prepared to face death for the ideals of a just and democratic country that he believed in (Mandela, 2008).

Mandela’s Use of Teamwork and Collaboration

Mandela used teamwork and collaboration in several instances to achieve the goal of ending the apartheid regime in South Africa. During the early negotiations of 1991-1992, the black people of South Africa were not in one united front. Black South African supporters of Buthelezi Mangosuthu, who had a party known as the Inkatha Freedom party, usually clashed and engaged in violent confrontations with supporters of Nelson Mandela and his ANC party (Mandela, 2008). Supporters of Mandela pressured him to return force with force. However, Mandela demonstrated his application of teamwork and collaboration in accomplishing his goal as he extended an olive branch to Buthelezi. Hence, they signed a peace accord in September 1991, and Mandela encouraged all their black supporters to work together as a united front (Mandela, 2008).

Nelson Mandela also exhibited teamwork during the 1991-1992 CODESA negotiations. A group of older ANC members who had hugely contributed to the success of the ANC vouched for Mandela to lead the talks instead of Cyril Ramaphosa. The members saw Cyril Ramaphosa as too young to represent them as the ANC delegation. Nelson Mandela reiterated the importance of ANC working as a team. Hence, he gave out the role of leading the ANC delegation to Cyril Ramaphosa and took the ANC delegation’s important member position. Therefore, through his selfless act of giving out the lead role, Nelson Mandela showed that teamwork and collaboration were what his party needed to end the apartheid regime.

As the president of South Africa in 1995, Nelson Mandela also showed and used teamwork in the Rugby World Cup tournament. South Africa had a chance to host the game for the first time in their history, and they also were in the match as first-time world cup participants. Fortunately, the South African national rugby team, Springboks, reached the finals and defeated the New Zealand team. In his administration, Nelson Mandela had ensured that black and white people were equal participants in the National rugby team. Unlike in the previous regimes where only white people were allowed to be players in the National Rugby team. Therefore, Nelson Mandela donning the Springboks jersey and cap, presented the trophy to the Springboks captain Pienaar Francois. Hence, proving to the world that black and white people could play together in the same field and win.

Leadership and Registered Nurse’s Practice

Effective communication skills is a leadership quality that I will embrace as a newly Registered Nurse. Effective communication skills will enable me to offer patient-centered care, one of the IOM competencies in my practice. Through effective communication skills, I will be able to listen to patients, communicate, educate and clearly inform them of various methods of disease prevention (Heinen et al., 2019). Further, as a newly Registered Nurse, I will embrace the leadership quality of being ethical. The leadership quality of being ethical will enable me to combine patient values and clinical expertise to provide the best patient care (Heinen et al., 2019). Hence, being ethical will help me apply the evidence-based practice, one of the IOM competencies.

In brief, Nelson Mandela, who died on 5th December 2013, is proof that leadership is not necessarily defined by power and authority but by the will to socially influence others in maximizing their efforts to achieve a goal. Further, Mandela has proven that leadership qualities like effective communication determine the team’s success. Also, teamwork and collaboration do not limit a leader from attaining their goal but make the process easier. Registered Nurses can borrow a lot from leadership qualities and teamwork to help them meet the IOM competencies of their practice.


Heinen, M., van Oostveen, C., Peters, J., Vermeulen, H., & Huis, A. (2019). An integrative review of leadership competencies and attributes in advanced nursing practice. Journal of advanced nursing75(11), 2378-2392. Retrieved from

Mandela, N. (2008). Long walk to freedom: The autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Hachette UK.

Stronge, J. H., & Xu, X. (2021). Qualities of effective principals. ASCD.


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