On Man­dela Day, help to change the world around you


NEL­SON Man­dela In­ter­na­tional Day is to­day and peo­ple ev­ery­where can cel­e­brate his birth­day by act­ing on the prin­ci­ple that each per­son has the power to change the world. Now is the time for us, as a na­tion and as in­di­vid­u­als, to ask how will we be eth­i­cal lead­ers in our homes, our com­mu­ni­ties and work­places, and as cit­i­zens of this coun­try?

Man­dela Day serves as a global call to ac­tion: for peo­ple to “recog­nise their in­di­vid­ual power to make an im­print and help change the world around them for the bet­ter”, ac­cord­ing to the Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion.

Man­dela led with con­science and courage, and em­bod­ied the val­ues of jus­tice, equal­ity and com­pas­sion; uni­ver­sal val­ues that all South Africans need to re­claim as we ask our­selves to­day: “What am I do­ing to change the world for the bet­ter?”

And he demon­strated the power of col­lec­tive ac­tion.

Cel­e­brat­ing Man­dela Day is about tak­ing at least 67 min­utes – one minute for ev­ery year of Man­dela’s pub­lic ser­vice – and mak­ing a small ges­ture of sol­i­dar­ity with hu­man­ity and a step to­wards a global move­ment for good. Fo­cus on what you are pas­sion­ate about and where you know your ac­tions will have a last­ing im­pact, and do some­thing pos­i­tive for your com­mu­nity.

You will be join­ing thou­sands of peo­ple, com­mu­ni­ties, and non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions to hon­our the life­time that Man­dela spent fight­ing for so­cial jus­tice, equal­ity and democ­racy, and also heed­ing his re­peated call to help change the world for the bet­ter.

Be­cause of his unique in­sights and ap­proaches, Man­dela left a last­ing im­pact on the world. What set him apart as a leader? What gave him the abil­ity to have a trans­for­ma­tional im­pact upon those around him?

Quite sim­ply, his emo­tional in­tel­li­gence en­abled him to mo­ti­vate oth­ers to tran­scend their own needs and in­ter­ests for a com­mon goal. He be­lieved that each of us, by join­ing to­gether to cre­ate a rip­ple of pos­i­tive ac­tions, can make strides to­wards pos­i­tive so­cial trans­for­ma­tion.

Trans­for­ma­tional lead­ers are some­times called quiet lead­ers. They are the ones who lead by ex­am­ple. Man­dela used rap­port and re­la­tion­ship-build­ing, in­spi­ra­tion and en­cour­age­ment, em­pa­thy and re­spon­sive­ness to en­gage his fel­low South Africans and fol­low­ers ev­ery­where. He was known for his enor­mous courage, con­fi­dence and the will­ing­ness to make sac­ri­fices for the greater good.

Lead­er­ship ex­pert James Burns de­fined trans­for­ma­tional lead­ers as those who seek to change ex­ist­ing thoughts, tech­niques and goals to achieve bet­ter re­sults for the ben­e­fit of all peo­ple. Burns also de­scribed trans­for­ma­tional lead­ers as those who fo­cus on the es­sen­tial needs of their fol­low­ers.

Trans­for­ma­tional lead­ers are known for their in­tegrity, which brings us to a dis­cus­sion of ethics. Eth­i­cal lead­er­ship re­quires the lead­ers to take into ac­count their con­stituents and stake­hold­ers and the con­text of the sit­u­a­tion.

Their pur­pose, vi­sion and val­ues are for the ben­e­fit of the stake­hold­ers. Madiba’s vi­sion was to spread so­cial jus­tice and free­dom for all.

This spe­cial day gives each one of us a chance to be­come part of a con­tin­u­ous global move­ment for good.

Im­por­tantly, lead­ers view their fel­low cit­i­zens not as fol­low­ers but as peo­ple striv­ing to­wards the same com­mon pur­pose. They fo­cus on the greater good of their or­gan­i­sa­tion, and not on ego.

Eth­i­cal lead­ers find and de­velop the best peo­ple be­cause they see this as a moral im­per­a­tive and a key el­e­ment in cre­at­ing more value around them. Eth­i­cal lead­ers take the rights of oth­ers se­ri­ously.

As we pre­pare to com­mem­o­rate the legacy of a great man, let us look at our own val­ues and prin­ci­ples, and how these are re­flected in our lives. Let us ask our­selves what we want to ac­com­plish through our own lead­er­ship and think about what we want peo­ple to say about our lead­er­ship when we are gone.

In the words of Madiba: “When a man has done what he con­sid­ers to be his duty to his peo­ple and his coun­try, he can rest in peace. I be­lieve I have made that ef­fort and that is, there­fore, why I will sleep for the eter­nity.”

By giv­ing a lit­tle of your time each day to mak­ing a change that’s close to your heart, or by giv­ing a lit­tle of your time to make a dif­fer­ence to the life of some­one else, you can start chang­ing the world around you.

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