Serendipity – a tribute

05/12/2013: in the evening, a short tribute on this website to Nelson Mandela, still struggling for his life. His close family members being interviewed and giving the last updates on his physical condition that make it to the world press in a second.

Significant others and many a trainee and coachee know that this giant meant more to me than a mere romantic, moral leadership icon.

We do not realise even half of what this Mandela-way can mean for any living soul in both hemispheres.

As David Venter put it:

‘We live in a world where we are facing the greatest leadership draft ever.’

Less than 1 hour after my post social media explode and I delete my original post…: Jacob Zuma, South-Africa’s president since 2009, has announced that Mandela has died.

As if I felt that his ending was near, a pre-sentiment.

06/12/2013: in the morning, the day after, I’m invited to a breakfast meeting with Wendy Kopp , global Chief Energising Officer of Teach For All.

Our small group of attendees enjoy a splendid view over Europe’s political capital in the early sun. Wendy is inspirational and makes the people present their day. Calmly and knowledgeably, she talks about vision, mission, best practices and obstacles, euh…future solutions, on different fronts, provides anecdotes. ‘Leadership and people make all the difference’, Wendy repeatedly says and shows with many examples and stories.

One of a school leader who managed to involve all the stakeholders to embrace the mission of his community, something which most organisations fail to fully accomplish. Blood, sweat and tears, but people use that leader’s mission as their compass.

06/12, same breakfast meeting: Wendy mentions her co-operation with consultant Jim Collins, one of my favourite business and leadership authors. In one of his books Collins introduces the term level 5 leadership, a humble and persistent leadership style. Humble, not to be confused with weak.

Mandela corresponds in many ways with a level 5 leader.

For instance, he adopted Collins’ window and mirror principle consistently: when things go wrong, they look in the mirror and are self-critical. When things go well, they look out of the window and wonder who has contributed to success/progress. Social scientists will flag this under the difference between internal and external attribution.

True, Mandela could have done a better job with regards to fighting aids and the problem of crime in South-Africa. Revolutionaries don’t necessarily make the best gouvernors.

The circle is round: Nelson, Wendy, Jim, Nelson.

24 hours that made my blood rush faster, a day to remember. (I also think about a person close to me with whom I used to talk and skype with fire about this gentleman, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela).

The rational-cartesian in me says there is no such thing as predestination.

The passionate, non-violent revolutionary in me knows better.

They reconcile, honouring Mandela.

At least for 24 hours.


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