Byron's Babbles


I just finished an awesome book to finish out my 2017 reading challenge. In fact I read 90 books with a goal of 87 for 2017. The great book I just finished was, Leading Like Madiba: Leadership Lessons From Nelson Mandela by Martin Kalungu Banda. Kalungu-Banda taught us in this book that great leaders create trails that we can follow to find our own greatness. This does not mean we become their clones –that would be impossible, and anyway it would mean losing the rich variety of our personalities. But these great people inspire us as role models and their example helps us see what to aim for as we nurture our own style.

At the end of the book Kalungu-Banda gave us ten guidelines for leadership growth that he called: “Madiba path to leadership.” Here they are:

  1. Cultivate a deep sense of awe for human beings. Leadership is about people, and every single person matters. Mr Mandela, like Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa, did not have a business plan to begin his mission. He just had a deep-seated respect for people.
  2. Allow yourself to be inspired by the giftedness of other people. In a practical way, show that you recognise that every person has special gifts to use for their own wellbeing as well as for their community or organization.
  3. Grow your courage. Great leaders have courage. This does not mean absence of fear but learning how to recognise your fears, face the harsh realities of your situation, and nevertheless choose to follow what you consider the right course of action. At first this is not easy to do. Repeated practice will help you build courage as one of your virtues.
  4. ‘Go and preach the Gospel. Where necessary, use words.’ Lead by example. You should not ask of others what you are not ready to do yourself. Leading by action, you will inspire people more than by simply telling them what needs doing. Your active role will leave a deep and lasting impression on those you are privileged to lead.
  5. Create your own brand of leadership. A leader’s name and image must be consistently related to a set of values. This is what makes you really effective. When people think of you as a leader, they must immediately think of your principles. These are essential to guide your organisation or community through the various ethical conundrums they will inevitably have to face.
  6. Practice humility. Great leaders acknowledge their failings. Instead of making people lose faith in you, admitting your mistakes and limitations will draw people to help and work with you. By being able to apologise for your wrongs, you send the message that the search for right thought and action is a common enterprise. It is not owned or controlled by you or any other leader.
  7. Learn to live with the Madiba paradox. Life is a mix of hope and hopelessness, joy and pain, success and failure, vision and disillusionment. You as a leader have the task of helping others to live successfully with these apparent contradictions.
  8. Surprise your opponents by believing in them. There will always be people who disagree with your leadership style and what you do. Do not seek to silence, humiliate or vanquish them. Try to understand their point of view and deliberately work at identifying the positive elements there.
  9. Celebrate life. Activity and achievement of any kind are signs of life that affect life in turn. We work in order to enhance our life. We seek to excel for the same reason, not just to look good. In this spirit, we should celebrate not only individual performance and giftedness but life itself. You as a leader must participate in practices and ceremonies that honour the life of the people you are privileged to serve.
  10. Know when and how to make yourself replaceable. Great leaders know how to move themselves from centre stage. They know also when it is time to go. They prepare for it and make sure they have a successor who will build on what they have achieved. They enable other people to emerge as potential candidates. This is what sustains the leader’s legacy while guaranteeing a smooth transition.

As you can see, this is an incredible book and should be a part of every leader’s bookshelf. As Kalungu-Banda said, “Inspirational leadership makes all of us dig deep into the innermost parts of our being to find the very best that lies there and make it available to ourselves and others. This, in my view, is what great leadership is all about.” Are you practicing inspirational leadership at the highest level?


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