Nelson Mandela was one of the top 5 topics discussed across social media in 2013. The international release of the movie 'Long Walk to Freedom’ will ensure that people continue to talk about this great man in the near future and probably a lot longer! What interests me most about Mandela is the sheer wisdom and lessons that can be gained and applied to business practice today.
Here are 3 things that we can learn from Mandela’s legacy:
A COMMON CAUSE ‘Together we can do more’
The above phrase is arguably one of the most recognised from Mandela’s many speeches; and it couldn’t be truer. We may be more familiar with his name, however behind the name was a multitude of people who together made the Mandela vision possible.
The Orange Revolution: How One Team Can Transform an Entire Organisation by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton supports this notion that ‘together we can do more’. The book discusses what the drivers are behind an organisation’s success and how an organisation can come together in a common cause. One may ask what the single most important driver is behind the success of a company like Pepsico or Zappo’s; ‘Is it a genius leader?’ The Orange Revolution provides compelling research to show that‘breakthrough success is guided by a particular breed of high-performing team that generates its own momentum—an engaged group of colleagues in the trenches, working passionately together to pursue a shared vision’. So together as a department or team, the aims and goals of an organisation can be achieved.
TRUST IN LEADERSHIP
‘But, if need be, I was prepared to die for them’
I’m really not suggesting that management should be prepared to die for their colleagues! What I am trying to bring out is that having leaders who truly support and believe in their team helps promote greater trust among team members. Both aspects are key attributes that can help to bring about a corporate ‘Orange Revolution’. Mandela so believed in his people and what his party stood for that he boldly declared that was prepared to die and be imprisoned for the cause. The results were national support and belief in his abilities from the people of South Africa.
Weekly I attend meetings in the Oval area so I often take public transport to get there on time. What I love most about the Oval underground station is ‘Thought of the Day’ printed on the notice board by the barriers. For many years the station staff have taken time to brighten up our day with positive thoughts. The ‘thoughts’ are normally already recognised by prominent leaders and often reinforce things we should be doing such as ‘take time to say thank you’ or ‘love is honourable and love is kind’… highly positive thoughts that resound in your mind as you read them.
Why not introduce a thought for the week or frame parts of Mandela’s speeches in the lunch room or board rooms? You can carefully select the ones that reinforce company values or the vision. For example, if ‘Respect for others’ is a one of the company values, a poster like this could help reinforce respect and being positive around the workplace.
Or if effective cross department working is another initiative for the year, a poster like this could also be a reminder if placed around the office.
These are just the suggestions that can make a difference, when applied to the various ideas that may already be implemented.