The Greatness of Nelson Mandela and Leadership

How does one define greatness?

Nelson Mandela’s death got me thinking about what makes a great leader? I am interested in exploring how genuine leadership can guide organizations towards greater individual and group effectiveness.


Let’s define leadership. I believe it is the application of leadership to a group of extraordinary individuals with a common vision or transcendent mission. A leader will be capable of inspiring others in the group to go beyond what might otherwise seem the norm.


Here is a short Q & A on leadership.


Doesn’t a successful organization expect its leader to have all the answers?


Nobody has all the answers, and this sort of expectation is one of the problems in ineffective hierarchies and toxic communities. In our culture, we want leaders to have all the answers, and we discredit them if they don’t. The media and partisan politics feed this attitude.




Can you explore various approaches to leadership, especially as applied to large organizations?

There are a many ways to define leadership; however, what most forms of leadership have in common is the centralizing of power in the hands of one individual or group of individuals. Thus, in order to understand leadership, one must understand power. To make this easier for you, I have provided a basic list of categories of power.


1. Charismatic Power: Based on a magnetic style or personality. To explore charismatic power and why it is so effective, see the Conversation on How RTPs Spread Through Society in the Level: Regenerative Thought Programs – RTPs.


2. Coercive Power: Based on the ability to make others accountable for their choices and actions.


3. Expert Power: Held by a person with a skill that is not only invaluable to the group but irreplaceable.


4. Information-based Power: Short-term power derived from a body of information that is essential to the group’s functioning within a particular area.


5. Legitimate Power: This is among the most rigid expressions of power. It is structured, hierarchical and is usually bestowed formally upon a person by others.


6. Reward Power: This type of power is directly connected to the concept of positive reinforcement. In this concept, an individual has the legitimate administrative power to offer rewards and incentives to others.


Leadership is essential in politics. What makes a person a poor political leader?

Some politicians, while seeming to care about others, are actually driven by hidden and often selfish agendas fueled by selective use of the media.


Where do the concepts of altruism and reciprocal altruism fit into the various theories of leadership?

There is a leadership model known the “Managerial Grid” that presents five different leadership styles, based on the leaders’ concern for people and their desire to achieve certain goals. I will not discuss these here, but there is much information available.



Lewis Harrison the creator of this blog is a radio talk show host, speaker, consultant, practical philosopher and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. Lewis is a pioneer in the personal development movement The author of nine self help books on human potential he offers a monthly retreat/seminar “How to Solve Any Problem”.  He also and phone based coaching. He is creating a series of ebooks entitled “Ask Lewis…” which will be available on line.

This blog is explored more fully through Lewis E-book “A Primer To Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory”. Lewis’ ebook “How to Predict the Future (Not!) ”,  is available as a $7.00 e-book. You can order it directly from Lewis by calling him at 212-724-8782.

Lewis owns a stress management consulting and corporate chair massage company

Lewis offers phone-based and on-line life coaching services and a monthly workshop/Retreat – a simple program for decision making based on Game Theory, the idea expanded on by John Nash, the Nobel Prize winning subject of the biopick “A Beautiful Mind”.

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