Most of us know the basics of his inspiring story and enough has been written on the man called “Tata” (Father) that we need not cover that here.
What I would like to discuss in this post is how it turns out that he is the embodiment of the Five Key Principles of Ultimate Influence in Adversaries into Allies.
- Control Your Own Emotions: Here is a man who — fighting for equality for black South Africans — was unfairly imprisoned for 27 years. Released due more to public demand than the conscience of his captors, he had every right not only to be angry but to communicate that anger at every opportunity. As the eventual new President of his country, he also had an opportunity to become a great divider of people. But he went the opposite route. What emotional self-control it must have taken to put his anger aside and instead channel it into unification!
- Understand the Clash of Belief Systems: White leaders, as well as the general white citizenry of South Africa, certainly operated out of a totally different set of beliefs (the lens through which they see their world) than did Mr. Mandela and South Africa’s black citizens. While he most likely could not understand their racism, he understood it existed and hence was in a position to be able to work within that context in order to overcome it.
- Acknowledge Their Ego: Yes, he had to be weary of the egos of those whose belief system he was about to change. And, he had to handle that carefully. He did…expertly. Had he insulted them, berated them, and put them down and he would never have obtained the buy-in that he did.
- Set The Proper Frame: In this case, more than setting the frame (the foundational premise from which everything evolves), he actually had to re-set the frame of Apartheid that was already an ingrained part of the white peoples’ belief systems.
- Communicate with Tact and Empathy: What a wonderful spokesman he became through his ability to approach issues in a way that lowered defenses, helped his “adversaries” to feel understood and respected, and elicit the buy-in which turned adversaries into allies and allies into advocates.
Thank you for your teachings and for your example, Mr. Mandela. We miss you!