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Nelson Mandela’s Personality

Character results from a culture that someone has grown up with for some time. According to many historical events, leaders rise during solution finding missions. The circumstances in their paths help to reveal their character.

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Rolihlahla Mandela is a celebrated hero of nationalism and socialism. His father had been a great man in the local kingdom. He even worked as the king’s advisor. They came from the tribal territory known as Thembu. His name was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadha Mandela. Mandela got the name Nelson on his first day at school from his teacher. He studied hard in school and became an excellent performer in his academics.

His father died when he was just twelve years of age (Bryman, 2011). Due to his father’s role in the kingdom, his son benefited from education. The Regent took him up and raised him. The Regent managed to pay his school fees in the best schools to prepare him for the future. He studied for a BA at Fort Hare University. However, the school discontinued his learning because of his involvement in expelled him for joining a student protest. He escaped to Johannesburg and became a security guard on a gold mine. He completed his BA at Unisa (Yates, 2013). He joined active politics from the year 1944 after helping to establish the African National Congress Youth wing. He married that same year. However, he continued with is education at Unisa and graduated with an LLB.

Humanistic Theories

Mandela participated in the formation and growth of the ANC party. His ideal self was similar to his actual self. When he laid down his plans and thought of a nation that was free from oppression, he put his energy to it (Thompson, Strickland, & Gamble, 2014). He knew that the best way to help his country is to be part of the political movement that would later lead to its stability.

The hierarchy of needs theory was Abraham Maslow’s study results on various great leaders. At the bottom of the triad are the basic needs. They are very necessary to everyday living. Food, clothing, and education are some of the most basic needs of a human being. Whenever one meets the core needs, one looks forward to higher needs.

Nelson Mandela had food, primary education, clothing, and shelter. He knew that he could only become great if he pursues what was necessary for inclusion in the political space (Kouzes & Posner, 2011). Mandela was aware of the conditions his people were going through in their country. He accepted the condition but worked on his abilities to build capacity for the next level of achievement. Nelson Mandela then put his skills to work and also sought to climb higher in the ANC hierarchy until Nelson became the president. He achieved self-actualization at the helm of the presidency. Nelson enjoyed working with others and saw it as a mission to fulfill in life. Everybody who worked with him knew him to be a man of humor and openness. He also gave others a chance to rule while he guided them.

The person-centered theory views the self-concept as the most important feature in personality. The beliefs, thoughts, and feelings that help a person to pursue their dreams in life are essential in leadership (Shiraev & Levy, 2013). Nelson Mandela had a vision and believed that the country could only get independence if the constitution had the right principles for humanity. He achieved that through consultation and negotiation with the ruling party.

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Trait Theories

Mandela’s determination did not stop him from achieving his best in academics. It was the same will power that drove him to study law and join politics. He was open to new experiences and conscious about the need for freedom. He was also an extrovert in the way he handled politics. His opponents saw him as a different person because of his agreeableness (Kise, 2013).

Although he wanted independence, he did not want independence to become a tool to punish others. He reached out to them and included them in governance after independence. He did this even when he was just a member of the ANC party. He was able to handle his anger and forgave people for hurting him, including the former leader. His neuroticism behavior made him very humble and forgiving.

He did not look at the pain in prison on Rosenberg Island. The 27 years he spent in prison did not change his attitude towards others. When he had the instruments of power, he could have taken that advantage to revenge for the trouble he went through in the struggle for independence. However, he called upon his followers to treat others equally and showed them the way to live together with each other.

Nelson Mandela’s cardinal trait was cohesiveness. He wanted a united country that had both the blacks and the whites living together as brothers and sisters. He was honest about his desire and ensured that his colleagues worked with him on the agenda. He dealt with the law by changing clauses that promoted enmity in the people. The Africans collaborated with the white people without undermining each other. Before independence, the minority whites overpowered the majority Africans in the economic sector.


Bryman, A. (2011). The SAGE handbook of leadership (1st ed.). London, UK: SAGE.

Kise, J. (2013). Intentional Leadership. New York, NY: Allworth Press.

Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2011). The five practices of exemplary leadership (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

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Shiraev, E. & Levy, D. (2010). Cross-cultural psychology. Boston, Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon.

Thompson, A., Strickland, A., & Gamble, J. (2014). Crafting and executing strategy: The quest for competitive advantage (19th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Yates, J. (2013). The Career Coaching Handbook (1st ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: Taylor and Francis.

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